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Jane K

Pointers to help a right AK undergoing right shoulder repair

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Hi Everyone:

I'm looking for any ideas or pointers that could help me in a upcoming surgery. On January 17th I'm going to have surgery to repair a torn rotatory cuff on my right shoulder. As part of the healing process my shoulder and arm are going to be encased in a rigid type sling 4 to 6 weeks.

As a right leg AK amputee I'm concerned about maneuvering at home when I am not wearing my leg and will be using a wheel chair to get around. The seemingly simple task of moving from a recliner (where I'm told I should expect to spend a lot of time) to a wheel chair. Getting into the tub to use a shower chair? Getting onto the toilet?

My surgeon stressed today the crucial point in keeping my arm protected in its healing. Multiple falls while learning to walk again led to the needed surgery and I really, really, don't want to have to face it ever again.

Thanks all. Hope your New Year is going well.


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Sorry can't really offer any practical help - when my arm and elbow were in plaster following a fall it was a nightmare and I am only a LBK. I found myself having to rely on help a lot, more than I like to. Have you got people around you that will be able to help? Good luck with the surgery and hope that it all goes well.

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I think I'd talk to the OT people Jane, let them know your circumstances, and see if they have any equipment/ideas to help. I am not sure that, generally, healthcare people realize or think about how much we need to use our arms & upper bodies when we are not wearing our limbs ... any injuries or surgery can really complicate things.

Good luck with the surgery. Hope all goes well.

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I agree with Ann on consulting an OT...until I had my amp surgery, I'd never seen much use in the few OT sessions I'd had over the years, but my OT became a wonderful resource when I was trying to figure out how to live on my own one-legged and in a wheelchair. A good OT may be able to point you toward some procedures and equipment to make your recovery time much easier.

As far as the tub/shower business goes, do you have access to a shower stool that overhangs the edge of the tub so that it can also be used as a transfer bench? With that, you can sit down on the outside of the tub and then just swing your legs over into the tub...no stepping up and over, no chance of falling. I used one for my first few years, until I got my water leg. If you have a shower chair that you usually use and like, you might still want to see about renting an over-the-tub bench for your recovery time.

Good luck to you...I know that I have shoulder surgery peering over the horizon at me, and my ortho has said that "when that day comes, it's going to be hell." I hope yours is only "heck!"

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Hi Jane,

Before I start , a little bit about me , When I had my accident I was pretty broken up , the worst being lak amputation , my left hip & shoulder where also messed up which needed treatment at a later date .

Because I was so stupid and having a rough time of it I had to do every thing for myself, ignoring all offers of help even from my loved ones.

Basically I moved out of my home into a rented flat so I could prove to myself that I could cope. (There is a post on hereabout it somewhere) I wasn’t thinking straight at this time.

During this time I was called back into hospital to have my left shoulder fixed and a bone graph onto my left hip.

So there I was on my own , still in a basic arty leg (endolight 4 bar knee) held on by a Tess belt , a left hip that was really sore yet I had to weight bear on it if I wanted to walk , and like you a left arm that was covered in plaster.

What did I learn:-

Cooking and washing up was such a fuss (try drying dishes up one handed) so I went for the microwave meals.

Laundry getting my cloths into the washing machine wasn’t a problem, but pegging them onto a line to dry was almost impossible (didn’t have a tumble dryer) solved this problem by going to the laundrette.

Tying shoe laces, again a non starter wore slip on shoes, or when wearing trainers pulled the laces up tight and tucked them down the sides.

Some button up shirts proved difficult, so I stopped wearing them and stuck to tee shirts,

NOTE when pulling on/off a tee shirt over your head please make sure that you are sitting down. (You will see why when you try it)

When putting on my arty leg, I was very fortunate that the socket was huge at this time and I just put on a stump sock.

I would always put my arty leg on sitting on the floor, simply pull it on, I would have to throw the long end of the belt round my waist, and then lay flat on the floor using my weight to hold the belt in position whilst I used my good hand to fasten it tight at the front. (I couldn’t do this with the leg I have at the moment “suction”)

Then it was a struggle to get upright, I would normally use the bed or a chair to help me up at this point.

