As many of you know, I have been fighting some health issues for the past years. One of the things that I had hoped for at the beginning of 2016 was that I wouldn’t have to see any more doctors or hospitals this year. That though didn’t last very long since three weeks into the year I had to undergo surgery for a problem that surfaced without warning. A little over four months later, I will be back on the surgeons table even though I had really hoped that it wouldn’t be necessary.
About a year ago Jaden, in his enthusiasm to greet a neighbour, dropped me and dragged me for a couple of meters. This was my third severe fall within a year and this time I hurt my left shoulder pretty badly. Jaden was about 40kg then, very stubborn and strong willed, in his difficult teenage years (he still is in them!) and being a strong muscular dog I did not have much of a chance when he pulled with all his strength. Tests at that time showed that although the shoulder was injured, it would heal with time, rest and physiotherapy. However I realised that I could not afford him dropping me yet again, so it was off to puppy school with him. Disciplining a 40kg puppy by picking him up by the scruff of his neck or holding him back with a severely injured shoulder was perhaps not the best way to let the shoulder heal, but I knew that it had to be done before he ended up hurting me even more (I’d already had badly bruised ribs and painful open knees and elbows from the first two falls).
The good thing about those hours at puppy school were that Jaden listens now, is much calmer and hasn’t dropped me since. The bad thing is that my shoulder suffered with all that heaving. Between puppy school, moving house last year, Bernd’s appendicitis OP and the fact that Bernd’s job involves travel, I ended up doing way too much with an injured shoulder. Early this year, my physiotherapist advised me to get a second opinion (since the shoulder was just not getting better) and recommended a well known shoulder specialist in Munich. New tests revealed that the shoulder had worsened, I now had a SLAP Lesion 2 (medical terms to describe tears in the cartilage around the shoulder socket) and an operation was urgently needed before the shoulder lost all mobility and/or the cartilage tore through completely. Tests also showed that since I had continued to use the damaged shoulder, I now had a slipped disc too which did not look good at all.
Surgery on the injured shoulder meant that my left arm would be in a sling for over a period of about 4-6 weeks and because I had an important family event coming up in April, I knew I could not have that surgery immediately. The shoulder specialist is a reputable and well known surgeon who was going to be on vacation for two weeks in May, so the next possible date that we found was in June. Since I was in a lot of pain, the surgeon decided to inject me with painkillers every three weeks to help me get through till June.
So today I will be going into surgery to finally repair my shoulder. The past months have been very strenuous on the shoulder, with the only respite that I got was when we were traveling. Although Jaden is easier to walk now, the 10km that I walk him every day are not exactly ideal for my slipped disc and injured shoulder. Newer tests taken last week show that there is a second tear now that needs to be stitched too.
The coming weeks are going to be pretty tough. The operation itself is a minor one, but I have to be very careful that I do not move or overexert the arm and open up the stitches. Patience with myself has never been one of my virtues and the surgeon is pretty sure I will be pushing my limits very soon and trying to be back on my feet soonest possible. But he has warned me that for the first three weeks I am not allowed to lift the arm at all and after that I will be allowed to move it slowly, depending on how it heals.
To say that I am not very happy about it all would be an understatement. Going through a full anaesthesia again so soon is not the best thing for my body. As I have mentioned before, I do not have much of a support system here in Germany; Bernd has a job that involves travel and even if he can be here for the initial phase, I am going to be pretty handicapped for more than just two-three weeks. Practical things like grooming my long hair, getting dressed, cooking etc. with the use of just one hand will be a challenge and Jaden will not be too pleased that I cannot romp and play with him like I normally do. Plus all the medical expenses (physiotherapy, multiple scans and tests, special painkiller injections) are not fully reimbursed by the health insurance and I have had to dip deep into my savings. All this means that I need to be back on my feet soonest possible.
Jaden seems to sense something is up today. I was going through the papers that I need to
take with me and had prepared a bag with the medication that I need, my shoulder sling and other things. He was playing in the living room and came over suddenly, put his head between my legs and stood absolutely still, obviously wanting to be petted. He then sniffed the sling, checked out the other things in the bag, gave a sigh and put his head right back between my legs. This is very unusual since long cuddle sessions early morning and in the middle of play time are not quite his thing. After about 10 minutes of being petted, he lay down at my feet with a very worried look on his face. Absolutely adorable.
The next weeks are going to be quite strenuous even for someone like me who is known for being very strong and stress resistant. But there are upsides too – since I will be unable to travel in the next weeks and will not be able to use my left arm much, I hope to finally find time to read those books that I have been planning to, write more blog posts (albeit with one and maybe a half hand) and listen to all those podcasts that are on my list. After a few weeks I hope to be able to swim again , to romp even more wildly with my puppy, to not be afraid of being dropped badly every time Jaden sees a pheasant or a rabbit, to be able to jog again without regretting it later (the tense shoulders and slipped disc had started to affect my lower back and jogging was getting painful), to be able to lift my suitcase without wincing, to sleep through without awakening every now and then in agony, to live without this constant and often unbearable pain that I have been in since over a year and to take Jaden back to puppy school.
But in all this I am holding on to the promise that God will carry me through the challenging weeks ahead and give me the strength, patience and healing that I need – one day at a time…..