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Three Weeks Post-Op

Today, I’m officially three weeks post arm/shoulder surgery.

Yay!

I’m now halfway through my “confined to a sling” period.

I can’t wait to be sling-free!

So far:

•  I’ve been AMAZED at how little pain I had during the first two weeks after surgery.

•  I’ve been relieved “THAT PAIN” I’ve lived with for nine and a half years is gone.

•  I’ve been startled back to reality when the “very easiest” physical therapy hurt like hell.  (After two weeks of being almost pain free, I was secretly hoping I could skate through physical therapy with no pain at all.  Delusional, I know!!)

•  I’ve been insulted by people who know nothing about the damage in my arm, but make comments to the effect I’m crazy for undergoing another surgery and/or act like I wanted to go through this again.  Here’s a hint:  If you don’t have a medical license, and access to a person’s full medical records, you should NOT be judging.

•  I’ve been told, by my son, my biggest of 4 new scars makes me look like “a bad ass mom!”

Arm5 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016

The mark of a Bad Ass Mom?

•  I spent last weekend very discouraged due to pain.  I thought long walks would be good for me, but I think my arm is getting jostled around a lot when I walk which increases my pain level.  I might be walking too far, too soon?  Is five miles in a day too much?  My legs don’t think so, but my arm, apparently, does.  I’m going to try shorter walks!

•  The two words which keep repeating themselves in my head are “FRUSTRATED” and “PATIENCE.”  I have too much of one, and not enough of the other.

•  As of today, I’m allowed to take my sling off if I need to drive – but, I have to put it back on when I get to my destination.

•  I’ve taken two or three photos with a point and shoot camera, shooting RAW, with the settings on “automatic.”  It’s not much, but it’s enough to help my sanity.

Fred The Newf loves peanut butter!

•  I’ve been discovering new music on Spotify.  Ice packs accompanied by music … is there any other way?

•  I’m considering attempting some left handed art-play to break-up the boredom of Arm-In-Sling-Can’t-Do-Much-Itis.  I’m pretty sure anything I make will look like preschool finger painting.  But, hey, I need to keep myself amused, right?  Maybe I’ll get brave and try working in a coloring book?

•  I’m ecstatic and thrilled when various friends and family take me out and about.  It makes the whole recovery process so much more bearable.

**  This week I’ll be publishing a “favorite things” post!  **

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Things I Hope To Do Again Someday

I’ve accomplished a lot, with one working arm, over the last nine and a half years.

Still, there are many, many, things I’ve missed being able to do.

I was terrified of this last surgery.

To get through it, I tried to concentrate on all the things I *might* be able to do again.

(It remains to be seen how much function I’ll regain, but I’m very hopeful.)

I still have one more arm (elbow tendon) repair ahead of me, but my thoughts are focused on where I hope to be a year down the road.

I’d like to be able to:

•  Take photos without it hurting to do so.

•  Take a yoga class.

•  Take almost *any* type of exercise class and know I’d be able to fully participate.

•  Wrap gifts.

•  Put things on a shelf above my head.

•  Wear a purse on my right shoulder.

•  Carry things using my right hand and arm.

•  Play tennis … just for fun, not seriously.

•  Put a carry-on bag in the “overhead bins” when I travel by air.

•  Sleep on my right side … it used to be my favorite sleeping position.

•  Garden.  Oh, how I miss being a small-time gardener!  (Flowers!  Herbs!  Veggies!)

•  Cook.  I used to be a very good cook.  But, since the accident, I only make easy, non-arm-intense, things.  Cutting, chopping, a lot of stirring … those activities take arm power!

•  Clean.  I know, you’re thinking who wants to CLEAN?  But, it’s so difficult for me to do things like clean out my garage/cupboards/closets/etc.  There are days I can’t stand my own home.  A lot of the big project house stuff just doesn’t get done when you only have your non-dominant arm to work with.

•  Hug people with both arms!!

The list could be endless, but these are the things which come to mind first.

I’ll continue to remind myself of my many hoped-for goals if I get discouraged with the recovery process.

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March 30, 2016

Where did March go?

Time is flying by!

My oldest son is still here visiting which is a great distraction from my boring recovery.

I’ve had, and survived, my first post-surgery physical therapy appointment.

I was a little scared, but it wasn’t too bad.

“That hurts!” I might have informed Paul Newman.

“I know it does,” he replied matter-of-factly as he continued on with what he was doing.

