Surviving Shoulder Surgery: Preparation

In December of last year, I hurt my shoulder. I am not one to run to the doctor quickly when something hurts so I did not give it a second thought. The issue was that the pain did not go away. My mom got sick, and I got busy Tending to her and with the appearance of COVID-19, my shoulder went into the back burner.

At the beginning of May, I had a routine appointment with my primary doctor and mentioned to her my shoulder pain and she referred me to an orthopedist. I decided it was time to address that annoying pain that I have had for six months. Long story short, they found out that I had a torn rotator cuff, arthritis and bone spurs in my shoulder and that the only solution was surgery. So as a birthday present I gave myself a new shoulder.

I had decided to do a lot of research on this surgery. A lot of the things I saw and learn made me decide that I was going to give back what I received. A lot of people made video journals of their journey through the surgery, which helped me a lot into preparing for what was to come. I had promised myself to do that, but videos are not my thing; therefore, I’m going to pay it forward in the only way I know writing. I am doing this by using one of the tools I’ve had to incorporate, since it’s harder to type with just one hand, especially when it’s not your dominant hand: Dictate on Word.  Don’t worry I will do my best to check for typos. But excuse me ahead of time for any mistakes.



I think the most important thing is to prepare before the surgery. This was my first surgery ever, so I had a lot of questions on how things were going to play out. Now I do recommend for anyone to go on YouTube and look at all the videos there in terms of rotator cuff surgery. I will share a lot of what I learned through the videos and lot of my personal experience.


As soon as they tell you that you are going to have surgery, please call your insurance company. One of the things I learned through this process, even though I’ve been working with insurance companies for many years is that it is never too early to call your insurance for clarification of what are the requirements for your surgery. Your doctor’s office is going to call the insurance company, but do not rely on that. At the end of the day it is you who will have to pay for any mistakes, and I mean money.

One of the issues for me was, my insurance company only required me to notify them three days in advance of the surgery. However, there was an issue with the location of where the surgery was going to take place. It took six weeks to get that sorted out. If I had not started the research as soon as I heard that I was going to have surgery, my surgery would have been postponed probably by two months. Even starting early, the surgery ended up being moved to a different location and different date than originally scheduled.

There was a lot of negotiation between the insurance, the provider’s office and the facility and I had to be involved in all of that.

The other issue I faced was confusion on the benefits. I had a copay.  The doctor’s office thought it was due to them. The facility said it was due to them. During my pre-op appointment, I paid the copay to the doctor thinking that it was due to the doctor. So, when the facility called me to say that I owed them money, I was confused. I had to call the insurance company and had them with me on the phone to clarify who was the money owed to. At the end of the day, yes it was to the facility, but now I had to chase the doctor’s office for a refund. I must clarify my doctor’s office was great and they processed the refund really quick.  But at some point, I had less twice less money because I had to pay that copay twice until things were sorted out.

Home Preparation

It may sound crazy, but the first thing I did was try to do everything I do on a regular basis without the arm that was going to be operated on. Part of the reason I did that, is because I had to identify what things I was going to need to make my life easier once the surgery happened. Especially because I was going to be on a sling for a month. I was going to have no use of that arm for a while. Trust me, no amount of practice is enough, even if people look at you crazy you are the one who’s going to have to deal with it

For example, I realized that I would not be able to cut anything. I am right-handed and that’s the arm that was going to be operated on. I was not going to risk cutting myself by trying to cut something with my left hand. It proved to be exceedingly difficult.  I could not even butter bread with my left hand because it was hard to take it out of the tub. I decided to buy squeezable butter and that was the best thing ever.

 After that I also bought everything for personal hygiene in pumps:

  • hand soap
  • body wash
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • toothpaste dispenser where you can put your toothpaste on the wall just put the toothbrush underneath it and it will dispense it all of it very worth it.
  • Spray deodorant
  • Wipes-the first two days you can’t shower and in other days you just want to make sure you’re clean after using the bathroom.


I work from home. I knew that I was going to return to work before I was off the sling and have my arm operational. Therefore, I had to do some practice and adjustments too to make that work.

  • Cordless mouse – I have the advantage that I have taught my left hand to use the mouse years ago but. With this gadget my life has been easier.
  • Keyboard- Through practice I understood that my keyboard was going to be an issue. Typing numbers was going to be challenging when it is on the right side of the keyboard. I was not going to buy a full keyboard for just a month. I did buy a numbers pad that I could locate on the left-hand side

Those things arrived weeks before the surgery. I was able to test their effect effectiveness into what I was trying to do and work perfectly fine.

For the first week, I was going to have someone with me all the time.  At some point I knew I was going to be on my own. I bought a little plastic cabinet with three drawers just took put in the clothes that I was going to wear during this time. Again, this may sound crazy. It has really proven to be a good decision.


