Saturday, February 11, 2017

Prepare To Be... DISARMED

Remember that time John had his ear surgery, and he passed out as they were trying to get the IV in his hand, then they came and got me after the fact and I took a picture of him looking like death in a purple smock?

That was fun.

SO WE'RE DOING IT AGAIN.

Surgery, I mean. Not so much the passing-out-in-a-purple-smock thing. I hope. And not because it's fun; the part where I wrote that was totally sarcastic. And this time instead of his ear, it's his shoulder.

Maybe I should start again.

JOHN'S LOSING HIS ARM ON MONDAY FOR SIX WEEKS AND THIS IS VERY INCONVENIENT FOR ME.

Us, I mean. Inconvenient for us. Aheh. Heh. ... Love you, babe!

You have questions. I understand. I have answers.

So, why is John having surgery?

I'll answer that question... with another non sequitur:

If, perchance, you ever think that using one of these is a good idea:

 Don't.

That's called an "ab wheel," and it's used by attractive fitness models to convince you that you will NOT injure yourself while using it.

John was lured in by this circular logic (heyoo) nearly a year ago, and over-extended and tore something or other in his shoulder, which, when combined with about a decade's worth of damage from painting decorative ceilings over his head, resulted in a LOT of complaining. I mean pain. Sorry. A lot of pain.

It's been keeping John up nights for over 6 months now, and after all the tests (ALL of them) and an MRI that required his too-large shoulders to be wedged in at an angle in the "Stayin' Alive" position (my gosh I wish they allowed selfies in there), it was determined John has a labral tear and a bunch of arthritis build-up in his right shoulder. Ergo, the surgery.

The surgery's actually the easy part, though. Well, for us. I mean, John just has to lie there unconscious, and I've got Magic Kingdoms to play in the waiting room, so... yeah, we're pretty good with that part.

The hard part is the recovery, which requires John be in a sling that keeps his arm a little ways out from body for six whole weeks. Any wrong movement or jarring could break free the tendon/muscle/thingy they're re-attaching, so he can't even use his hand for the first week or so. He'll have to sleep sitting up and go to physical therapy three times a week, and he won't be able to dress or shower on his own for a while. (Actually, John' pretty happy about that last one. Surprise, surprise.)

Yeah, that's about his face when he reminds me I'll be helping him shower on Valentine's Day.

We've been doing our best to prepare for Disarmed John Time (DJT), because - for those who don't know us IRL - John does all the cooking, driving, lawn care, and bear hugging around here. And just like Inigo Montoya, John is NOT left-handed.

I won't lie, when I first heard John would be without his dominant hand/arm for so long, I was a little panicked. I felt wholly unequipped to help, and my fear mostly focused on one unavoidable responsibility: driving.

I've been making real progress with my anxiety and agoraphobia, but driving has been shoved from the back burner onto the metaphorical floor, and it's been years since I drove with any regularity. That's super embarrassing...  and hard to admit, you guys.

In some ways this comes at a good time, though, because I have made progress. Exposure therapy works. In just a few years I went from being panicked just sitting in a car to taking long trips for granted again. Then several weeks ago I had to drive a short distance alone - a first in years - and it went so well that when I got home I completely freaked John out by bursting into happy tears.

So on Thursday John and I spent all afternoon running errands for DJT, and I drove everywhere. The post office, the doctor's office, the drug store, two different grocery stores, TWICE to Wal-Mart, heck, even a drive-through for lunch. I drove all afternoon into the evening, and as we got home that night, I remembered. I remembered how much I used to love driving at night. I remembered the way it made me feel powerful and independent. I remembered the fun.

I think these next 6 weeks are going to be OK, you guys. I think I'm going to step up, and I'm going to take care of the one who always takes care of me. (Though I'm sure the food won't be as good, so sorry in advance for that, Sweetie.)

Best of all, even if it's not OK, even if something goes wrong and John's arm isn't fixed or I wake up shaking and panicked and too scared to face the world again, I know we'll still get through. We've got friends and family willing to step in, and we have the most incredible online community rooting for us. With support like that, it's hard NOT to believe we can take on the world.

