Friday, December 2, 2022

Two Weeks Post Rotator Cuff Surgery when You Deal with Mental Illness

Monday it will be two weeks (it's now Friday) since I had rotator cuff surgery on my dominant hand's shoulder. In some ways it has flown... in others, it has crept. But one thing I don't vacillate about - it's definitely not what I expected.

Though the recovery so far has been nowhere near a picnic, the worry that my anxiety disorder kicked up before the procedure was much worse. I talked to both my doctor and his nurse practitioner about the timeline of recovery. I searched Google and YouTube for tips and tricks to help with the post-surgery period. I questioned friends who had had it done.

Doing all this should have decreased my nervousness, but instead, it made it worse.

I know my friends were trying to be helpful when they told me it was horrible and extremely painful. One account I read online said that the pain for rotator cuff surgery recovery was the 3rd worst pain, after childbirth and a kidney stone. So though I was scared about the pain I would be feeling, I was prepared. 

But my pain hasn't been that bad.

I was told that I would have to sleep in a recliner for the first six weeks. (I am a stomach or side sleeper and have never been able to sleep in a recliner.) The first couple of nights I was taking Percoset to keep the pain at bay and I had no issues sleeping semi-upright. Since then, most nights I've slept at least part of the night in bed and it's been okay.

Another worry-filled item that wasn't as bad as expected.

I got home from the surgery with a horrible sling and pillow that didn't fit right and also didn't hold my arm in place well. At the beginning of my first PT session, my therapist said that I would be wearing it all of the time except when I showered or did exercises. I literally teared up and almost lost it.

However, one of the pieces of advice I got was that I buy a sling that I could use for showers and let dry in between. I quickly found that the cheap one I bought from Amazon held my arm in place much better AND was more comfortable.

So after fighting with the doctor-prescribed sling for the first week, I finally realized my mental health was as important as my shoulder and after doing more research, I decided to take the plunge and use the cheap one. (Also, I knew that I would be much more compliant keeping it on with the comfortable one.)

I expected to get a lecture from my PT today when I came in wearing it. Instead, he said it was fine as long as I wore it all the time.

One more anxiety-filled issue solved.

I could add a lot more (and I might in a future post), but this is the first time I've sat at my desk and typed (another thing I had been worrried about not being able to do) since the surgery. I don't want to push it so, for once, this post won't be super long. 

Overall, though, it's amazing when you sit and analyze how much worse your worry about how horrible something coming up will be than what it ends up being. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

When Something You've Dreamed for Happens

(Note - this isn't a post about a stigma... but it is about gratitude, which is a major part of overcoming all of the stigmas that many of us have to deal with.)

I had planned to write this right after it happened but life got in the way. Now, several days later, I finally have a minute to do so. 

My new husband is a drummer. It's part of his identity, though he might not admit it. He hasn't played in years but still thinks about it a lot.

I can fully understand this because being a musician (guitarist and keyboardist) is part of my identity, even though it's been even longer than him since I last played.

Like so many other things in my life, like learning sign language or becoming a writer, I had given up on ever playing again, especially as part of a team. He hadn't... though he did recognize that it was very unlikely for him to do so again.

When we first started dating and found out that the other had played on worship teams before, there was a slight hope that one day we would play on a team together. This had been a secret dream of mine since I was a teenager and when my first husband wasn't a musician, I resigned myself to knowing it would never happen.

As time passed, it seemed less and less unlikely. We went to a church for a while that had a semi-professional worship team - they were all at an extremely high level. He played on their team once as a percussionist - and wasn't invited back. He found out later that they didn't want someone who couldn't read music - but they never asked him if he could. 

He was so hurt that he didn't fight it and so we were back to thinking it would never happen.

We ended up leaving that church to go to a deaf church. Though the Deaf love music, obviously they don't have a worship team. We factored this into our decision to join that church. We love the pastor and people so much there that we didn't even have to think about it to decide to join... and gave up that dream.

Then, almost exactly a year ago, our pastor shared that he had been talking with a pastor of a hearing church to possibly merge. It took a long time to work everything out, but as a group, we joined that church this past summer.

This was really exciting for my husband and me. The way it would work is that our church would join the hearing church in a joint service once a month where we would have an interpreter and the other three weeks, we met separately and had deaf church (all done in sign language).

Our worship team dream wouldn't have worked if the hearing church only had one service - but they have two. So we knew when joining that we could potentially be part of the team for the first service and still go to the deaf church for the second.

Even after a period of several months, we still hadn't been able to "try out" for the team. (I put that in quotes because there's not a formal audition but obviously, they do want to make sure you fit in before becoming a permanent team member.)

Finally, it happened. Well, at least it happened for my husband. Due to my upcoming rotator cuff surgery, I knew it would be months before I could even think about trying to play again.

