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The New Year starts with a sling

The Examiner

It’s just a matter of time before the tables will turn, I reminded him while cutting up his food, as I secretly hoped my rotator cuff never gets ripped apart.

Sandy Turner

It took the surgeon less than an hour to reconnect the cuff with a few anchors and stitches and sent us on our way to deal with the hubs’s non-working right arm. Too bad he isn’t left-handed. For the first few hours it seemed to be a breeze, until the numbness wore off, and the pain set in. No amount of medicine seemed to be doing the trick so I took matters into my own hands (which both are still in good working order, thank goodness).

His right arm was strapped to his chest in a contraption with so much Velcro nothing was going to budge. In an effort to keep the ice pack directly on the bandaged incision I thought it would be a good idea to pin it under his shirt to keep it in place. After I poked a hole in the bag and freezing water ran down his chest, I was banned from helping with the pain-management process.

The doctor sent home a DVD of the entire process, and on day three of recovery we decided to watch the surgery. It was interesting to see how the torn tissues were clamped back together, and about halfway through the surgeon had a slip of the tongue, or perhaps the knife, when he yelled for the recording to be turned off. We both looked at each other, wondering what must have gone wrong, but when the doctor turned the recording back on, it was as if nothing had happened. That’s the advantage, or perhaps disadvantage, of being sound asleep during surgery.

The arm was strapped to his chest for 10 days, and for the majority of that time I tried to stay out of his way unless he needed my help. The massive amount of bandage tape on his shoulder started to itch, and after a week he desperately wanted it off. The only way I was going to risk tearing off this surgical tape was if the doctor's office said it was OK. With only one arm functioning, he had no choice but to call, as he couldn’t do it himself. They said absolutely not. The tape couldn’t be removed, and if the area itched, to just tap on it. I nearly laughed out loud, on the thought of him tapping his misery away.

The next day we made an executive decision, and I peeked under the tape as he was miserable. An ugly rash had developed under the tape and contraption he’d been sworn to wear 24/7, and he still had seven days to go. No amount of “tapping” was going to remedy this mess.

We were successful in removing everything and, over time, the mad rash went away. The contraption is now off, although his arm still can’t be used and is in a sling. Recovery can take up to six months.

The lesson learned is, if you’ve gone over the hill, and the push mower won’t start on the third pull, don’t try, try again, unless you want to damage a body part.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at