(He loves me.  I’m his *favorite* patient.  hahahahaha!!)

Paul Newman also fixed my sling for me so it’s much more comfortable now.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten through the first PT visit, I’m sure I’ll be braver in the future?

One of my Newfie friends invited me to ride down to San Diego with her yesterday.

We went to visit the wonderful Newfie breeder who helped bring Fred into the world.

She has SEVEN six and a half week old Newfie puppies at her house right now.

They’re landseer puppies … which are the black and white ones.

No, I’m not planning to get another puppy.

It was just a fun afternoon of visiting with a few Newfie loving human friends,

And, of course, all those TOO CUTE puppies.

(I couldn’t take photos because of my sling/arm, but if you’d like to see some puppy photos you can see them via my friend’s “tag” on my Facebook timeline.)

It would have been a fun afternoon regardless,

But, I appreciated it even more since I’m still not driving and/or getting out and about much.

When I got home in the late afternoon, Fred went absolutely berserk sniffing all the puppy scents on me.

He wagged his tail furiously …

I’m pretty sure he was jealous I went to play with puppies and didn’t bring him.

Maybe Fred can go visit the puppies when they’ve gotten a little bigger …

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Monday, Monday!

I hope you had a nice weekend.

I’m feeling pretty good about life even though my family has faced some serious (unbloggable) challenges over the last seven months.

Last Friday, I got my stitches (and surgical staples – ouch!) out.

My doctor is very happy with my arm in its current state.

And, I’m SO happy with how great my arm is doing so far.

I might not be as happy once I begin physical therapy this week?

I imagine PT will hurt.

Thank goodness Paul Newman will be helping me …

We’ve got a great bond and a strong level of trust.

After all I’ve been through, that’s very (!!!)  important to me.

My arm is still immobilized in a sling which leaves me very dependent on others for help.

I think I’ll be in the sling for around six weeks total?

I’m not very good at accepting help.

I’ve got a strong, stubborn, independent streak.

But, I find I have to accept help right now.

I CAN’T TIE MY OWN SHOES!!

My youngest son came home from Texas (college) last Thursday and stayed through Sunday.

My daughter, and her boyfriend, drove down from L.A. for the weekend.

My oldest son (North Carolina … soon to be working on his MBA) is here for a week.

I was happy to have all three of my kids home at the same time.

Fred was in heaven with so many people to love.

Fred R © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Fred discussing the water temperature of the pool!

I’m still very limited in what I can do.

I’m taking daily walks.

I’m trying to get out of the house as much as I can … with friends/family.

My arm lets me know quite clearly when I’ve done too much.

The hardest thing is having patience.

I want to do so many things, but I have to take life very slow right now.

Sigh!!

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Yay! It’s THURSDAY!!

I’m so happy it’s finally Thursday!

This morning, I’m going to take a “fake” shower.

Fake showers take a lot longer than you’d think!

Then, I’m getting dropped off with my wonderful hair person.

She’ll make me presentable and I’ll feel human again!

Tonight, my youngest son arrives home from college for the holiday weekend.

Yay!

Fred usually goes with me to the airport to pick up friends and/or family.

Everyone loves to be greeted by Fred  . . . and Fred loves it too.

You can probably imagine the stir a GIGANTIC, furry, creature makes in a public place like that.

Tomorrow, Friday, I’ll be up in Los Angeles most of the day for a post-op visit with my doctor.

I’ll be getting my stitches out … yay again!

I probably won’t have another post written until next Monday or Tuesday.

All three of my kids will be here by Saturday, and I’ll be busy enjoying their visit.

(I feel so guilty I can’t cook for them.  They’re going to have to cook for ME this time!)

Fred went to the groomer yesterday.

He’s SO handsome and smells wonderful.

Fred’s ready to see “his” kids.

(I’d share a Fred photo, but I can’t even take phone photos yet.)

Fred had a very scary encounter with a coyote the other night.

Fred and the coyote were separated by two inches of wrought iron fence.

The coyote howled and screeched at Fred.

Fred, bravely, stood face to face with the coyote and barked his DEEP sounding bark ferociously.

As soon as I heard the commotion, I was out the door trying to “save” Fred.

Fred didn’t want to budge one inch.

Fred was MAD at the coyote for getting near “his” home, and Fred had no intention of backing down.

(Newfies can be QUITE stubborn!)

The coyote, however, was startled to see me running towards them (frantically, arm in a bulky sling!) and ran away.

