I Am The Decider

Some people’s bodies are temples. Mine is a drunken barroom with body parts going to hell like drunk people falling off bar stools.

My toes, feet, knees, wrists, elbows and now my shoulder with a full rotator cuff tear and a biceps tendon tear – all of them are in some degree of disrepair. I feel like an old house with drafty windows and crumbling drywall. I need to get ahead of the destruction and find a way to stop or slow whatever is going on inside my joints.

I hate surgery and the thought of surgery and everything about surgery. It scares me. And no one has anything good to say about rotator cuff surgery. Everyone I’ve talked to – doctors, patients, relatives and friends of people who’ve had the surgery – say it’s extremely painful with a long and difficult rehab. This woman’s blog scared the crap out of me: What To Know Before You Go~~Under The Knife~Shoulder, Rotator Cuff Surgery~Ouch!

A friend suggested that many of these stories could be like the ones we heard while pregnant, of how horrible childbirth was. They might be, but I’d sure like to hear from someone, anyone, who had a good experience with rotator cuff surgery and recovery.

Part of me wants to say forget it. Rotator cuff tears are not life threatening and the worse that could happen is that I lose the use of my shoulder. Guess what? I already can’t use my wrists and elbows the way they were intended so what’s the difference if I can’t use my shoulder? I can’t lift much weight the way it is. I have to be careful how I twist jars open, chop food, use a mouse, type, feed myself, wash my hair and the list goes on and on. So big deal if I become the Gimpy Grandma who can’t lift her arm above her head? I’m still me. I’m still a thinking, feeling, dreaming human being who can find ways other than using my shoulder to express myself.

I realize doctors want to heal. They want to make us feel better. My shoulder guy is a very nice guy, but he said, and I quote, “Lynn, you’re 44 with the shoulder of a 70-year-old…I don’t know what to tell you…I can let your decision go to not do something about your wrists just now (a full fusion of both, eliminating my ability to move them in any direction), but I can’t let this injury go.”

Um, Mr. Doctor? Yeah, the last time I checked I, ME, I was the one in charge of what I do and not do. I am, to use my favorite Bushism, The Decider.

My doctor has no choice in this matter. He’ll have to “let it go” if I decide to let it go. He can choose not to see me as a patient anymore if I don’t take his medical advice, but he doesn’t get to tell me what to do.

Maybe that’s what’s at the heart of what I’m feeling. Like I don’t have a choice. Like everything about my body is being decided for me. Like I’m being talked about in the third person.

I don’t want to be the Bionic Woman just yet. Something tells me it’s not time. I need to sit back and regroup. Collect my thoughts. Investigate. Learn. Most of all, I want to enjoy the anticipation of my grandbaby’s arrival in five weeks. That’s gotten muddled in all this negative surgery talk, all this fear. I get my thoughts tightly wound into a ball that then behaves like a skipped record. Time to lift the needle. Time to turn off the turntable. Time to turn fear into power.

I might be crumbling to pieces like an old brick stoop, my body might not be the temple I desire, but I still am The Decider.

One thought on “I Am The Decider

  1. I understand better than I did before what you’re going through. Don’t let anyone take the decider role away from you. I need to remember this the next time I’m faced with such a decision … and you know I will be.

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