Talking about clothes one of the things I learned from the videos was that you should get tops 2 size bigger than your normal size. That may sound like an exaggeration, but it is not. Although you do take the sling off to put your clothes on, since you can’t lift your arm, not just because you’re not supposed to but you literally can’t, it is hard once you get up the one sleeve to put the shirt over your head. It really hurts a lot.

Now post-surgery I’m not able to use any of my regular clothes because they won’t go through my head without hurting my shoulder. So, I’m glad I took that advice. I have a lot of sleeveless shirts, to sleep, for day use, even to go out wherever I need to go, all of them are at least one size bigger and that has made my life so much easier.

Also, pants, no buttons, no zippers just something that you can slip up and keep on walking.

Shoes have not been an issue I’ve been able to put socks and tennis shoes and sandals on without trouble.

Ladies if you have long hair, it’s going to be problematic. If there’s one thing I can’t do, is put my hair on a ponytail or a bun. I do need someone to prop my hair up every day. I can’t do that by myself and I have not found a solution.

Sleeping Arrangements

Most people on the videos that I saw bought a recliner. For the most part you’re going to be uncomfortable sleeping flat on a bed for the first a few weeks. I didn’t go with the reclining option because I have an adjustable bed and that has worked perfectly fine. Now if you don’t have either and even if you do have any of these options, you’re going to need a lot of pillows to prop yourself up, to prop your arm up during the day and at night . I have one pillow for my office to put my arm on, while I’m working. I have four pillows on my bed. Pillows are going to be your best friend during the post-surgery time.

I think I have covered everything I did too prepare for this surgery. If I remember something else, I will add it in one of the next posts, but for now I think I gave you most of the things I did prior to the surgery. The next time, I will give you the information on what I did and what happened the day off the surgery.

Be blessed!

Helping others in the midst of our troubles

In conversations with fellow believers I’ve heard way too often” I’m too messed up to help others with their mess”. I admit that I used to belong to this school of thought up to very recent. Ironically the other common denominator was the passionate desire of these women to serve God and others.

The enemy has done a good job pointing out each one of our mistakes to paralyze us from our destiny. We have the tendency to feel unworthy and inadequate to help others because of our life is upside down. Then we come up with the incorrect believe that as we become “perfect” or as close to it, we can then demonstrate the things that God has done in our lives and then be able to be an example. Who hired us for the God job?  God doesn’t need us to ensure his image. He is who he is and he does what he does.

Our journey lasts a lifetime and the reality is that “THE DAY” of perfection is not scheduled on earth, but in heaven. So what do we do with that?

  •  Be real -Let’s be honest with ourselves. Why are we trying to become holier that thou to feel worthy to assist others in pain. When we accepted Christ and started our recovery journey; who were those who we would be more inclined to listen to. Those who has situations or had been in situations similar to ours; who were strongly trusting God to see them through. We don’t do well with those who we don’t relate to.
  •  Share – Yes, if you have overcome some of your issues you can witness to those still in the struggle. My point is that not having arrived is not a requirement to extend to someone who is just starting the journey, of course maintaining awareness of providing support without affecting our own recovery. As it says in Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
  •  Acknowledge God– Let’s say you’ve only been working on your issues for six months. It would be unreal (if you’re really honestly working in your issues) that you have not done any progress. Everything you have attempted, either if it has been successful or it has failed; its part of your walk and God has placed those blessings or obstacles to promote your growth.

 You may be surprise how much sharing even your failures can enlighten someone else. Remember that  those small or big step God has used to guide you through your healing. 1 Peter 4:10 says ,”Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms”  The scripture says we should serve others with our God-given gifts not with our perfection skills.

Food for thought

Reign over me

Today I watched this movie with Adam Sandler. I like his movies as he tends to be funny; however this movie is far from funny. This is the story of two men with very unhappy lives for different reasons. One, Adam Sandler’s character has turned to total isolation and denial after losing his whole family during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The other character played by Don Cheadle is a man who has a career, a family but it’s unhappy because he had lost his identity.

The thing that captured my attention about this movie was a scene where Charlie (Adam Sandler) is talking to a counselor and she tells him that until he tells his story nothing is going to change. He decides to open up, not to the counselor, but to his friend and although things got rough for a minute, that was the turning point of things getting better.

It made me think how many times out of shame and guilt we don’t talk about those dark areas in our lives. We’re afraid of being judged and think that some things are better unsaid. I don’t advocate for telling everything to just anybody, but we should always have someone in our lives who is safe for us to share our pain.

Sometimes we think that we should just tell God and things are going to go away, but God says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”(James 5:16) So the plan was all along to bring the light into our darkness by sharing our pain…that’s the path to healing.

Food for thought

PS. Watch the movie, it has some language, but not to the extreme. It’s a very moving story.


