Mad Like Alyce

Tips and lessons from shoulder surgery

Hi Friends! It’s been FOREVER since I last wrote… over a month! (or just at a month?). I lose track. Here is what has been going on. I had surgery to repair my shoulder capsule (labrum) on October 17 and had a full 3 weeks off work, and have spent the past 3+ weeks getting re-adjusted to working the 8-5 in a sling. Of all of my surgeries (I’ve had a few, you can read about all of my arm surgeries here),  this actually tops the charts for pain, tying for first with my tonsillectomy at at 24. **Shudders**

So, after 6 weeks, I finally have the ability to stick my hand out of the sling far enough to type AND have the energy after a week of work to write again! I’ve enjoyed being a lazy pile as I conserve my energy for the necessary tasks, but have also gotten to be involved in some pretty cool things, even with my throttle scaled back. It’s time I share some of my key tips and tricks that could help anyone who may also be facing a shoulder surgery.

10+ Things to Know About Shoulder Surgery: Fun Facts and Lessons Learned

1. This is going to hurt. Everything in your shoulder is going to hurt… badly. To get inside the joint, they actually fill the joint with saline to almost dislocate it, which allows them to get their tools in. The downside is that all of your shoulder structures will feel the effects, not just the surgical site. Then, there is the fact that they have drilled 5 metal anchors into the bones… which doesn’t exactly tickle.

2. GET THE PAIN PUMP! Seriously, don’t be a hero. When you get shoulder surgery, they give you the option to have a nerve block pain pump inserted into your neck to help control pain. This is essentially a small osmotic pump that hangs in a bag around your neck and has a tube that is inserted into your neck (yeesh) that continually numbs the nerves to your shoulder for 2-3ish days. I’m blown away that some people don’t want it, and I think they probably regretted it. Pulling it out at home when the pump is empty is awkward and gross, but doesn’t hurt, or really feel like anything at all. Its just nasty to think about is all. I recommend having someone you trust help. Damir was super sweet, and kept giving me kisses on the forehead as he took care of it (while I tried my hardest not to ugly cry from anxiety). It was adorable, if, you know, he hadn’t just pulled a tube out of my neck, you forget the ugly crying part, and ignore the fact that anyone who hasn’t showered in nearly 4 days is hardly “adorable.”

3. Showering. After about 4 days you are allowed to take your first shower and remove the dressing. Honest recommendation… have someone take the shower with you. If you have a significant other or family member, just put any reservations aside and both just jump right in…. its going to be so much easier. If it is a family member, maybe they could stand outside with the knowledge that they might get a bit wet by reaching in to hand you things… but the truth is you really cant do anything just yet. If someone can squeeze shampoo into your hand, you can wash your own hair with the opposite hand (even with long hair!) but turning and twisting to wash yourself is painful and difficult, as essentially half of your body is completely out of reach. I did manage to shave on my own, but didn’t bother trying to get into my armpit on that side for at least another couple of days with help.

4. Hair care. If you have long hair, this gets fun. Invest in a lot of claw clips so you can have them handy. By twisting your hair up as if you were going to wrap a bun, laying the twisted hair forward over your face towards your nose (leaning down) and quickly clipping it into a half pony of sorts, you can still get your hair up. This will really help keep a handle on the knots. Because of the sling and my inability to properly brush my hair on the right side, I ended up with some pretty epic snarls after the first few days. My mom lovingly brushed these massive rats nests out of my hair, and Damir has helped me tackle a few since.

tangled hairNot super amused with my hairstyling abilities on day 2…

5. Bras. I would have been content to sit at home and do nothing for the first two weeks, but it is very important to start physical therapy asap, between 5-10 days after surgery. As a busty gal, this posed a bit of a problem… it was SUPER obvious that I wasn’t wearing a bra which makes me very uncomfortable. I just wasn’t sure how to wear my current bras, as getting it on was a chore, as was removing it. I wanted something I could wear comfortably all day and night without hardly noticing, and something I could get on one handed. Enter True and Co. I had seen ads for awhile, and took the plunge for two of their True Body Lift Scoop neck bras… and I am hooked. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about a bra without wires… would it be enough to support a 36DDD? Yes. And they are the most comfortable bra I have ever worn. I can literally sleep in them, which I did often. Once they went on, they didn’t come off again until my next shower since it was too painful to keep changing clothes.

6. Leggings. I lived in LulaRoe leggings for the entire 3 weeks I was off work, specifically their Halloween leggings… because… why wouldn’t I? This made it possible to easily change, use the bathroom, take spontaneous naps, etc. while using one hand. I also invested in a few pairs of solid colored leggings and longer tops/dresses that I could wear to work once I went back, paired with zippered boots to make dressing as easy as possible. For men, sweatpants would be the best bet.

Lularoe Frankenstien leggingsMeet Frankie! And BatMug.

7. Toilet Paper. Find a place to put the TP roll you can reach. Ours is back on the wall on the right side of the toilet… this just doesn’t work when the sling is on your right arm. We installed a second TP holder on the wall right in front of the toilet to make things easier.

