Monday, February 12, 2007

What I Learned Following My Shoulder Surgery

Doctors lie.

They are not uniform in their chicanery, but when it comes to a medical procedure, those at the top of the medical food chain will inevitably tell you, "You'll be on your feet in no time!"

I have undergone four surgeries in my adult life; on only one occasion did the surgeon give me the honest, unvarnished truth. "We can fix it, but you're going to be miserable."

Though I will spare the details of the sensation of having plastic splints rammed up one's nose for a fortnight, suffice it to say I indeed was miserable for two weeks. The doctor was a small, genial man with spectacles and a yarmulke pinned to his thinning hair, and all I remember from the procedure, which took place on a Friday morning, was being wheeled into the operating room, high on Demerol, and trying to say, "Shabbat Shalom!"

(That, and being awoken in the recovery room by two twin five-year-old boys who had undergone a circumcision and were running around screaming as their unsheaved weiners dangled between their legs.)

Preceding this latest round of going under the knife — the arthroscope, to be precise — the orthopedic surgeon assured me that after he had repaired the crunchy bits inside my shoulder, I could go back to work nearly immediately. He was a strapping lad with shoulder-length hair and a bedside manner so devoid of irony you might say he really believed what he said. He was handsome in a rugged, jock sort of way, as if he were the ideal Nice Jewish Boy from a Philip Roth novel.

However, this was the first doctor of any type younger than me, so I should have figured something was amiss.

Sure, I can work, as long as I don't move my shoulder. I can type, as long as I don't move my shoulder. I can surf the Internet, as long as I don't move my shoulder.

In fact, I can drink beer, ski, make love, or play racketball, as long as I don't move my shoulder. I can even play quarterback for the Bears, who, given what happened in the Super Bowl, might have been better served with a quarterback who didn't move his shoulder.

This is the first that I have sat down and wrote anything over one paragraph, save for what I have managed to do at the office. For all the blogs unvisited, you are not unloved, as I know you were wondering about that.

Besides learning that physicians will minimize the pain ahead, I also learned some other valuable lessons over the past three weeks:

•I found out that no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to apply deoderant using one hand.

•Tangential to that, when you can't lift one arm for an extended peroid, stuff grows in the armpit.

Don't know what I want, but I know how to get it

•Tylenol is good; Darvocet is better; TV is qucker.

•Typing when one's shoulder has swollen to the size of a small circus animal is really, really painful.

•Rex Grossman is a good a quarterback as I am a male model. But you already knew that.

•Someone sent me the greatest piece of footage on Youtube. It combines two of my favorite things on the planet — Judge Judy and the Sex Pistols. John Lydon — that's Johnny Rotten to those of you not in the know — is the defendant on Judge Judy. I am not making this up. Check it out here. It nurtured me through the pain.

•Wearing a sling is a foolproof way to strike up conversations with strangers. I just wish I had known this before I had gotten married.

•I am the most impatient person on the planet, which probably set my recovery back, oh, two years.

•I shouldn't have tried cutting my chicken.

•I shouldn't have tried mixing painkillers with bourbon, scotch, or vodka. Especially vodka.

•I shouldn't have tried hands-free peeing.

•I shouldn't have tried blogging today.

•I'm going to ice my shoulder.