Operation Metal Out

It is exactly one year since the lovely Mr F operated on me to repair my shattered shoulder last week he operated on me again to remove the metal.

A year ago I had no idea that the holiday that we had looked forward to would end so abruptly and consequently I was completely unprepared for the operation. This year was different. George dropped me off at the hospital and I went up to my room to be admitted. I answered 85 nonsense questions; Are you pregnant ( funny), Have you got any implants (yes, that’s what I am having removed) Did you have growth hormone before 1985 (I’m not that short) Are you allergic to bananas (Really?) and so on. I wouldn’t have minded but I answered them a year ago and clearly answers to questions  such as ‘Have you had brain or spinal surgery pre 1992’ won’t have changed.

The lovely Mr F asked me to sign the consent form. ‘ I am hoping that this operation will give you a sea change’, he said. ‘I know it seems unnecessary as I am going through the scar from last time, but I have to make sure I get the correct shoulder’ he said.


The anaethestist came and asked if I wanted a ‘block’ in my arm again. ‘I would have one’, he said. Well, in that case I will have one too. ‘We can let you go home with a block in your arm’. First I had heard that I might be able to go home on the same day – The lovely Mr F and the nurses all told me I would be in for one night.

The pre op nurse bought me a gown and the TED stockings and for some reason known only to her insisted that she put the stockings on for me. ‘I really am capable of putting these stockings on myself’ I told her. ‘Sit down’, she said, ‘You’re too independent’. I sat down while the nurse put the stockings on me and pondered the fact that by later that day I would once again be dependant on others for a bit whilst I battled with the pain and loss of movement of my arm. I was so damn miserable for so many weeks last year, unable to sleep because of the pain, hard to eat with one left hand, washing, dressing, everything such hard work. I was not looking forward to the next couple of weeks. The nurse told me to put the gown on, despite my complaints it was too early. I remembered when Max had his appendix out last year and was put in the gown and tights he turned round to me and said’ Mum, they’ve got me dressed up like a tit for no reason’.

Suddenly the door burst open and in came a theatre nurse with two porters. ‘Lovely Mr F has bumped you up to first on the list’ the theatre nurse said. I thought only I called him that! I asked why they had sent three people to get me when I could walk down. ‘You can’t walk down you might faint’ said the nurse.

I got on the bed and was wheeled into theatre. ‘Hello trouble, the gang’s all here!’ said lovely Mr F. The conversation went on to skiing – Mr F, the anaesthetist and the operating theatre nurse had all just got back from hols and were comparing speeds they had clocked. They asked me where I was skiing when I had my accident. ‘ I was in St Martin de Belleville’, I said. ‘Slight scratch on the back of your hand’, said the anaesthetist.

I continued my story. ‘It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect conditions……..’

‘Wake up, would you like some water?’, a voice said.

And that is how quickly the lovely Mr F removed all this.




To ski, or not to ski, now there’s a question.


September – schools back, the nights are getting shorter, and while there is still some beautiful summer weather it is definitely cooler. It’s normally about now that I start looking for skiing holidays. We generally go at half term ( along with the rest of Surrey) and try a different resort every year. We book self catering, drive across and squeeze 7 days actually skiing in.

My parents, both keen skiers, have also come every year. It has been low key, they stay in the same resort, same week, but often different apartment blocks to give each family a bit of space from the other!

I love looking for skiing holidays, I research the resorts and compare one against the other for snow history, altitude, ambiance and number of runs. Then the fun of looking for an apartment, somewhere close to the lift and shops. Finally I book it and we all start getting excited. The thought of it gets us through the winter and for me the holiday starts when I start googling. In February, just when it feels like winter is never going to end, we escape to the Alps, to the bright blue skies and frosty air, and when we return the days are noticeably longer.

This year, however, we have a problem. I am still not recovered from the last skiing holiday. Amongst other things  I still can’t touch the top of my head, take off a jacket easily or reach the shelves in Sainsburys.

