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An Active Life and the Effects of Aging and Surgery

One of our loyal clients, Daryl, shares his thoughts on the importance of an active life, surgical considerations and having a committed Physiotherapist.

The importance of keeping active:

I was lucky enough to be included in the draft to one of the major AFL Clubs as a ‘young bloke’, having grown up in the country spending all my time outdoors and playing football. That active life served me well when I was Conscripted into the Army and sent to Vietnam.

Fast forward a number of busy years, and I remained and still am regularly active. Grandchildren and a volunteering lifestyle keep us busy. However, I was surprised to find as my body aged, despite all the activity I required a couple of ‘corrective surgeries’ for old footy injuries and an aging body. My plan was always to get things ‘fixed’ quickly while I am ‘younger’ and fit . And fortunately, I do not have any major additional health issues currently.

In April I underwent extensive shoulder surgery. A visit to the surgeon, MRI and other tests, and great diagnostics by the talented Lucy allowed me to make an informed decision. I was surprised at the length of time quoted to fully recover the full use of my arm. The surgeon further highlighted that there is not a 100% guarantee of 100% success. A reasonable piece of information to consider.

Why have shoulder surgery: what influences the decision?

For me it was about the pain levels, plus limited lack of (at times) use of my shoulder. Also, my lifestyle is active and involved with various commitments. Plus, I had done intensive Physio/rehab (thank you again, Lucy) that afforded a level of help but not a full recovery. The decision to proceed with the operation was not taken lightly as the recovery time is prolonged even with the best of outcomes. Pain can be a problem if not controlled, plus the need for support post operatively at home and the ability to complete a detailed and tailored rehabilitation program.

The surgical outcome:

The surgery went well. Immediate post op, a fair bit of pain. I had the added problem that most heavy-duty pain relief made me quite sick. Thank goodness for an initiative-taking anaesthetist who persevered, and I was able to control the pain so I could go home.

Depending on age, pain relief and home support I would not recommend rushing home until all that is in place. For me, returning to my home environment was a good step as I moved more, engaged, and rested. All important aspects of healing and recovery. Keeping the wound dry is particularly important, as its bone surgery and considerable risk if it becomes infected.

Rehabilitation started so, so slowly mainly focusing on hand therapy so that there was (limited) use of my shoulder. Dressing proved challenging; however, we had prepared with easy loose clothes, plus advice regarding the easiest way to put clothes on. Pain remained an important aspect to manage during the first week to 10 days.

Frustration, when you are normally active, proved a challenge. So, prepare and have things to occupy your mind.

Rehabilitation at PMPP:

Rehabilitation finally started with Lucy and involved keeping my hand moving. The surgeon had warned that post op instructions must be taken seriously. If not, it could undo all the work, with no way to ‘redo’ the operation in my case. So, do not overdo it in the initial stages. Also, I had to learn patience to make slow steady progress. It cannot be rushed. I found the rehabilitation slow but necessary, with regular assessments by Lucy to check progress and add new levels to my rehab program

This was one of the MOST IMPORTANT aspects post shoulder surgery, that I had not fully realised. The program is targeted to your operation, age etc and monitored closely so as not to cause harm, and very personalised to each client. Between APRIL and DECEMBER there has been constant work to rehabilitate. I am grateful I did not have any other health conditions that impacted my ability to complete a full recovery.

For me, the reintroduction of Pilates was a significant day as I felt real progress happening. It was also good for social interaction, and forward progress. My recovery is almost complete, and I am pain free, and the range of movement in my arm/shoulder has improved dramatically.

What are the takeaways?

  • The getting of ‘wisdom’ that no matter how fit and active we are, our body will age. So, keep active, work with a team of people (PMPP) who are qualified professionals, to obtain your personal best outcome.
  • Take the PAIN RELIEF.
  • Prepare with easy clothes and support at home.
  • If you are considering surgery and it is right for you: do it early before you are too old to make a full recovery.
  • We all want to live our best, active life even as our bodies age.

But most of all THANK YOU LUCY. Cheers, Daryl.

You may find these related PMPP blogs interesting:

Older Persons Advocacy Network: https://opan.org.au

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