Can’t Cook, or Clean, or Do Laundry

I still can’t cook, or clean, or do laundry. That’s what the surgeon still says, God help me.

It’s been some summer I’ve been having, as full of twists and turns as the classic Wild Mouse ride that almost yanks your head clear off the celery-stalk of your dear little neck. (Or wait, maybe it’s more accurate to call those twists and turns ‘ups and downs’ in honor of all the Big Boy roller coasters out there.)

The story is, I had one of the tendons in my shoulder repaired in mid-June and it’s kind of sad, because even all this way through August I dread the nights for the pain that they bring. When you’re moving around as you do during the day, see, you’re sort of ok, in part because your movements pump the healing blood up into the site, a badly needed thing since, as I understand it, the shoulder doesn’t have much of a blood supply on its own. Most nights, by contrast, I’m so sleep-deprived I keep thinking I’m the parent of a newborn again,

Ah but the mornings! The mornings this summer have been lovely. This is the view from the guest bedroom, a view I relished every morning as I sat sling-bound in my rented recliner chair. fullsizeoutput_5127

So an undeniable upside has been having the time to look out the window at Nature.

A second downside, however, is I can’t near do near enough walking, since walking any real distance makes the pain in my shoulder worse. (Now if I were a NUN, gliding along on the roller skates my sister Nan and I always suspected the nuns in our convent school had hidden under their robes, it probably wouldn’t hurt much at all.)

But the upside there? I’m getting a LOT of reading done.

A third downside is that I can’t blowdry my hair. Oh, I can wash it, sort of, using my one functioning arm. I just CANNOT lift both arms in the way you need to do to blow it dry. And without blowdrying, my hair looks like a stainless steel  scouring pad after months of use when it loses its integrity and just splays out in runaway coils. I shouldn’t complain about that, I know, because now I get to go to this walk-in salon where I can get any one several operators to style and blowdry my hair FOR  me – and really only once did I get a stylist who gave me a definite Phyllis Diller look.


Fourth downside, and I’ll stop here, I promise:

I can’t wear the contact lenses I have relied on for nearly 30 years. I just can’t get them IN, where I need both hands for that operation and I can’t get my dominant hand anywhere near my eye. I’ve never worn glasses in my life until now and frankly I’m not doing so well with the whole progressive lens thing. But the upside here if I’m honest?  What I’m really doing this summer is getting a whole lot of binge-watching in, and God bless the invention of TV!

So here we are…

 I slept poorly last night, natch, but again this morning I woke to a matchless summer dawn.  Below, the view from my office-that-is-an-office-no-more since I’ve left the column-writing game but is instead just an airy upstairs room that anyone at all can relax in. In fact you guys should come by anytime! I have a fridgeful of eats from the Prepared Foods aisle and I can show you my newly mastered trick of tucking in the top sheet on even a king-size bed using just my own little toes.

(Click on the video if it looks askew. It plays right when you do.) 


16 thoughts on “Can’t Cook, or Clean, or Do Laundry

  1. Hi Terry,

    It’s freaky how we got major orthopedic surgery within 1 or 2 weeks of each other this summer. My spinal fusion was on June 25, and I finally got the dr’s okay to drive last Friday. I don’t drive very far incase my back decides to have a spontaneous spasm on me. That in turn, can cause a migraine. Not exactly pleasant chain of events. But like you, I too was unable to cook, clean and do laundry, among other things. I needed a shower stool which actually came in handy because my husband has an artificial right leg which he has to take off when he bathes or showers. I am now finally able to do more around the house but I still have to be careful with the bending and the twisting and lifting. I am not to lift more than 20 pounds where as before, it was 10. It is still awkward for me when I go to the john.

    I am doing physical therapy now for my back 3 times a week until mid September. I had my boss print out a job description for my physical therapist that includes what is expected of me physically so that the PT therapist can work on specific areas to strengthen me and make me more flexible. It’s basically to make me work-ready for my job as much as possible. I frankly didn’t realize how much goes into being a Guest Service Representative, especially on my shift where I have to do everything myself! The people in day time can atleast have the house keepers clean up a room, or fetch some towels for guests, first floor, second floor, no matter! I have been doing 3rd shift for almost 14 years.

    I have my good days where there is “minimal” pain. And my not so good where if I so much as fart, it kills. Night time is hard for me because I have been moving about most of the day so it all catches up to me then. My back does stiffen, and yes, the pain does set in, and not to gently either. I have built up a tolerance to the pain killers that the dr. has given to me, atleast narcotic wise. It no longer makes me drowsy but the pain does go away after a couple of hours of taking the medicine. I have been given the okay to take either extra strength Tylenol or Advil, not together of course, and they both work during the day. At night the pain is hard because, you guest it, I am laying down right where I had my surgery. I do my right and left side for a bit, and sometimes my stomach but that makes my back arch, and that is a no-no.