This poses somewhat of a dilemma. Max and Lucy are keen to go skiing, they seem unfazed by the accident I had. As Max has started lower sixth it may not be that many years that he still wants to ski with us.  My parents, whilst not old, are not getting any younger and every year my Dad says ‘ Well, we don’t know if we will be able to ski next year’.

So with these two ticking time bombs, one either end of the spectrum, I feel an enormous emotional pull to go on what I am sure will be another wonderful holiday. Yet, physically and psychologically I don’t know if I can do it. It is one of the FAQ’s ( Frequently Asked Questions) that I still get when people ask about my shoulder. ‘ Do you think you will ski again?’ To begin with, I was certain, yes, definitely, why wouldn’t I? After all, both my mother and my brother  continued to ski after serious injuries. But as time has marched on and my progress has been so slow, with the pain and the limited movement I still have  I have become less and less confident.

This weekend I broached the subject with George. ‘ Do you want to go skiing next year?’

Without hesitation he answered, ‘No, do you?’. I replied, ‘No’.

So that’s settled then.

Isn’t it?

Ambidextrous and all sorts of Physio!

When I first had my accident I had to re-learn how to do a lot of things with my left arm. I learnt to write, put make up on, hang up washing all with my left arm. I was amazed how quickly I could retrain myself to use my left hand and I am now pretty ambidextrous. I use the mouse on the computer in my left hand without even thinking. This week we went to Chinatown and I realised that I was eating with chopsticks with my left hand without even thinking about it. My left hand has really become my dominant hand and I have to remind myself to use my right hand to do things. It is a reversal of how things were; now I am having to relearn how to do things with my right hand.

It is pretty apparent that my range of motion is not improving at all ‘not exactly dramatic’ is what the physio said at this weeks session. That doesn’t mean to say that I am not constantly trying to improve it by using my arm. If I am putting things away in a high kitchen cupboard I will use my left arm to push my right arm up, stretching it. I make myself wash with my right arm even though it is so weak its pathetic. I am still swimming every morning, come rain or shine and getting fitter as a consequence. I have to think about using my right hand in a way that was just natural before. Its tiring using brain cells to think about doing the things that I used to take for granted!

By thinking about using my right arm and making myself do things with it I am hopeful that it will improve in time. At work, I pull doors, try to drink and eat with my right arm. As I am mostly in meetings or at my desk for the majority of the time you wouldn’t spot that I even had an injury. This is great because it means that I am not thinking of my arm all the time but sometimes it has its disadvantages. Last week we had a new Director join the company I work for. He is a very tall guy, probably about 6ft 5″ and German. I went over to shake his hand and he had one of those hand shakes where he literally grabbed my hand and pumped my arm as hard as he could. Unfortunately for both of us he yanked my arm higher than it has been since March 29th and of course I yelped in pain. There was a stunned silence in the room as all those present looked shocked by what had happened, the new Director was mortified and I was embarrassed explaining why I had squealed like a pig.

The odd thing is, since then I have  been able to reach higher 🙂

The operation – an ORIFic day.

So yesterday I  had the operation – an ORIF – Open Reduction Internal Fixation of  my shoulder. Having never had a general anaesthetic before I was amazed how the time seemed to go in a nano second – in fact the operation took over two hours. I am now the proud owner of a plate and ten pins in my shoulder and the lovely Mr F says he is pleased with how the op went. There are a couple of bits of stray bones but he managed to pin the majority back in. I have had IVantibiotics and as I bled after the operation I have got a lot of padding on my arm. My arm is in a sling where I have to keep it for six weeks. Apparently I bled a lot after the original accident which explains all the bruising – my arm is black and swollen and so I have been put on iron tablets as well as codeine and paracetamol. If the pain is unbearable I have been given some tramadol but I am not allowed any NSAIDs as they, along with smoking, are the two things which are proven to impact on bone healing. In addition I have been given lactulose – to counteract the side effects of the codeine and iron! I am allowed to go home and have an appointment in 12 days to have the clips out. IMG_0027 So here’s my x ray now! You can just about see the small piece of bone at the top which he could not get in, but the rest looks pretty good I think?