Unless you’re connected to me on Facebook or are watching some of the videos from my personal YouTube channel, you probably don’t know what’s been going on in my life lately. If you don’t care, then don’t go any further than this. If you do, I’ve got more to share with you. At the end of this article I’ll have a point to make.
Tired me in a sling
Let’s start off with this particular fact. On March 19th I had shoulder surgery on my right shoulder. I had to have the surgery to repair a couple of torn tendons, which came from a car accident I had back in 2019. I’ve been dealing with the pain because that’s what I do, but Cortisone shots stopped working and the doctor recommended that I finally have the surgery.
Not wanting to be missed for a long period of time, since I had no idea what kind of condition I might be in, I wrote a bunch of articles and I did videos in advance of the day of the surgery. I didn’t write as much as I wanted to, but I did what I could. After all, I still had other obligations, which included taking care of my mother and a couple of other things I’m not going to get into. But I thought I did pretty well, and I had an expectation of how things were going to go over the next 4 to 6 weeks.
It turns out that expectations you don’t have control over almost never come true the way you hope they will. A week after my surgery, my mother ended up in the hospital. She ended up needing antibiotics for six days, and then she went into rehab facility to try to get her strength back up so she could walk well again. It turns out that particular expectation went out the window as well, and instead of talking about it I’m going to share the video I did about it.
It’s a long video, so you might start and then decide you don’t want to watch the rest of it, but from the people who have watched all of it I guess it turns out to be compelling and an interesting indictment on the health care system, which is a shame because I’m a health care finance consultant.
In any case, I did try to prepare ahead of time for what I thought was coming. Not only did I create content ahead of time, but I started practicing doing a lot of things with my left hand. It turns out that wasn’t close to being enough that I needed to use my left hand for, and the only bit of practice that actually ended up being valuable was being able to pull on a shirt. That’s a shame, but that’s life.
Anyway, Mom goes into the hospital, and suddenly for the first time in four years I’m spending a night in the house all by myself. My first thought was one of the goofiest things in the world. I thought about hopping in the car and driving about 1 ½ hours to the closest Krispy Kreme, which is in Pennsylvania, buying a dozen doughnuts and driving back home. I had to immediately squash that because I really couldn’t drive locally, so there was no way I was going to be able to drive long distance.
Most of my online friends said I should take the time to relax, read a book, watch some movies or do whatever else I do to try to relax since I finally had the time to do something like that. The problem I have is that I don’t really know how to relax. I spend most of my time sitting at my computer writing or researching things, and even though that’s not relaxing it has a way of giving me fulfillment.
Still, I decided to give it a try. The biggest problem I had was this sling I was wearing, which you can see in the image above isn’t like the kind of sling people wear if they break their arm. Because of that sling I couldn’t sit in the reclining chair because it was too wide for me to get comfortable. I couldn’t sleep because I had to keep the sling on, which means my forearm and hand were sticking straight up and the pain and numbness kept waking me up all night long. Early on I was averaging less than four hours of sleep a night, and it’s hard to focus on almost anything when that’s your pattern over a long period of time. I initially considered myself lucky in the fact that I didn’t have much shoulder pain because of the surgery, but it’s funny to find out that your arm and hand can go numb and still be painful.
So, trying to sit down and watch movies was out. Trying to sit down to read a book was out. Sitting at the computer wasn’t as bad as the other two, but I found that hard to do for at least the first two weeks.
What did I do? I walked a lot. Almost all of it in the house, but I walked. Every day up until last week I walked between eight and 14 miles a day. I walked a lot because I couldn’t think of anything else to do.
Even after going to physical therapy and doing some of the exercises at home, which eventually helped relieve some of the stiffness and pain I was having, I found that there were a lot of things I still couldn’t do that involved using my hands. For instance, I couldn’t cook anything, and making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the wrong hand takes longer than you would believe it would. I had to type with my left hand, which made it get tired quickly. I tried using the Dragon voice recognition software, which isn’t bad except it makes a lot of mistakes and doesn’t seem to like how I speak. For the first two weeks I couldn’t even take a shower, and I had problems pulling up my pants. The fact that I’m not embarrassed by that shows that I had apathy towards a whole lot of things.
Truthfully, like most things, I did a lot of research on what people who had shoulder surgery were going through and I picked up a lot of information. I got lucky that I didn’t have the kind of pain everyone else had. I didn’t get lucky in the fact that just because I didn’t have that kind of pain didn’t mean I could do everything I thought I’d be able to with my right hand. As it turns out, walking has nothing to do with your hands, which made it the perfect vehicle for me to consume myself with.
Then came last Thursday. I got to visit my mother in the rehab facility, and even though she was finally getting a little bit of help from the therapists (I addressed the issue in the long video), I wasn’t in a comforted mood when I got home. The only thing I could think of was to start walking, and once I started walking I almost didn’t stop until 11:15 that night. The picture I’m sharing tells you where I was when I finally decided it was time to stop. I actually added a few more steps after that in the process of getting ready to get in bed, but it was an epic day of mileage and activity, and it broke the previous record I had from five years ago.
It also caused me some trouble. I didn’t eat much during the day, and I didn’t drink much either. Since I didn’t plan on walking the entire day, I didn’t come close to eating enough calories. Probably the only smart thing I did was not take my insulin Thursday night. Friday morning I was a mess because I’m still having problems sleeping and I only got 4 ½ hours of sleep.
Because I was tired, I didn’t eat anything before I went to physical therapy. Physical therapy actually went pretty good until it was over. I went over to the area where they would put ice on my shoulder, then I felt dizzy and I thought I was going to faint. I actually had to lay down on one of their beds for about 15 minutes and drink some cold water before I got some relief. Since then, I can’t say that I’ve eaten a proper diet, but at least I’m eating some food and that’s a good step forward.
Something I’ve always known, but haven’t always paid attention to, is that when you don’t have a purpose for doing something, even for living your life, you’re more apt to do something wrong or stupid than do something good. If my mother had been home, I would have had a purpose and I think I would have taken better care of myself. Without her being here and my being alone for the first time in so many years, yet not being able to do a lot of things because of my shoulder being in a sling, I couldn’t think of what my purpose should be.
Truthfully, if it wasn’t for the fact that because of the pandemic of the past year I had learned how to order more than just pizza for food delivery, I’m not sure what I would have done except eat a lot of Ritz crackers with peanut butter. With Mom home I certainly would not have walked 21 miles in one day and eaten less than 1400 calories.
As I write this article, I’m physically starting to feel better, physical therapy’s going well (even though I still can’t lift my arm) and I’m using Dragon to write for me because it’s way too long for me to type. I can actually type a little bit now, but last week my office chair broke, and the chair I’m using isn’t high enough for me to easily get my right arm up onto my desk. Luckily it’s under warranty and I should have a new chair by next week, but once again life proves that it’s always something. Still, I can now at least address all the emails that have backed up on me, and I can even enjoy being motivated to create new written content. Without Mom being here, I think I have found a purpose. It may not save the world, but it makes me feel better.
I told you there would eventually be a point of this article. So let me ask this question; do you feel that you’re addressing your purpose, and if not why not? Something to think about.