Tips and Tricks for Surviving After Shoulder Surgery

I live alone so some of these may not apply to you but most should be helpful. As with anything, follow your doctor’s orders.

It’s been four months since I had my right shoulder repaired due to a SLAP tear from years of volleyball and overhand sports. I read a lot of information online and watched a bunch of videos! Some were helpful but many rambled on and repeated the same information. These are some things I discovered that I didn’t see mentioned anywhere else or at least rarely saw mentioned. Hopefully, you’ll find something helpful.

Pre Surgery Tips:

Buy anything you think you might need. (see suggestions below)

Get your home prepared:

  • Laundry
  • Clean if necessary
  • Food
  • Supplies (see below)
  • Open any jars of food that you might want to use because they are very hard to open with one hand. This goes for both new jars or jars you’ve already opened but might be tight for various reasons. [For example, salsa can dry around the rim and reseal an already opened jar. I struggled with this. ;) ]

Post Surgery Tips:

Sling Tips:

  • Get your sling adjusted and then you can just slide it over your head versus refastening all the straps every time you want to take it off. You really only need to undo the waist strap and lift it over your head. Often times I left the waist strap undone anyway and just used the shoulder strap. That way I didn’t have to do anything to take it off and it took no time. I tucked the waist strap into the area between the pad and the arm cup so it’s out of the way. At night I recommend fastening the waist strap to prevent you from any unintentional movements while you’re sleeping.
  • Your sling serves to not only support your arm but to prevent you from doing stupid things accidentally.
    • After a few days, you’ll gain confidence and leave it off when walking to the kitchen or bathroom. You’ll stumble over something and instinctually move your repaired arm and yell a string of curse words. Be incredibly deliberate with your steps or just don’t risk re-injuring yourself by moving around without your sling on. I was in the kitchen making something simple to microwave when I dropped a fork with my good hand. It bounced off the counter and I instinctually grabbed it out of the air with the hand on my repaired arm. Fortunately, it wasn’t a big movement but it woke me up to what could happen.
  • Ice Machine – “Polar Ice Machine”  – step on one end of the hose to hold it still to help connect the hose joints using only your good hand. (http://amzn.to/2xCvIbz)

Sleeping/Bed: (How to sleep after shoulder surgery)

  • Bed wedge (http://amzn.to/2hiYDgB) – The first few nights I mostly slept using the wedge but worked myself off of it as I grew more comfortable with my arm in a sling. Plus it comes in handy when you’re awake during the day, want to stay in bed and don’t want to lie completely horizontal.
  • Phone/tablet extender attached to your bed or night table with long charge cable. You’ll spend a lot of time in bed and you’ll get sick of trying to hold it or get it to stand upright. This is a hands-free option that allows you to lay anyway you want.
  • Light dimmer switch for bed http://amzn.to/2gA1MHA
    • I put this on the side of my bed so I could easily turn the light off/on or dim it without having to get up. Super handy!
  • 4 pillows (one on each side, 2 for my head)

Showering: (How to shower after shoulder surgery)

  • Liquid soap in a squirt/press bottle (http://amzn.to/2xDyguV)
  • Removable Showerhead (http://amzn.to/2gAehTt)
  • Washing Tips: Lean forward slightly in order to wash your repaired arm and use gravity in your favor.  Put your foot up on the side of the tub while standing and just let your arm hang or rest it against your thigh on the same side of your body. This way you can wash the repaired arm without having to use much muscle strength. Your leg will support your arm.
  • This goes for anything really but if you need to do something that is a bit challenging (shaving, shaving head) then do the hard side first because your good arm will get tired. It’s easier to do the easier side second.

Getting Dressed: (How to get dressed after shoulder surgery)

  • Because I worked from home for a couple weeks I lived in gym shorts and tees, very easy to put on! With your repaired arm held at your side, in the same position as if the sling were on, it’s easy to slide the first sleeve and t-shirt on over that arm and up over your head. Then put your good arm through the other sleeve second.
  • Slip-on shoes (like shoelace-less Converse, Vans, slippers, etc)
  • It’s possible to tie shoes w one hand but it’s hard (look it up on youtube).  I gave it a shot but gave up because it wasn’t something I had to do.
  • Completely fasten your pants with a belt before putting them on. It obviously helps a lot if they are slightly too big so you can pull them over your hips. Completely fasten them, lie down on your bed, and slide them on. Then stand up and tighten the belt. I used one of those D-ring belts that are easy to tighten with one hand once you have them on. (http://amzn.to/2ykZUv6)

Work:

It depends on kind of work you do, obviously, but if you work a desk job then a laptop is much easier to work on because your hands and arms move very little. 

I used a laptop at work and used Microsoft Remote Desktop/Apple ARD to remote into my desktop which was right in front of me. This basically allowed me to use my laptop keyboard for my main system. I preferred it over the other small keyboards I tried but you may not. (You can also get wireless keyboard or mini keyboard if you think it’ll help (jelly comb mini keyboard – http://amzn.to/2hs6nxc)

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