8. Coats. While the three weeks I was out of work were pleasantly in the 50s or even 60s, things got quite cold in my first week back, with a chilly 17 degrees. Wearing a coat would require taking off the sling, putting on the coat, putting the sling back on, then repeating the process to take it off at work. To make things easier, I bought a poncho coat. I never saw why you would wear a poncho when you had a perfectly fine coat, but I certainly appreciate it now! I can just flop it on over the sling and be ready to go in seconds.

9. Pets. If you have a dog, you may need to make some adjustments and get help, depending on the dog of course. I have a 50 lb pit bull who refuses to sleep anywhere except sandwiched between Damir and me on the bed. This would place her directly on my surgical side, and just wasn’t going to work. Damir slept on the couch for the first 2 weeks (he didn’t mind) and Mystic wasn’t allowed to come back into the bedroom at night either… she was suuuuper pissy about it. I couldn’t hold her, sleep with her, cuddle with or play with her. She started giving me the cold shoulder after the first day, and she even piddled on the carpet in protest. Sigh. We are getting back to being snuggle buddies again now, so all is forgiven.

pitbull snugglesShe sleeps with her tongue out quite often!

Damir is still walking her though, because walking her with one arm is asking for disaster. She is good on the leash, but if there is another dog off leash, I wouldn’t be able to control the situation, and could easily hurt myself. Something to consider! I probably could start walking her soon, and if I had to, walk her from 3 weeks on, but that would still be taking an unnecessary chance.

10. Sleeping. Sleep is a disaster for the first few days. I am a side sleeper, and that was absolutely not possible. Plus, sleeping in a sling is painful! I would sometimes have the ice on my shoulder, and a heat pad under my low back/mid back to keep cramping at bay. After the first 2 weeks, Damir started sleeping in the bed with me again, but we switched sides so that my arm would not be in the center of the bed, keeping it safer from him and our snuggle bug Mystic. After 2 weeks, I started removing the top strap while sleeping to reduce the impact on my neck.

11. Sling induced pain. OMG, I am used to getting a chiropractic adjustment weekly… and I was completely unable to do so until nearly at 4 weeks post surgery. Even then, I just did my neck, as it just wasn’t really possibly to do anything else safely. I have been having a higher frequency of migraines, back cramps, poor sleep due to lower back pain, the whole shebang. I often would just lie on the floor with my legs up on the seat of a chair to help everything chill out.

lower back relief poseLying with my legs up for lower back pain relief. Mystic is very concerned.

I also did spring for a massage at 4 weeks, but even that was tough. The therapist was very careful to mostly focus on my neck with gentle stretching and using hot stones to lightly press into the traps on each side, making sure to be extra careful on my injured side. Still, it was a little painful, but mostly because of the stretching, not that I think anything was hurt at the surgical site. Still, I am going to hold off for another few weeks before going back, just to make sure I can really work out some of the kinks that have built up wearing this sling. (Update: since writing this, I did get a massage at 7 weeks, and it went very well! She was just careful around that shoulder and made sure I would tell her if it hurt).

12. Physical Therapy. You have to make sure you do your exercises! It definitely isn’t fun sometimes, but by doing them every day, I have actually exceeded where I should be, and am trending a week ahead in my therapy. Woot! I’m way too competitive with myself. The flip side is that if you don’t, you will never get your range of motion back, AND you could get frozen shoulder, where the whole thing seizes up, and they essentially will have to force you to move it. Its going to be exceptionally painful, and can compromise your overall ability to heal. You are committing to at least a 3-4 month minimum healing journey when you do this surgery… dont let 5-10 minutes a day of exercise sabotage all of the pain, limitations, missed work, and financial investment you are making in yourself!

13. Cooler. USE THE COOLER!!! My nurse said that I could stop using it after the first week or so, but I’m on week 6 and still using it daily! The “cooler” is an ice system with an ice pack that velcros onto your shoulder, then is connected by a hose to a cooler. The cooler pumps ice water through the ice pack to make sure it stays continuously cold. I use this every day after getting home from work, and usually fall asleep on it. I 100% attribute this to my success in rehab so far. When it is iced, it doesn’t hurt so I am more apt to move it, and it helps me fall asleep at night. It also counteracts the inflammation from general activity, work, and physical therapy, making each day easier and keeps me from “guarding” which is holding your shoulder stiff to prevent pain, whether you realize you are doing it or not!

shoulder surgery cooler

14. Return to work. I was actually a bit surprised that my doctor said I would be out for 3-6 weeks, and absolutely no return before 3 weeks. Honestly, he was 100 right, and even though I just work at a desk and have my sling perfectly positioned to type while wearing it, I still kind of wish I would have waited one more week. If I had the savings, I 100% would have done so. Keep in mind, I am sitting all day, could still wear the sling, take breaks, not lift or do anything with either side, and wear icepacks all day (rotating from the freezer, not the cooler). If I had ANY type of job that wasn’t sitting at a desk all day, I would take the full 6 weeks, and highly recommend that for you too. Don’t rush back to work and compromise your healing!