Some feelings can be lights in a dashboard alerting us of a need that needs satisfying.  The way we deal with them could determine our behaviors and finally our outcomes.  There’s an acronym that I learned, not mastered yet but working on it. H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. Just like the word halt, when any of these are present you need to stop, assess and respond to the appropriate need to avoid these feelings from affecting your mood and your surroundings.  These feelings can distort your reality, affect your perception and potentially drive you to actions that otherwise you would not have taken and that could be regrettable.


Issue: My mother says that my father was a very pleasant person unless he was hungry, I have excused myself saying that it’s an inherited trait. That’s an honest copout. If you’re hungry, instead of being grumpy…eat! Hunger can cause our mood to change. Our blood sugar gets low and the body is sending a signal to the brain that it needs something. Hunger is merely a red light going off on your dashboard requesting your attention that something needs to be done.

Physical hunger is not the only one that can affect us. Spiritual hunger is just as detrimental. When our spirit is hungry from the word of God, we lack wisdom and connection with the Holy Spirit to make the right decisions for our lives. In John 6:35 Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”

Suggestion: Eat! I know it sounds simple, but sometimes we’re so caught into meetings or errands that we forget to eat before we know it  we’re starving. It is good to always have something available, like a fruit, a trail mix packet or a nutritional bar. At least it will get you through until you can actually have a meal.

On the spiritual side, start feeding yourself with the Word of God. Sometimes you don’t know where to start with some worship music, its usually the quickest way to get your mindset connected to then dive into prayer and bible study. “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.(Luke 4:4)


Issue:This one is simple to relate how it can affect our mood. Something makes us angry and we do, say things we later regret. Anger is a powerful emotion that we need to learn to identify and channel appropriately. Remember when we are angry, the emotion is not affecting anyone else but us. Consider Job 18:4 “You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, is the earth to be abandoned for your sake? Or must the rocks be moved from their place?”  It doesn’t mean ignore your anger, but do consider the times that you are making mountain out of molehills. Are you really angry because of what happened or is there a deeper issue?

Everyone expresses their anger in a different way, but ignoring the irritant or not handling the situation is never the answer.

Suggestion: For some people it’s a timeout. Removing yourself from the situation can help you calm and think things rationally. For some people they need to talk things out. Having an accountability person in your life that can listen without interruptions, but that can give you some wise insight once you’ve vented can be a good source to work through these feelings. For others writing your feelings down allows you the opportunity to see things in perspective. Process your anger before acting on it. “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil” Psalm 37:8


Issue:The feeling of loneliness can drive us to unwise decisions. For people with addictions it can be a trigger back to their vices. The problem is that when people think of addictions they only think of substance abuse and there are way many addictions out there untreated due to this misconception. Any behavior that affects your appropriate functioning and that is having harmful consequences is a potential addiction. The so called shopping therapy, reading books for hours on end trying to hide from the world, overeating, excessive use of the internet, television, pornography, video games, unhealthy relationships (and I’m not just saying couple relationships, even some friendships can be part of an addictive relationship); these are just some example of thing that we can engage due to loneliness that will end up.

Suggestion: Keep accountability, having someone in your life that knows that you are struggling with these issues can help you sort your feelings before you act on them. Having healthy relationships can help you feel less alone.God never intended for us to do life alone. Life, although very individual, its still a group effort.  “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”Exodus 18:18 Filling your life with the Word of God will fill the emptiness that you may be feeling. Last but not least is service. When you feel alone you are focusing on yourself, executing acts of service not only can give you a sense of purpose, but can expose you to many fulfilling experiences.


Issue:This is another feeling that I consider to be a red light in your dashboard. Especially in our current lifestyle where we believe to be supermen and superwomen without capes, we can be under the impression and the pressure of all these life demands that can be exhausting. The reality is that being tired affects the way we process information and can cause us to make mistakes and erroneous decisions. Out of exhaustion you can give in into that thing, talking to a person or attending a place that you know its not the best for you and that could have negative results in your life.

These emotions are born in us. If you look at babies, aren’t those the reasons why they cry? Think about it, hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Abraham Maslow developed a theory in psychology based or human hierarchy of needs. His long theory can be summarized by saying that unless you meet your basic needs you can’t achieve higher levels and execute appropriately other functions.

Suggestion: Rest! You need to be honest with yourself, assess your priorities. Yes there are dishes to clean and clothes to fold, but if you’re tired you are good to nobody including yourself. Naps are an option. Look at your load and delegate or find creative ways to make your life easier. Flush the superman/woman down the drain right now, its not doing anybody any good. Those around you will enjoy you better with paper plates than screaming because of the load of dishes. Finally enjoy the refreshing rest that only He can give, by spending some time with your Savior. “The LORD replied, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”Exodus 33:14