It’s quite scary waking up to find you are quite immobile. I live in a hefty corset with my left arm stretched out and up in front of me. Initially I could not budge from my lying position: flat on my back with the left side wedged up with a giant triangular cushion.
Luckily I was sufficiently drugged during the evening to be in not too much pain. But as the night advanced it became, as the French say, ‘insupportable’. I gritted my teeth, trying to display some strength of mind over matter. Eventually the grit turned into tears and I rang for help. The nurse was kind, reproved me for not ringing earlier, gave me some morphine and said it would have worked better had I not waited. She was right. It was not just my shoulder which hurt, but all my arthritic back, which did not like being trapped in one position. A night I try to forget.
The following night I was determined not to make the same mistake and rang as soon as the pain increased. An aide appeared and said the nurse would be there shortly. Eighty minutes later she arrived to find me in tears again. The aide had not passed on the message and she was only there because she wanted to check up on me. She muttered about poor standards of training these days and reassured me it would be better the third night when the drains taking blood out of the shoulder would be removed.
She was right. The pain was less and has remained at manageable levels, thanks to morphine. In fact my main problems now are not really the shoulder, but all the aches and pains pre-existing the op, exacerbated by this immobility.
What this experience shows is that the disadvantage of being on one’s own is that there is no passing nurse seeing you are having problems. It is up to the patient to be assertive.