It was really something.

I’ve lived here for many years and I’ve had dogs nearly the entire time.

The coyotes have always been around, but I’ve never seen anything like THAT before.

Scary!

Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Next time I write, I’ll be stitches-free, I’ll be able to take “real” showers, and I’ll have had a chance to hug all three of my kids with my one working arm.

I’m so GLAD to have the first ten post-op days behind me!

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The Impatient Patient

I’m counting down the days until Friday.

I can’t wait to get my bandages off and be able to take real showers.

(Although, my “fake” showers are getting realer, and realer, as I get sloppier, and sloppier, about keeping my sling dry.)

On Thursday, I’m getting my hair cut and styled.

I think it will make me feel MUCH more human.

Little things make a big difference in how a person feels while recuperating from surgery.

I also have some family members arriving beginning Thursday evening which will be a nice distraction.

In the meantime, I’m finding ways to kill time.

Nike and I went for a two mile walk on Monday.

It was nice to have a chance to visit with her.

I was proud of my two mile walk … considering I was only six days post-surgery.

I read two books by Susan Branch yesterday.

They were A Fine Romance and The Fairy Tale Girl.

A Fine Romance is about the author’s two month journey exploring, and falling in love with, the English countryside.

It’s charming.

I bought it in hardcover because Susan Branch is a watercolor painter and I wanted to see (and be able to refer back to) her illustrations.

I learn by looking.

I was pleasantly surprised to be so charmed by the story itself …

The book is, really, “just” Susan’s (entertaining) journal entries about her trip.

It brought back long-ago memories of England, and made me want to hop on a plane to revisit.

It also made me a little curious about the author which is why I ended up purchasing The Fairy Tale Girl.

The Fairy Tale Girl is the first book, in a two-book memoir, about Susan Branch’s life.

Her story captured my interest, I suppose because it parallels parts of my life.

She was born in the L.A. area, and then headed north to live on the Central Coast.

(Reseda to San Luis Obispo for her … La Crescenta to Santa Barbara for me.)

She’s older than I am, and experienced a lot of the turmoil of the ’60’s and ’70’s.

We both fell in love with men incapable of being faithful during our twenties.

(I think this probably happened to a lot of women in the “free love” decades of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s …. until the world learned about HIV and AIDS.)

In Susan Branch’s case, falling in love lead to marriage with a prominent man (Cliff Branch) in the town of San Louis Obispo.

Her books are quick, easy, reads.

I think they’re worth getting in hardback vs. Kindle/ereader format …

The illustrations are beautiful on paper, there are recipes scattered throughout the books you might want to refer back to, etc., etc.

I’ve already pre-ordered her soon-to-be-out book/sequel/second half of her memoir, Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams.

In the meantime, I seem to be obsessed with teapots.

I already drink tea (jasmine, green, iced) 24/7.

But, my teapot obsession began in New Zealand, which is very British.

Tea, and “having afternoon tea” is a big deal there.

Then I went to Oregon where I perused my mom’s antique teapot collection.

Next, I read Susan Branch’s books … she’s a dedicated Anglophile.

Lastly, I ordered a really pretty teapot which will hopefully arrive sometime soon.

Teapot © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Well, I did say I was killing time, right?

I already picture the teapot filled with flowers, acting as a vase, when it’s not being used for tea.

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So Bored!!

The good news is, I’m not in pain.

I haven’t had any pain medication since the second day after my surgery.

I’m almost giddy over the fact I have less pain NOW, immediately post-surgery, than I did for the nine and a half years prior to this surgery.

All indications point to a very successful outcome for this surgery.

The bad news is, I’m very bored.

My right arm and hand are immobilized.

Because of that, I’m unable to do much of anything.

I’ve been reading about one novel/book per day.

I’ve always been a very fast reader.

I’m caught up on movies and TV shows.

I’m not allowed to drive so I’m stuck at home most of the time.

I definitely have cabin fever.

I’m going for daily walks.

I can think of endless other things to do.

Unfortunately, everything I think of requires use of my dominant hand and/or arm.

I’m taking fake showers every other day.

Fake showers take a long time, and a lot of effort, and aren’t nearly as good as real showers.

On Friday, I’ll get my bandages removed and I’ll be allowed to take normal showers again.

I’m trying to be patient with the healing process.

I know I have weeks of recovery ahead of me.

I can’t wait until I’m allowed to drive again.