15. Treat yourself! While the first weeks was a bit of a mess of pain and messed up sleep schedules, try to treat yourself to somethings that are fun! I ordered in something to eat when I felt like it and refused to feel guilty. I binged on pumpkin everything with Pumpkin Spice Life cereal, PS coffee creamer, PS pop tarts, PS oreos… basically pumpkin spice overdose. I stayed up until 6 in the morning reading a books on the couch, which is my ultimate level of luxury! I slept in every day, then would enjoy coffee while cruising through all kinds of Netflix shows. It was bliss.

listening to Girl in Space podcastAudio books are also my new guilty pleasure, since holding a book was a bit difficult, but I have still continued listening. I finally signed up for Audible, and have been listening to the Game of Thrones series, but also Girl in Space, which is an awesome audio novel released one chapter at a time as a podcast. The best thing, its free on iTunes and Spotify!

Just remember that you are doing this to improve your overall wellbeing, take time to enjoy your time off, and don’t hesitate to ask for help!

Hello!

Hi! I'm Alyce.
Welcome to my journey towards living a happier and healthier life while living with PTSD and chronic pain... and never letting it keep me from my passion for Halloween, cooking, and way too many DIY projects... all at the same time!

Costume & Makeup Tutorials

Instagram

  • Finally, the last in my “sketched” look (for now). Thieve last few weeks have been absolutely insane, and im still processing. I’m going to have to set aside some time for another look this week, there is something so tranquil about turning yourself into a blank canvas in the most literal sense.
  • Theres nothing quite like painting yourself completely white to make you realize how yellow your teeth are getting. Time to cut back on the coffee! JK, that might actually kill me. #tissuetestfail #needsomewhitestrips #cresttotherescue #notanad #butyoucanpaymeanyway?
  • I sometimes can take well over 200 photos of various looks, just to make sure I get the right one... i don't pretend to be a photographer! Even with so many photos, I will often only post maybe 3-4, which makes me a little sad since I spend so much time on some of these! So here are a few more of my "Migraine" Twenty One Pilots inspired look. I managed to get quite a few shots of this look before adding the tears for the completed migraine look, and I really do love how it looks without any color.
  • "I'm just being dramatic
In fact
I'm only at it again
As an addict with a pen
Who's addicted to the wind
As it blows me back and forth
Mindless, spineless, and pretend
Of course I'll be here again
See you tomorrow
But it's the end of today"
- "Addict with a Pen," Twenty One Pilots
This song is hands down my absolute favorite. I can't decide if it is the lyrics alone, or haunting piano. It was this song that inspired my take on the cover art for their self titled album.
  • "I-I-I I've got a migraine
And my pain will range from up, down, and sideways."
- Twenty One Pilots
Something about the lyrics captures me on so many levels. From the literal chronic pain interpretation, to the deeper meaning of living with mental illness.... this idea hit me as such a powerful vision.
This look was created using @mehronmakeup  water activated paints for the white base and grey and black "sketching". Tears were created by adding food coloring to liquid latex. Wig is the the Long Curly in Silver from @ardawigs.
  • "Am I the only one I know
Waging my wars behind my face and above my throat
Shadows will scream that I'm alone"
-Migraine, Twenty One Pilots

This looks is one I have had planned for quite some time now, and I finally sat down and completed it last night! he inspiration is from the cover artwork for Twenty One Pilots' self titled album (I know these lyrics are not on this album) but my absolute favorite TOP song is, "Addict with a Pen." What is your favorite TOP song?

This look was created using @mehronmakeup  water activated paints for the white base and grey and black "sketching". Tears were created by adding food coloring to liquid latex. The idea for using the latex is from Glam and Gore's "Death Stranding" makeup tutorial, so go and see how Mykie did it! 
As a quick safety note, be VERY careful working this close to your eyes, and make sure to apply vaseline to your lashes to prevent the latex from sticking. Also note, food dyes can temporarily discolor skin, so don't try this before an important event ;)
  • I should be in bed, but instead I'm fighting sleep and fooling around on Photoshop. This is a mirrored version to complete a full face. I have my makeup out and ready for a new look, but have nothing left in the tank today, so here's my last Gwen Dylan... for now ;)
Also, I forget how asymmetrical our faces can be until you flip a photo, or in this case, mirror it. Even just flipping it looked so strange to me!
  • I’m having waaaayyyy to much fun with this one, and it’s just the makeup! I think I might have to start this cosplay this weekend... what’s a good material to use to make a fake shovel blade? I’m a nube when it comes to fabrication, so any and all advice is welcome!
  • You GUYS this might have moved to my favorite makeup of all time. Gwen Dylan, inspired by the cover of iZombie: Dead to the World. I think I might have to make this a full scale cosplay, what do you think?

The zombie half was created using @mehronmakeup water paints. Wig is from @ardawigs (I think it is the Magnum Long Classic in Titanium Blonde). Eyes were photoshopped to match the comic book cover.

@madlikealyce

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