Which isn't to say I wouldn't turn down a casserole or two, local friends. Just sayin'.


John's surgery is this Monday afternoon, so I'll probably be posting updates on Facebook that day, if you're curious to see how he's doing. Happy thoughts and good juju, please! 

68 comments:

  1. John - you are brave and extraordinary! Jen - you are brave and extraordinary! I've never seen such a compassionate pair of partners as you two. You can do this! From one Hashimoto+anxiety-ridden person to another, I admire your small steps and courage. I'm pulling for you from Ohio.... I humbly offer my prayers to the One who can bring healing and peace. Speedy recovery, John! Listen to your doctors! Be gentle with yourself, Jen! You are loved just the way you are! -- Annie Ominous <3

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  2. Good wishes for the surgery going well and for the recovery being smooth! Also, I need to say that I really appreciate the model you two provide of a close couple working together and creating your own balance, not just following traditional gender roles. As a woman who works full-time and struggles with also keeping up with all of the other (cooking, shopping, cleaning, etc.), I sometimes feel like I'm failing. But it's good to be reminded that my husband and I can do whatever works for us.

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  3. Good luck! Make lots of one armed man jokes.

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  4. Sending y9u both all kinds of good thoughts.

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  5. Best of luck with the surgery, and to both of you for the recovery! You're going to do great Jen! My thoughts will be with you both on Monday. If I was local, I would totally bring you a casserole.

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  6. Wishing you both all the best!

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  7. You have TOTALLY got this! Thoughts are with you both, as no one likes surgery... except surgeons I guess. Lots of positives being sent your way xxx

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  8. This could be a good time to try out meal delivery services! They're not cheap, but I did one of the intro offers for right after I had my baby and boy, was it handy.

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  9. Mhy husband just had surgery for a torn labrum in November. Not to worry you, but be prepared for recovery to take a lot longer than 6 weeks, depending on the tear. His was so bad, they had to relocate the bicep muscle to compensate, which adds time for recovery. Then a week or so ago, one of his PTs was following recommended protocol instead of reading the other PTs' notes, overdid it, and set him back probably 6 weeks. Only plus side for me is 6 more weeks of him sleeping in a recliner and me not having to listen to snoring all night long! Best of luck to John for a QUICK recovery lol.

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  10. Prayers and good vibes for you both! :)

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  11. Happy thoughts and good juju!!!!!! And darn-it-all ... I WISH I was a local friend, I would so be in my kitchen right now whipping up a casserole or two!

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  12. You've got this. You'd be surprised at how taking care of someone else will push everything else out of your mind. I had surgery myself three weeks ago. I thought my hubby, who hates the sight of icky stuff would not be able to handle it, but he did. And you will, too. And I wholly commiserate with John - it's not easy to have to depend on someone else, and to not be able to do things. I'll be thinking about you both and sending positive vibes your way!

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  13. Glad you're all doing so well, proud of you Jen! And I'm glad John went with the six-week option to give you the chance to feel like you can do it...plus to give his shoulder the best chance of recovery. RT and RB and ABXY won't push themselves, you know!

    I think I can speak for the Epbootie FaceBots that you can call on us if you think of anything you need, right?

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  14. Best wishes for a very successful surgery, and speedy and recovery! And minimum stress in the interim. :)

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  15. Good juju, happy thoughts, prayers for the skilled surgeon and staff and you are all coming your way. BTW - baby wipes are good for taking impromptu spit baths when necessary. Deodorant can only do so much.....

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  16. I had almost the same exact surgery a year ago, on Feb. 17. If this is laproscopic surgery, he'll be moving that arm much sooner than you think. (I had that very same sexy sling, too. They took the bumper portion off after about 2 weeks, but your milage may vary.) Partial tears in both my labral and biceps tendons, and they cleaned up my rotator cuff. A lot will depend on how his doctor does business, so keep that in mind. It is a slow process to get full recovery, though. I'm almost at full range of motion, and very little soreness these days. My husband and kids were a big help, and the hubs really didn't mind me needing help in the shower, either. ;) Wishing you both the best of luck and John a speedy recovery!