    Enough of me now. How about you? How are you? It’s a strange feeling having to “relearn” how to do things, isn’t it? We are used to being independent and doing things for ourselves boom! Help!!!!! On the one hand we want to say “I can do it myself!!!” And when we realize we cant, we meekly utter ” Yeah, I do need help here… please” or a my daughter says ” A little help here!” It must be awful for you to have to sleep on your shoulder as well. I honestly can Not imagine!

    Hang in there, Terry! Feel better soon!



    PS – I sent this as a personal response because I didn’t think people wanted to read something like this or think I was trying to One Up on you. I wasn’t and I believe you know that, but I am not sure others would.


  2. Hi, Terry! Must let you know that I have been enjoying ALL of your postings immensely since we reconnected many months ago! Your insights, humor, humility and wit are second to none regardless of the circumstances about which you write. Please know I wish you a complete and “speedier” recovery. Do not lose heart….each day will bring fresh progress to you! Wrapping you in a warm hug, Judy Cole ❤️

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Well it is just so nice to hear from you old friend. This vote of confidence comes at such a good time. You are inspiring me to write more on this blog and about things that are not necessarily Terry-related at all. Bless you!

  3. Terry,
    A lot of insight today in your writing. After having the same operation, it is funny how easy it is to forget the many months of unbelievable challenges. Someday ,you and Patty will also file these experiences away.

    1. Hey Terry. I wonder if you have a moment to help? I am working on the Boston/New England accent for an audio play. (I know, a Brit doing American accents – uh-oh) But would you be able to tell me how you might pronounce the word ‘burn’, ‘intern’, ‘learn’, ‘forever’, ‘clever’, ‘seller’ etc?
      Is there an AH sound with an ER? Thanks

      1. well I’ve been practicing those er and ur words to ask myself how actually say them and they do have the traditional ‘er’ sound, only you hit it gently and kind of hurry over it. It seems to me this is unlike what American southerners so, drawing out all vowel sounds. When it comes to the word ‘intern’ just hit the ‘in’ part pretty hard and let the ern be small. As for forever and clever yup: I say forevah and clevah BUT most of us don’t open our mouths very wide on the ah sound the way the way Ben Affleck and his brother Casey do in this bar scene:

        Matt Damon hits it just right, not surprising since he grew up in Cambridge and remained loyal to the accent. There’s something more studied about Ben’s accent, though he also grew up in Cambridge. It’s clear to me that he was already chasing fame – not like Matt who married a bartender he met on location in Miami and has STAYED happily married with four children ever since.

  4. I have had a “pretty much useless” right shoulder for 6 or 7 years now, and it is funny how you do adapt! If you get one of those styling blow dryers with the brush built right in, a one handed hairdo is perfectly attainable! They seem to market those more to men, but you can usually find one in a WalMart by the regular blow dryers! I didn’t know that about the blood supply in the shoulder, but sometimes I dread sleeping! I wonder if a tens zapper thingy would improve that? Anyhow, I am glad to hear that you are still hanging in there! And what a glorious breeze coming in that window! Looks like a great place to rest and recover to me!!

  5. Terry,
    You made a wise choice to pay attention to the breeze and morning’s glory. Since I always have out of control curly hair I do suggest that you ignore the Dillier-do and try to rest up, as pain and healing can be so tiring! If you recall, I severed the main tendon in my shoulder and had to be rewired. I’ve had two hips and a knee replaced and my husband says I move his compass when I am on our boat. I know about post surgery recovery!
    Know that your sleep will return and the pain will subside at some point. Isn’t it amazing how we can appreciate the little things when we quiet our lives down. You just have to let life happen around you.
    Barbara Potzka

    1. This was such a nice message to receive Barbara – and what a trooper you are to have endured all those fix ups and kept on smiling! (I also love what your husband says about moving the needle on the compass.)
      You have always struck me as a wise person and what you post and in the thoughts we exchanged at Charlie’s birthday party. In particular I find I am cleaning to the wisdom about how tiring pain and recovery are. Hearing that said out loud comforts me so much. It’s also amazing to me that life will just happen around me. All this time I thought I have to try and try and try, even just to get the sun to come up. I’m 69 and I still have so much to learn yikes. 🙂

  6. Hello Terry,
    Sorry to see what life has dealt you. I miss your insight. I hope for good for you out of all this.

    A friend you never met,
    Chris Hanley

  7. Chris I remember you! I’m fine with the shoulder thing. Lucky to have access to great surgical care. It’s only going to hurt until June they say and really it only hurts a little, Before long I’ll be able to actually lift my arm above my head
    Hope this last post didn’t unsettle you. It was meant mostly to be a musing on our culture. Plus “dating” mores changed SO much from the time I was 13 to the time I was 19. Do you remember that decade?
    Thanks for following me old friend and be comforted: I really never write about politics. 🙂

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