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My Left Shoulder

I apologize for the fact that I’m late in delivering this new post.   That is, if anyone even noticed that  I’m a few days past my deadline.  Five to be exact, if you happen to mark your calendar.  Which I highly doubt.  But that’s okay.  I don’t mind my usual timeliness being taken for granted.

In case you’re interested, I do have a good excuse.  No, it’s not the dog ate my homework, or in this case, my essay.  It’s better than that.

One week ago I had an encounter with an orthopedic surgeon.  And while I was under, and totally helpless, he performed a total replacement of my left shoulder.

“OMG,” I hear you gasp.  But stay calm.  It’s not as dire as it sounds.  Though not as common as rotator cuff repair, I believe a shoulder replacement is actually less stressful.  Imagine a hip replacement closer to your neck.  (Incidentally, if I might brag, my rotator cuff is in pristine condition, and apparently years younger than the rest of the left shoulder anatomy.)

The need for this particular fine tuning of my bones and cartilage was not a sudden event.  Rather, it was a gradual erosion over several years of my ability to use my left arm.

By the way, did I happen to mention that I was part of the 10% of Americans?  Before you hit me up for a loan, let me be clear that I am not referring to my bank account, but  to the fact that I’m left-handed.  So it figures that all the wear and tear would be on the left side, while the right hand has just been along for the ride.

And what was the source of this physical abuse? I’d like to say it was extreme tennis, or my early career as a discus thrower, but those would clearly be alternative facts.  The simple, unglamorous truth is osteoarthritis.  I have a left shoulder that has experienced many more birthdays than the rest of me!

Little things that I had always taken for granted were becoming stressful.  For example, hooking my bra was now a feat equal to competitive arm wrestling. And I was no longer able to sleep on my left side, which put me directly into the line of fire of the dissonant midnight serenade of my bed partner.

I had to quit golf this winter, which may actually qualify as a disguised blessing.  My computer mouse has been resting on the other side of the keyboard for months now.  And I became expert at the one-handed shampoo.

But I stoically perservered, trying to delay the inevitable.  Although I must admit that it was growing tiresome seeking out rest rooms where the toilet paper holder was located on the right.  And at times, even a little dangerous if the search took too long.

However, we all have our tipping points.  And mine came the morning I discovered the very inconvenient truth that I could no longer painlessly raise my left arm high enough to readily apply my eye makeup!

Call me vain, but could I really risk leaving the house with clumped eyelashes? Or eyeliner that no longer went on smoothly, but looked like a road in desperate need of repair?  Time to go under the knife.

I understand that the surgery went very well, but what do I know? I was fast asleep.  The big shocker upon awakening was that it felt like my entire left arm was missing.  For an instance, I panicked.  Had the surgeon done the repeal, but forgot to replace?  Turns out I was merely feeling, or not feeling, the effects of a nerve blocker.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the details.  (Actually, I’d love to bore you, but it’s too much trouble.   I can only type with one finger.)

I’m home now, recuperating, and actually feeling pretty good.  I’m stuck indoors for a while, but keeping quite busy.  Between icing my shoulder and doing my exercises, I hardly have time to go to the bathroom.  Which still requires that the toilet paper be on the right side.  At least for now.

And,  I’m now a card-carrying member of the spare parts club.  I was actually given a small document to carry in my wallet.  This is in the event that my new metal and plastic shoulder set off any airport security alarms.  Hopefully, it will assure the TSA workers that I have no intention of imploding.

I have every expectation of a complete recovery and fully restored range of motion of my left arm.  I look forward to resuming golf and perfectly applied eye makeup.  And returning the computer mouse back to its rightful place on the left side of the keyboard as I once again type future essays on time with two hands.

By | 2017-07-27T17:06:16+00:00 July 20th, 2017|Categories: Aging, Anatomy, Doctors, Health|19 Comments

About the Author:

Born and raised in New York City, Susan currently splits her time between Florida and Connecticut. She lives with her husband, and the world’s cutest dog, Sam, a rough-coat Russell Terrier. Susan gives her audiences a sideways view of life on a range of relatable topics. Whether skewering marriage, growing older, fashion, the media, politics, or money matters, her light touch keeps people laughing – and thinking.


  1. Eleanor Ripp July 20, 2017 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Get well soon.

    Your fellow left-handed friend,

    • Susan Goldfein August 17, 2017 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      Yay lefties!

  2. marilyn tulgan July 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Mend quickl7y and fully

  3. Sheila Marks July 20, 2017 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    Hope you heal quickly!

  4. Patricia Walker July 20, 2017 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Feel better. Getting older not for sissies, my mom used to say. She was about 90 at the time, so she should know.
    You ain’t that far into this old age event yet.

    • Susan Goldfein August 17, 2017 at 3:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Pat – Thanks for writing. Not quite 90 yet, but I’m hoping to get there with not too many spare parts.

  5. Susan Gold July 20, 2017 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Hi Susan

    Everything worthwhile requires a little re-arranging and sacrifice. I wish you all the best on your healing journey. Your stories make me smile and laugh out loud and for that I am most grateful.Mahatma Gandhi says it all, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you to live forever.”
    With peace, light and gratitude,

  6. Carol Makofsky July 20, 2017 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    I wish you a speedy and complete recovery. Thanks for sharing this ordeal with your usual great humor. Now you can become a model for the latest “cold shoulder” blouses!

  7. Linda Kiess (fellow lefty) July 20, 2017 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    So sorry to hear about your recent surgery – sure hope you’re fully recovered very soon.

  8. Betsy Freedman July 20, 2017 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Feel good soon and thanks for another enjoyable article. Enjoy the rest of the summer.

    Betsy Freedman

  9. Leslie in Oregon July 20, 2017 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Congratulations on having completed the surgery, and best wishes for the least difficult recovery possible. Are you a swimmer?

  10. Jim July 20, 2017 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Speedy recovery !
    ????????‍♂️… you don’t have to wave back…

  11. Ronni July 20, 2017 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    Sorry you had to go through this. But at least you got an essay out of it 🙂 Wishing you two-handed typing soon.

  12. Joyce July 21, 2017 at 12:12 am - Reply

    Wishing you a healthy recovery….always enjoy your writing including How Old am I in Dog Years…( would underline title but just launching into the techie age) ….saw you at the Delray library few years ago…wishing you all the best and many years of beautifully applied make-up! Joyce

  13. ail July 22, 2017 at 5:48 am - Reply

    wow – I’m so surprised! I too am a 10%er, but never experienced even a twine in my left shoulder. Something to look forward to?
    Where did you have this done?

    Please have a speed recovery so you can use a fork at our next dinner!

    Feel good…..

  14. Judy Czubati October 24, 2017 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    Wishing you a speedy recovery. (Bras are highly overrated, anyhow!)

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