As I write this update, I have no control, and no sensation of any kind, in my right arm below the deltoid. I learned today how variable many processes that happen in the operating room can be. Some things differ a lot from one surgery to the next, even when everything is the same – the same doctors, same nurses, same patient, same procedure, same room – except in my case, the side of the body being operated on.
I had my second labral repair and tenodesis this morning, and I should start with saying it probably turned out well. I’ll post an update on the surgery itself with some endoscope images later. What I want to focus on now is the sensations.
In my first surgery, I got very strong sedation, so I didn’t remember entering the operating room, or the few hours after surgery. This time my general anaesthesia was light, and I felt alert very soon after they woke me up. The feeling was totally different, less of a battle of will. I also remember a lot more from the very start of the procedure, of nurses giving me an inhalation tube, and the burning sensation of the i.v. anaesthetic going in.
Last time I had a pretty strong nerve block injection, which cut off feeling in my arm and movement at least in my hand for about 24 hours. This time it feels far more intense than that. Rather it doesn’t feel, far more intensely.
The first time, I could attempt to move and fail- there’s a specific feeling I’m thinking of, like when your leg falls asleep, slightly beyond the ‘pins and needles’, when it becomes paralyzed. For me there’s always been some sensation there, of trying to move and not being able to get up the will. Until now, I didn’t fully appreciate that there is a stage beyond that. This time with the nerve block, it’s hard to describe, but even that feeling of trying was gone. I also have strangely specific sensations, fantasies e.g that my fingers are crossed, that have nothing to do with the actual position of my arm and hand. My hand doesn’t really feel like it’s part of me anymore, and when I bump into things, my reaction is to feel a little annoyed by, rather than protective of it.
It’s not a good feeling, and it makes me want to take back the recommendation in my previous post that the nerve block is a good idea (let me report back again on this once it’s run its course).
It’s strange to complain, given that this paralysis is something I opted for, and is entirely reversible. It’s only very superficially similar to disabilities like spinal cord injuries, which can completely change many peoples lives, not just physically. Those injuries seem to happen disproportionately to brave, strong, loving, adventurous young people. I hope what I’ve written here is not insensitive to the experiences of those folks who have much more fascinating stories.
Check out Small Restless Human, a powerful blog by Alina Garbuzov, a friend of mine from Stanford who had an accident in Yosemite two and a half years ago.