Showers, driving, writing, drawing, editing photos, texting, typing, managing my unruly hair,

These are the things I’m really looking forward to.

If you have any Boredom Buster suggestions,

I would love to hear them.

I can’t type responses to comments.

But, I’m reading all the comments you’ve left for me.

I appreciate them very much.

Thank you.

I’ll have another update soon.

** This post was written via a dictation app. **

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Back Home Again

Thank you for all the well wishes.

I apologize for not being able to thank you individually.

I was discharged from the hospital and I’m back home again.

My doctor was exceedingly pleased with how my surgery went.

He removed 3 inches of damaged tendon and did some other stuff too.

The staff at the hospital were very kind and helpful.

My right arm is in a sling so I’m using a dictation app to write.

I have a lot of medical rental equipment at home to help me be more comfortable.

The post surgery pain is very manageable.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

I expected to be in much more pain than I am.

I’m not allowed to take a shower for two weeks which totally sucks.

I’m taking daily “sponge baths” and washing my hair in the kitchen sink.

I’ve been sleeping more than normal which, I suppose, is to be expected.

I realize I have weeks of recovery and physical therapy still ahead of me, but I’m very optimistic about where I’ll be two months from now.

Fred has been an absolute love.

He has been snuggling me and been very sweet.

He is very intuitive in regard to my arm and pain level.

As much as I was dreading this surgery,

I’m feeling very positive about the results.

I’m quite sure I’ll have a better quality of life as a result of having gone through it.

I’ll try to write more next week.

Right now I’m going to go take another nap.

Thank you again for all the well wishes!

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At The Hospital

Good morning!

Today I’m up in Los Angeles having Surgery #10.

I wrote this post using dictation on my laptop.

I wanted to practice before I lost the use of my hand.

My arm will be in a sling for an unknown number of weeks after surgery.

I will be using a dictation app to update you on how I’m doing.

I don’t think (?) I will be able to add any photos to my posts for a while.

I hope you will forgive any errors made by the dictation app.

I’m not sure how often I will be able to give updates.

I’m hoping I only spend one night at the hospital.

If that’s the case, I’ll try to give another update post surgery once I’m back home/awake.

My doctor decided last week, to only operate on my shoulder and upper arm today.

I was a little bummed-out because I wanted my elbow tear fixed at the same time.

But, I realize the medical reasons why my doctor did not feel this was in my best interest.

Today’s surgery is the more major event and I will get over this hurdle first.

He feels in about two months, I’ll (hopefully) be ready to have the elbow tendon tear fixed.

Of course, the recovery for both will depend on how much they end up doing to me once they’re inside my arm fixing things.

In any case, I’ll try to dictate, and post, a short update as soon as I’m able to.

In the meantime, if you have any suggestions on books to read and/or TV shows/movies to watch, I’d love to hear them.

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New Zealand, Part V: More Queenstown

I was originally scheduled to spend several days in Queenstown, New Zealand.

But, as it turned out, I didn’t get quite as much time there as I would have liked – only two days/two nights.

I was happy to take a boat trip out, and about, Lake Wakatipu.

I wanted to be able to shoot the town, the lake, and The Remarkables from a viewpoint other than the shore.

Boating on Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand.

I also signed up to spend a few hours on a “touristy” visit of a working sheep farm.

(I felt like I “had to” do this in order to qualify as a legitimate visitor to Sheep-ish New Zealand.)

Sheep grazing.

I enjoyed the farm more than I expected to.

The scenery and views from “across the lake” were gorgeous.

Beautiful views from Walter Peak Farm.

And, of course, I got to see my first-ever sheep shearing while I was there.

The sheep didn’t seem to mind the shearing at all.

Un-Sheared © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Before:  “I need a haircut!!”

I think they must feel very light and free after being sheared.

Sheared © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

“Aren’t I beautiful with my haircut?”

I particularly found the demonstration of the dogs herding the sheep interesting.

The dogs were amazing …. so responsive to one word commands.

“The dog says we’re supposed to go THIS way!”

At the end of the day, I had time to do some exploring and hiking in, and around, Queenstown Gardens.

Queenstown Gardens

If I lived nearby, I think I’d hang out in Queenstown Gardens daily.

It’s so beautiful and peaceful.

New Zealand, Part I

New Zealand, Part II: Bay of Islands

New Zealand, Part III:  More Bay of Islands

New Zealand, Part IV:  Queenstown