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  17. Meal train is a great option for friends to volunteer to make meals. Feel better John, the hubby of Jen.

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  18. I currently have frozen right shoulder and I am usually very right-handed. I have been training myself to do many things left-handed, including mousing. Hopefully John will surprise you with how much he is able to do. Many many good thoughts and prayers winging their way to you from Australia. Good luck with it all and I hope it all goes well and you do surprise yourselves with how well you cope. Lisa

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  19. You got this! I also had to overcome a driving phobia to help with a relative's medical care. The first time involved a 30-mile trip to the emergency room, because if you're a veteran you HAVE to go to the VA. Not gonna lie: I almost fainted from terror when I picked him up from surgery the first time. But I didn't! After a while I actually started to enjoy driving again, and I even took a solo road trip a couple months ago. You're gonna get there, too. I SUPER believe in you!

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  20. All the best for John's surgery and recovery and your stint at being the Care Bear, Jen!

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  21. I'm sending good vibrations your way! If you guys need cake, reach out on Facebook, I'm in your neck of the woods!

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  22. Ppor John! Wishing him luck on the surgery!

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  23. You can do it! Way to go

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  24. Both of you are in my prayers. Its amazing what you can do when you dont have a choice! Youll both be ok. Hugs!

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  25. all of the good thoughts to you both. all of them. <3

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  26. The very best thoughts to you both...my Mom did almost no driving for many years as did my best friend's mother (she actually no longer had a driver's license) and then some medical things happened to both our dads and the women rose up like champions. It's still an impressive thing to me - to do something you are afraid of, or something that upsets you, because the people in your life need you to do it. So, be very proud of your current driving accomplishments, feel free to avoid the ones that are too hard (my Mom still does everything on earth to not drive at night, and Dad and I do everything we can to help her out with that one), and best wishes for good humor and a speedy recovery! (PS: With all things surgical, days three and four are usually the worst - the pain has gone on for a little too long, the stress has gotten a little too much, and the good humor has fallen off the truck. It's okay - ask for help...) Pulling for you both!

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  27. John-Best wishes on recovery! I went through shoulder surgery years ago and, well, it sucks. But so worth it! I'll be sending you good thoughts!

    Jen, You got this girl! You can do anything you put your mind to. Even though we have never met in person, you are one of the strongest people I know. You can do this! I'll be cheering you on!

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  28. All the best of thoughts for you both. So happy you feel equipped to deal with this and if not, at least know that you _will_ be able to get through it. Huge hugs to both of you. I would send you a casserole, but pretty sure they don't travel well across country.

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  29. Good Luck with the surgery! I'm 12 weeks into recovery from a shoulder repair (torn labral tendon and shredded rotator cuff). It's a long road, but totally worth it! Hit me up on FOE/PM if you want any advice or sympathy! Lynn Golden Mason

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  30. If John has to go through surgery, I'm glad there was a little silver lining in that you rediscovered your love of driving at night. It *is* different, and magical in a way.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery, and you WILL get through this. Both of you.

    (I'm not Lois, I'm her fiancee, Anissa, but I'm too lazy to log out and in.)

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  31. Prayers for all to go well, in every regard! (The sleeping sitting up sounds almost like the worst part to me, though perhaps John will beg to differ when he's dealing with the pain from surgery . . . ). You guys are amazing - you can do this!

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  32. Not much to say other that go you!! You've got this!!

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  33. Good luck with the surgery and the recuperation,I wish I was in a position ( not over here in the UK) to offer actual assistance.

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  34. Happy, positive thoughts coming your way :)
    Good luck to John in his recovery :)
    The next 6 weeks might be tough but you guys got this and if you need anyone to turn to you know you have all of us!
    Driving was hard for me too at first. I didn't want to, didn't think I needed to, and it was just plain scary. But then I learned the trick of it (driving is easy but be patient with yourself) - and it became fun for me. Confidence is key, and that'll come in time. But it's helpful to go out to an empty parking lot and just drive around. Get to know your vehicle intimately, learn it's quirks and how to deal. Anxiety sucks big time and I can't imagine agoraphobia on top of it.
    But if you need any of us we're all here rooting for you :)

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  35. If John can't move his arm, check out Goodwill stores check them out for some oversized button-up short-sleeve shirts. They are cheap, and you can donate them back when he is better. We did this when my hubby had a quad bypass and couldn't move much. Best of luck to John tomorrow!

