Monday Notes: 4 Lessons Learned from Rotator Cuff/Bicep Tendon Surgery*

Guess who was released from physical therapy? That’s right. Me!

I convalesced for six weeks in a sling. I maintained physical therapy for nine weeks. Now, two months ahead of schedule, I’m back in the business of being me. And so, I have a few lessons learned or reinforced from this experience:

It’s okay to have a range of emotions.

I was angry when I tore my rotator cuff and bicep tendon. I was anxious at the idea of having surgery. I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to use my dominant arm to do everyday activities; things like blogging, revising my memoir, or grading online work. I was bothered by the idea that I had to sit around and…heal. But I didn’t allow others to force me into a space of gratitude, joy, or happiness. I didn’t allow others to invalidate my feelings.

I knew any emotion that surfaced would be fleeting, that I wouldn’t feel angry, anxious, sad, or bored forever, and I was right. Eventually, my emotions shifted. I was joyful on some days, and once I was able to exercise, less moody. Just to reiterate…it is totally fine to have a range of emotions, even if others are uncomfortable with you having them.

It’s okay to ask for help.

For various reasons, I have hyper-independent tendencies. I can do it myself, I often say, even if doing it myself is more challenging. However, there is no room for hyper-independence when you are one-handed. Showering and dressing require assistance.

And I didn’t like it.

Days after surgery, my voice shrank smaller and smaller each time I had to ask Dwight for another glass of water. But these circumstances left me with no choice. Over time, I grew more used to asking for help and not seeing it as a weakness. I’m not saying this has totally resolved itself, but I have accepted that receiving help is not bad. Sometimes, it’s necessary.

Listen to your body.

Part of what got me into this situation was not listening to my body. And what’s gotten me back to 100% is…listening to my body. Once I was out of the sling, I noticed that my shoulder ached when I slept. I didn’t reach out to the doctor or physical therapist to ask for advice. Instead, I put a pillow under it for support. Later, Dawn confirmed this was the right thing to do for all kinds of medical reasons. First, I listened to my body, then I did what I thought was best…in a lot of situations, this is the way toward strengthening your intuition.

Ultimately, I didn’t need Dawn to confirm if I was doing better. I learned to monitor my own progress. If I could move my arm higher, then I was doing well.

Healing is not just physical.

My husband has been amazing. I could write 1200 more words about how he has embodied the phrase in sickness and in health. He has done everything you’d think he is supposed to do because I couldn’t fend for myself.

But others’ love and care has also been integral. For example, my oldest daughter put some braids in my hair; my youngest daughter cooked dinner a few times, took my braids out, and detangled my hair; my sister talked to me daily for two weeks and sent money for lunch. My father-in-law texted me every day, until my two-week appointment.

A friend bought me the cutest and most comfy house shoes ever because she intentionally wanted me to be comfortable, while I “rested or wrote!” One friend talked to me once a week on my walk. Another friend sent me chocolates that spelled out a recovery message. A different friend picked me up and took me to the movies and lunch to relieve my boredom.

And of course, the blogging community has been instrumental in allowing me to share a range of emotions and offering well wishes publicly and privately.

Relationships are important to me, and I’m sure my healing process would’ve gone differently had friends and family not actively shown love and compassion.

* I promise this is my last post about my rotator cuff and bicep tendon. I’m about to go prep for my birthday trip 🥳


67 thoughts on “Monday Notes: 4 Lessons Learned from Rotator Cuff/Bicep Tendon Surgery*

  1. I am glad you are mending well. Of course, what a statement! Thank you for sharing all of this. When I ruptured my bicep, “they” declined to fix it because I’m a para and need the arm for transfers. Now my wife is having issues that might well be rotator cuff, so this is great info for us. – George 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Katherin, I’m still a bit foggy and sorry I didn’t reply to your post sooner. Did you write this for me? It sure felt that way – I related to every word! I definitely rely on my right hand and this whole pinky thing has been an adjustment – I know you know! Things are going better for me and like you, I’ve learned a lot of lessons whenever I’ve had to go through challenges in my life.
    Thank you for clarifying all the good things that helped you through. Wishing you the most wonderful birthday celebration ever. I can’t wait to read all about your triumphs and thrills. You have me hanging on for those posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha No worries, Judy! I know you’re recovering from your own injury ❤

      Thank you for reading and commenting, even in the midst of your own trial. I receive all of your well wishes. It's gonna be a lot of fun…this I know 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Asking for help is a tough one for me. I so appreciate you sharing your experience, the accompanying emotions, the resilience, the awareness of your own needs and allowing others to help. Sounds like you have a very supportive family. I’m glad you’re getting back to normal! Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Birthday trip, that sounds great! I’m so glad for you, that now you’re able to look back at the journey of surgery and recovery, and feel like you really made it through the rough spots with all that great help from different people. You’re clearly a very loved person, what a wonderful feeling to have all those helping hands buoy you along the way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Letting others take care of you is gonna be a bit uncomfortable for a minute. I had to lean into it, until it settled.

      So glad I could offer this to you ahead of time 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! It warms my heart to read about all the love and support you got going through healing! What a wonderful blessing! Healing is great, learning life lessons from it? even better!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hang onto those people and nurture those relationships, for they are rare!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes! This is amazing! It’s an awesome barometer of the building you have done in your relationships! Love this!!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Congrats on being done with therapy! And I’m so glad that you stood firm on your right to experience and express your emotions. We do so much harm when we try to deny people the right to feel angry or sad when bad stuff happens to them. No one can be forced to feel better until they are actually ready to feel better. I’m still sorry you tore you rotator cuff, but I’m glad you had the wisdom to learn some good life lessons from the whole experience!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Ann!

      I am, too. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s almost like I had to become strong enough in a different way to be able to say, “hey…let me be emotional,” or whatever 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing the whole range so beautifully always! It is true it takes these hurts to learn to listen to our body more deeply and live from that listening – also learn to receive from those around us 🙂 I loved how you said – I didn’t allow others to force me into a space of gratitude, joy, or happiness. I didn’t allow others to invalidate my feelings.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Help is not an easy thing for us independent folks to ask for. Kudos to you for taking the leap and assuring us it is OK to do so. Kudos to your hubby for his patience and willingness to do whatever you needed and your friends for being creative and thoughtful. It takes a village to heal a shoulder. 😀

    Liked by 5 people

  9. If you need to talk about something, get it out. Thank you for sharing all your feels during this time. People need to know they’re not the only ones who feel these things.💗

    Liked by 3 people

Comments are welcomed

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s