Getting around the flat , didn’t prove to be much of a problem , I couldn’t use the wheel chair as I could only use my right arm , and it proved to be too much hassle trying to steer it and propel it from one side . so I used an old office chair, you know the one with five feet/wheels that move in all directions, I simply removed the arms and back so I was left with seat on 5 wheels, I quickly discovered that I could go anywhere in the flat on this, just by sitting on it and using my good leg to push towards the direction I wanted to go.

I also had a piece of timber about 1 foot long and about 2” wide that I would place between the wheels to stop it from moving when I wanted to “stand up”.

Using this I could get anywhere in the flat quickly and in a safe controlled manner.

Washing wasn’t a problem, just took twice as long,

However I just couldn’t find a way to have a bath , or should I say get into and out of the bath in a safe manner that wouldn’t bugger up my wounds , so I went for the shower .

I would sit on my seat and push right up to the shower, wedge the chair, stand up, twist, then sit down on a stool that was in the shower cubical , then grab the shower hose , put it on the floor , place my good foot on it to hold it , then reach up with my good hand and turn the shower on , once the temp had settled down , I would pick up the hose and get on with showering , again it took twice as long , but that didn’t matter because I was safely sitting down , and to be honest with you it was the highlight of my day .

Getting out was just the reverse, except I had placed towels ready.

That’s one thing you will become very good at: - planning, for a short while you will have to plan every thing in advance, I adopted a mindset that I call “BE HERE NOW” which basically means total concentration is required.

Carrying stuff , I had been using a back pack , but that was a no go so I went and got what I call a man bag where the strap goes over your neck , I would twist it round so the weight was on my good side and the “bag “ on my back . It worked out well.

Now the Toilet question, as a man having a wee wasn’t a problem but going for a crap was really a struggle to start with.

Again planning played a big part, first I trained myself to go at a certain time of day (evening).

I would remove my arty leg an all my cloths get on my stool and get to the toilet, then wedge the stool stand up, twist and sit down on the toilet, do the business, then came the “fun” part, fortunately I am right handed so there wasn’t too much of a problem with the wiping but I found it really difficult to lean forwards and balance, I overcome this by leaning to the left side and wedging myself against the wall which helped. The arm in the plaster actually helped with this, “it sort of hooked on the wall” as strange as it sounds.

On completion I would stand up twist and sit down on the stool and head to the shower (just to make certain that I didn’t miss any thing and I always had a shower at the end of the day anyway)

I am pleased to say that this system worked out very well.

Other stuff, again I will say plan every thing out to the last detail,

Balance will play a huge part on how you get up / down it is surprising how having one arm strapped up makes a huge difference on how you move around. It might pay you to have a few “dummy” runs now. Just practise getting up or down keeping your arm in a fixed position.

Other than that I just wish you well, and remember you will get through this, and think how much better you will be when you’re right arm is usable again. But in the mean time start planning & planning and a bit more planning for anything.

Phew ………………..Hope this helps …………Mick

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Sue, Ann, Cheryl & Mick:

Thanks for all your input.

Planning how to manage this next surgery - set for 1/17/11 - is keeping me busy. Wrapping up work again (getting ready now for the auditors...procedural notes for my coworkers and anything else that comes to mind) and planning how to make my home more workable feels a bit overwhelming. My new mantra... "what will be will be"!

I've decided to rent a hospital bed with a overhead grab bar so I will be able to sleep in the required semi reclined position for the 4 to 8 week recuperation. A friend can lend me a camode for the just in case late night need. A co-worker went through the same surgery a year ago and has lent me here sling/brace which will let me try to see what I will actually be dealing with.

Mick - your very good point to concentrate on every movement is so true. I've been warned that if I crash with a healing arm I'm in big trouble. My family and friends will also kill me.

I am feeling more overwhelmed with this surgery I think then I did with the amp. I guess it is because I did have a lot of time to come to terms with doing an amp while this prognosis was dumped on my this week. I could wait to do this work but to what gain. Sleep now is very difficult due to pain and waiting will only delay going forward with life.

So I'll keep occupied with list to notes and to keep my sanity I'm off to the gym to use the treadmill.

Thanks again to you all,


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