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    1. That's a great idea! We bought a few from Wal-Mart, but thrift store is even better. Thanks!

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  36. Waitwaitwait...

    If he *did* dress up as Inigo Montoya, would that make him....

    ...a one-armed bandit?

    I'll see myself out.

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  37. Jen, while I'm sorry John has to have surgery and I am sending lots of good thoughts, I think you're amazing. Way to face your fears!

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  38. Good luck with everything! You guys are such an awesome team. Sending positive vibes!

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  39. You can do this, both of you! A couple of years ago, my husband was laid up after a head on collision with a drunk driver and I found myself in the position of doing all the driving for several months. On the day he gave me instructions how to find my way out of the Walmart parking lot (which I'd been doing several times a week for the past decade), I almost snapped, but we got through it. I've even driven with him in the car since then. Just remember to be patient with each other. Having someone take care of you after surgery is frustrating...and so is being the caregiver.

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  40. You guys rock. I hope you get your driving mojo back, I always loved to drive and miss it a lot. ESPECIALLY driving at night - long stretches with the windows down going across the high desert or through the mountains...
    Take care of yourselves, you've got this.

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  41. Jen,

    It is AMAZING what you can do when you have to. For nearly eleven years I would NOT drive in Pittsburgh; would NOT do it! I had a husband that knew the city so why bother, right? Then this past November my daughter had a Neurology appointment and the husband was not available so I drove. I prayed about it first and then I DID IT! We made it just fine even though we got lost when she read the wrong directions but we STILL MADE IT and I DID FINE. These are happy yells as I'm sure you understand.
    Wish you the best of luck and you two will be in our prayers.

    Maureen

    P.S. It was great to see you in Pittsburgh.

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  42. Good (((((VIBES))))) for the both of you!

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  43. Much love and strength to you both, as always. As the Brits say, "And more power to yer arm!" You guys got this; John is wrapped in SO much love and goodwill, as are you.

    Re: Driving: Girl, if it makes you feel any better? I'm a native Californian staring down the barrel of turning 49, and I don't even know HOW to drive. My Mom never really drove, and when she left my Dad, we never had the money (or need, really) to buy one, and I was home schooled so obviously, no driver's ed! What's a girl to do? Only date guys with cars, of course. And by the time I started to consider it, I was already diagnosed with panic/anxiety and couldn't deal with the concept. I did drive my homegirl's car around a parking lot once, 20+ years ago, late at night when it was empty; she insisted that I should know at least the bare basics of operating a car, in case Bowie forbid there should ever be some dire emergency where my life depended on it. It was OK, I guess, like Autopia but without the track; I was too terrified to go full-on Speed Racer. So, I know how, but I don't. Luckily, The Vulcan enjoys driving, but we have to have our friend drive him home from oral surgery and such. Meh?

    Oh, and I need to thank you for helping me get my life back. I knew there was something (well, a crap-ton of things) physically wrong with me, besides my chronic lifelong depression, migraines, and insomnia. I kept reading about your struggles and your finally being diagnosed with Hashi's, looked up the Wiki for hypothyroid, and was shocked to have literally EVERY sign and symptom one could present! With The Vulcan's new job last year has come awesome health insurance, so I had a bunch of tests run, and guess what? I've been on thyroid meds for exactly one month now, and I feel SO MUCH better! It actually makes me mad at myself and the bloody universe that I didn't do this YEARS ago, I feel like I wasted so much of my 40's feeling miserable.

    SISTERS! If you're reading this and think you might have a thyroid issue, PLEASE find a way to get tested and get treatment. YMMV, but I swear, I feel the same way with this as I did when my Zoloft kicked in; I had no real idea how craptastic I really felt until I started to feel better.