Early last week my husband got an email that they wanted him to come to practice Wednesday night and play this past Sunday.

We both were excited... and nervous. Would he play and get burned again? Each of us knew that we had that same worry but we didn't discuss it. It was enough for him to get to play even once.

Last Sunday morning I was so full of emotions. I have been super stressed about my upcoming surgery and on top of that, I didn't feel well physically. It took everything in me to make it to church that morning (he had to be there early for practice so we took two cars).

I'm so glad I did! Some of those in our deaf church wanted to see him play so they asked that I record it. My heart felt like it was going to burst while I watched him play. I couldn't keep the tears from trickling down my cheeks.

Mixed in with so much joy was also a little sadness. I wanted to be up there with him. I know it'll be a while before I can even possibly play - and there's the chance that they won't need me even then. 

That sadness was a minuscule part of my emotional state though. Mostly I was just so thankful... so very grateful... that at least he was up there, doing what he loved.

I can't leave without being totally transparent, though. It's Wednesday afternoon and he never got an invitation to practice this week. There are soooo many reasons that he hasn't been asked at this point that have nothing to do with them not wanting him as part of the team, that we're trying not to worry. 

Not worrying is extremely difficult to do for me. I'm working on it in therapy (have been for years!) but it's still my typical go-to in situations like these. 

I think in many ways it's worse when someone you love is hurt than when you are. 

No matter what happens with him being asked to continue to play, nothing can take away how I felt last Sunday - full of joy and hope and a big reminder that even when you've given up on a dream, there's always the possibility that it can still happen.

Monday, November 14, 2022


Today is one of those many days I've had lately where I'm full of mixed emotions - and where I possibly got something very wrong.

I'm literally at a conference that I've covered for the last three years (well, it would have been four if not for COVID.) For this conference, I'm "just" a photographer. There are other writers covering each session.

The first year I worked with this media outlet, I knew nothing about working with a newspaper - at least not for something like this. This is one of the biggest events that this media company covers each year - and that first year, I was the only photographer. I didn't slow down for a moment all three days. If I wasn't taking pics, I was culling and editing... and editing again because I second-guessed everything I did then (now I just second-guess about half of my editing. Sigh...)

This year is really different. I was really upset and felt extremely slighted when I was told that I would only be needed for the first day of the conference. I asked about it and was told it was for budgetary reasons and that they would be using staff members to take pics the other two days.

Then I found out that another photographer, one who has been freelancing for them for maybe a year, was asked to work all three days. 

I was so hurt and felt incredibly rejected. 

I'm getting older and I have a lot more physical and mental issues than I did four years ago, when I ran around all over like this newbie is doing now. I recognize this. 

I can't kneel to not get in someone's way when I'm shooting. I have to shoot from the side. 

I can't run up to the balcony to get an overhead shot. (I can make it, but can't "run" anymore). 

For those who understand spoon theory (, I know I only have a  set amount of spoons each day and they vary day by day. I can't use up spoons at the beginning of an all-day shoot because I might not make it to the end of the day.

Even knowing this, it still hurts. It hurts to be replaced, especially when it is while doing something you love and are passionate about. 

But after starting today, I realized a few things that my hurt feelings hadn't let me realize... I may have it all wrong. Instead of being slighted by cutting back on my work, the one in charge may have been giving me this assignment as an honor and as a loyalty thing. 

The newbie could do it all without me - and I know I can't anymore. Right now, as I'm writing, he's kneeling down in front of the front pew to get some pics of the speaker. That's not even a possibility for me now. Add to that, he got a mirrorless camera which means he can shoot with no noise (shutter clicks) or noise (in the pics).  

This media outlet easily could have gotten by without me here. In other words, it's very likely that they gave me this assignment because they like me and my work and not because they "need: me. It's possible they are letting me work when it might been better to cut me out completely and save the money they will be paying me.

I feel a little guilty that I'm here making this much money for this little work. I keep checking the schedule to make sure I'm not missing anything. Instead of trying to get twenty angles of each speaker/performer, I get a few from one or two places and quit. 

I'll admit - there's a part of me that's concerned that if I don't run around and try to make sure I have much better pics than him, he'll edge me out completely. However, that could happen even if I bust my butt today. I choose to get good pics and leave it at that. God will have to take care of getting assignments in the future.

Anyway, I'm writing all this to say that maybe it wasn't that the person doing the assignments was being mean... but just the opposite. She might have actually given me day one because she respects me instead of taking away days two and three because she doesn't. 

I don't know if it makes sense, but it's a game-changer in my head. 

Sometimes it's all a matter of perspective...

(Also, I realized that the newbie could potentially be doing this for free - for the experience. I did similar things when I started out. The thing is, I don't know and maybe I don't need to know. I just need to do my best and let the rest work out.)