04 February, 2010

Fixing the Tiller Hand

While preparing Malua to go back into the water at Marmaris in 2007 I was kindly given a used 45Kg Rocla anchor. I lifted it off the dock and walked towards Malua across a puddle of muddy water. I only got half across when my feet slipped from under me and I fell backwards. While going down I managed to throw the anchor to one side but I landed on my right elbow. It was very soar for about two months and I found I could not lift my arm above my shoulder for the rest of the season.

The following season I applied antifouling to the underside of Malua much to the stress of my right shoulder. During the season it got so lame I could not lift it up to the top of the wheel. On returning to the Australia I visited the Orthopaedic surgeon who immediate diagnosed a rotary cuff or long head of the bicep tear of the ligaments.

In my case he said it was fixable after establishing which was the exact ligament that causing the pain. After an ultra-scan and a MRI (you know lying in a small tunnel while a large magnet spinning around you) and many dollars later I was booked into the local hospital for a shoulder reconstruction.

The week before Christmas I checked in and went under at about noon. The number of checks to confirm that it was in fact my right shoulder that they were operating on (surgeon draws large arrow on shoulder with permanent marker) was reassuring.

I came round about 300pm feeling very thirsty but no pain. That was to come later. After a reasonable night sleep I was given a hearty breakfast which I enjoyed but did not keep down for more than half a hour – not as bad a seasickness but the same effect. I was instructed to keep my arm in a sling for six weeks. Well can you imagine me doing that. Impossible. I must say though that I did not use the arm effectively for almost three weeks and the muscles have wasted. The pain is still here six weeks after the operation.

I am now out of the sling, doing exercises four times a day. At the moment I am trying to get the range of movement back but soon it will be building up the muscle and the strength. No more anti fouling this year.

While I was building Malua I had a medical set back and while I was in hospital all I could think about was how large the power winches would have to be to get me back on the boat. I installed the winched but recovered not to have to use them. Well this season I will have to use them!

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