Saturday, September 8, 2012

One Year Post-Op

It's crazy to think that a year has gone by since then. It was something I had wanted for a long, long time and the time had come. My family had opposed it for so long that, for a while, I was resigned to the fact that life would just be this way forever. People had asked me why I didn't just undergo surgery myself. At the time, it just didn't feel right to go through that without their blessing and support.

Now, I know I couldn't have gone through surgery and recovery without their help. I couldn't do the dishes or cook for a month. Getting undressed/dressed was pretty difficult and in the beginning, pretty painful even with meds. It felt pretty humiliating to need help getting dressed, and I did for the first 3 weeks. It took half an hour just to change into a woven button-up shirt for my interview, and some very cautious squirming to pull my dress pants up. Had I been on my own, I would have been pretty miserable. So, it's good that I waited. It's also good that I was more mature, because now I'm much more cautious when I work out. 

I was lucky in that there was no severe damage to my shoulder (torn glenoid labrum aside), or that it was just my left shoulder and not, say, my leg. I could still walk, sit up, sit down, control my bowel movements, etc. Some people are not so lucky. 

Physical therapy was hard, but my PT was very good and very funny. The strength-building exercises were the easiest. I didn't think it would be so easy, but that's the wonders of arthroscopic surgery. All I have left in my shoulder are two 1cm long scars that can pass as a birthmark. The stretching hurt the most. My surgeon basically shortened my ligaments. Shoulder abduction was the second-to-last thing to return. The last motion I regained was the ability to reach back and  touch my shoulder blades. 

My range of motion is back now. Probably around 98% of what it used to be, pre-injury. I celebrated by doing some very cautious squats and dead lifts. Yes, they primarily work on the legs, but I wanted to make sure my shoulder was really okay before I tried to do those exercises. I did my research carefully prior to that, to make sure I don't screw up something else.

None of my doctors were a huge influence on me in terms of being pre-med. I wasn't inspired to become a doctor, whether I liked or didn't like the doctor. I thought I should be inspired by these doctors, but after a while, I felt that it seemed silly to idolize people I only met briefly. I spent a lot more time with my PT than with my doctor, for example.

Instead, I gained a lot of other things that make me the person I am today. These experiences have made me tough and resilient and these traits will only grow with time. I have a clear sense of who I am and, outside of the people in Admissions Committees (at this present time), I'm not concerned with how other people see me. I'm also more compassionate and more understanding of people who are going through a recovery process. I can look at someone and say, "Yeah, I know it sucks. I went through the same thing." Or, "I went through something different, and maybe not as bad as what you're going through, but I know the feeling." These are the qualities that motivate me to push forward.

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