    So yeah, thank you, darling Jen, for pointing me in the right direction. Not for the first time, and surely not the last. Have I told you recently that I adore you? (In a "Yer my lil' straightgirl friend" kinda way, of course! ;)

    Kisses and head-butts,

    Storm the Klingon

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  44. Good luck John! I know you will both be fine and you will make it through all the challenges of these next 6 weeks with flying colours! :-) xxx

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  45. Much love and luck! From one injured-shoulder-having person to another, I hope all goes well, and Jen, you'll totally be a driving, care-giving, sarcasm-deilvering badass. You both got this!

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  46. Having had 3 friends with shoulder surgery recently - get a really comfy Reclining Chair because that is where John will be for the first couple of weeks. Then get a fab PT to help with recovery.

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  47. thinking about you both today. hope surgery goes smooth and easily for all. heal fast John. DSA

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  48. Aw, I wish I were on Facebook to get the updates. Thinking good thoughts for you both. Like you, driving freaks me out -- I refuse to drive in cities and I have good and bad days about just driving around my small town. Like John, (well I assume he's like that if he nearly faints at an IV) I am phobic of IV's. Also, like John, I injured myself with a danged Ab Roller. In my case, I stretched way out, and it snapped back too quickly, and my chin hit the floor extremely hard. I almost needed stitches, and it looked like I'd been in a bar fight. It was then I decided that exercise is extremely hazardous to my health!

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  49. Prayers and best wishes for you both during DJT!

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  50. Good luck with the surgery John. My husband had the same thing last fall, and he enjoyed the shower time as well. Piglets. All of you. :) Driving is my favorite thing, so enjoy the ride.

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  51. I am 3 months and one month out from having each of my hips replaced due to severe arthritis. (I turn 50 in April.) Everything went very well. But I have to say it's a bit weird, as an adult, having your mom help with showering. When it's all getting to be too much, just remember that's it's all temporary. Sending good vibes your way.

    Bad joke that's stuck with me since childhood:
    How do you get a one-armed man out of a tree?
    Wave at him.;)

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  52. good luck! I hope it all goes smoothly and everything goes off without a hitch. I tried to think of some great puns, but I'm coming up empty... just like John's right sleeves for the next six weeks! HEYOOOO! It was a stretch, but I tried.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery, John!

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  53. Sending best wishes and good vibes to you both! ❤

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  54. sending good vibes!
    i'm SURE it'll be fine!

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  55. Good luck!!!

    For a smile, I recently came upon sth I though you'd like: a Van Gogh action figure with tiny detachable ear! :D

    http://mymodernmet.com/van-gogh-action-figure-detachable-ear-toy/

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  56. So proud of you!!!!! Keep up the hard work! I have BPD and have done extensive therapy to try to manage it so I can some what relate!! GO JEN GO!!!!!

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  57. sending love and strength to you both. hope the recovery is quick!

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  58. Best wishes and good, fast healing to John! Hope all goes as well as possible!

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  59. I'm sending my good thoughts and prayers for John's smooth surgery and uneventful recovery. And sending much love to you both!

    If you need anything, I'd be happy to make the drive from NC to Orlando to help. (Looking for an excuse to make my yearly pilgrimage to Disney and Universal early. ;)

    Allons-y!
    -Wendy
    Raleigh, NC



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  60. so much love and healing thoughts!

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  61. Best of luck to you both! I'll also say, as someone who was living away from home with no family in a tall apartment building when I broke my right leg badly and was on crutches for six months and couldn't drive -- (1) grocery delivery is amazing and often comes with a one month free offer; (2) you can buy pretty much everything on Amazon if push comes to shove; and (3) it's ok if not everything gets done perfectly, or as quickly as you are used to! Not because we don't have faith in your ability to do hard things, but because sometimes when there is an injury or someone is recovering, there's just too much for one person to do. Good luck, loads of happy thoughts, and (this goes for both of you) please accept/ask for help when you need it!

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  62. Well, you have an arm-y of well-wishers to support you if you need to vent about shoulder-ing the stress. :p

    A good recovery and lots of patience to you both!

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  63. I'm glad that all the driving went so well for you! Here's to a speedy recovery for John and lots of happy thoughts to you both!

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