The Painkiller Diaries


Still here 🙂

 still pecking away with one hand, almost 3 weeks post shoulder surgery.

‘your arm should be a limp noodle for 6 weeks’ my surgeon admonished me.

limp noodle, limp noodle, limp noodle -my sexy new mantra

I was also forewarned the first days after the procedure would be painful. uh, check…and that recovery from rotator cuff surgery is slow.

I’m not exactly the most patient patient in the world, but I think I’m doing as well as can be expected. many thanks for your emails and kind wishes!

I’ve also discovered there’s an awful lot of people who experience this type of injury at some point, so i thought i might share a few of the things i’ve learned while going through the process.

be forewarned; this is not a pretty post by any means. don’t worry, i’m not going to share my photos or the  surgery DVD i was sent home with ( to think i used to be happy leaving a doctor’s office with a plastic ring and balloon)  i haven’t the stomach to watch my movie yet (i get squeemy if my pierced earrings don’t go through on the first pass) but i’ll let you know if my performance was award-worthy once i do.

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 7.24.30 PM

i’m just saying…there’ll be no flowers or shoes and little fashion on this post.

you’ll just have to deal.

herewith then,

10 Tips for being a Successful, Semi-Productive, One-Armed Bandit for 6 Weeks;

*note; a couple of these tips are gender specific. you can decide which ones.

1) let’s get the nitty gritty out of the way first; lest this might not cross your mind, it’s a great idea to wax your underarms to within a centimeter of their lives the night before surgery. you will be unable to shave for at least a few weeks after.

2) a mani-ped the day before is mandatory.

3) invest in a good back scratcher-they’re a life-saver.

4) load up on elastic waisted sweats, p.j.’s and slouchy, easy to put on tops. your arm and shoulder will be big and swollen for several days.  arm-holes will be an issue and surgery = bloating.

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 7.13.02 PM5) Channel your inner Julian Schnabel and also get yourself at least one decent set of ‘going out’ pyjamas, just in case you simply must make a social appearance

IMG_7904my ‘street jams’


6) before surgery you should get set up with one of these ice machines that pulse freezing water through a large pad that clamps your arm & shoulder and attaches with velcro bands around your torso.  have a couple of practice sessions before your surgery with whoever will be nursing you during recovery.

ice machineonce you come out of your pain-killer haze, if you’re anything like me,  you’ll start to regard this device with extreme aversion

alien-Don’t. the creature is your friend, and it really does help. it can also be used on knees, thighs, hips, elbows (and possibly faces) so at $195 it’s a good investment.

i warned you this wasn’t going to be pretty.

all men look away now.

 7) one of the hardest things to deal with after surgery is getting dressed, but by the second week i’d devised a pretty genius bra positioning system, even if i do say so myself.

strapless braps. this is how much i love you that i would share this photo of my old M & S strapless bra.

let’s have some trust here people-i don’t want to see this on Pinterest! (at least not credited)

here’s what you do;

a) get a huge t-shirt that pulls on & off easily

b) place the bra (strapless or not, depending on how much you can bear on your shoulder) around your waist over the t-shirt and do it up at the front. if you’ve been suffering from a bad rotator cuff for awhile you’re probably already well versed in doing your bra up like you did in grade school.

c)  pull the t-shirt up with your good hand, very gently, starting from around the chest region. the bra will follow. continue until the bra is in desired location.

d) remove t-shirt over head. voila.

don’t you think i should write instructions for Ikea??

8) buy some slide on hair bands. there is no way, no how you will be able to put your hair up or out of the way yourself for several weeks. it’s impossible.

God bless my male nurse-i love him to pieces and he’s been brilliant, but  he did not miss his calling as a hair dresser.


scrunchieI hand him my scrunchie and it’s like I’ve given him the plans to build Gaudi’s  Sacrada Familia

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 5.12.58 PM

come to think of it, this does resemble one of his loftier follicular efforts 🙂

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9) buy several of these rubber kitchen things you use for taking items out of the oven or getting a grip on tough to open jars.  keep one in the kitchen, bedside (or recliner side), in the shower and one where you apply your makeup. these will allow you to ‘get purchase’ on containers  (including child-proof prescription bottles) from the bottom and open them with your one good hand. just place the bottle on the pad, push down and turn.

I wish i’d discovered this little trick before my Neely O’Hara “Valley of the Dolls” incident one painful, sleep challenged night.

Patty Duke in Valley of the Dolls, 1967.

i’m still finding pills on the floor.

When I look at the ‘post op’ list i’d compiled of all the things i was going to do from my recovery recliner I have to laugh.

The early days are attention deficit theatre.  Practice my French? c’est fou! organize photos? don’t be ridicoolus. eat an Elvis inspired deep-fried peanut butter & jelly sandwich while under the influence of pain-killers? Even that never happened.

I crossed virtually nothing off, save watching the first 4 episodes of “Homeland”, two instalments of “The Returned” and I’m half-way through reading “Empty Mansions; the mysterious life of Huguette Clark”

but you know what I did watch a ton of??




10) hellooo…the “Kitchen Cousins” John Colaneri & George Clooney Anthony Carrino

where have I been?  it’s great!

your thoughts?

my favourite thing about the show is that it doesn’t reek of staged, oh-so-faux drama and deadlines. we needn’t name the multiple offenders here…you know who you are.

no, really-that is my favourite thing.

they arrive, they knock down the kitchen, design a new one, build it on time and within budget (in fact i don’t recall budgets even being discussed) and move on, hopefully to a town near you 🙂


I couldn’t, in all good conscience, leave you with no pleasant visuals!

how did I end up with men carrying heavy lumber in a ‘post-shoulder surgery tips’ post?

your guess is as good as mine, but it is entitled “The Painkiller Diaries”

it had to eventually go off the rails…

Have a great, healthy & happy week!


ps. many thanks to my great surgeon Dr. Richard Ryu and the cute staff at Elite Physical Therapy in Montecito!

Blast from the past; a fun post on wearing your pyjamas out; Slumber in the Streets



  1. The pain killers didn’t kill your sense of humor…. This reminds me of when I broke my arm back in the days when I insisted on driving a stick shift car… going around corners and making left turns was a little tricky and caught the attention of more than one cop… Sure wish I had known about the Twister Grips back then… Hope you will be healed in time to eat turkey dinner with a knife and fork…

  2. So many genius ideas here. I think I would forgo wearing o’ the bra and just wear a tight tee shirt and walk slowly to keep the jiggling to a minimum. I do hope you feel better soon. I have friends that have had this and it is a bit of a long healing time. Just rest and get well. Let everyone take care of you. You deserve it.

  3. I’m scheduled for surgery (rotator & labrum) in December….I can’t thank you enough for your suggestions &
    reality check. I’m nervous, but it helps to know what’s in store for me. Warm wishes for a speedy recovery!

  4. Bless your recovering heart – um, shoulder. Your sense of humor is fully intact – as is your ability to compose an excellent blog entry.

  5. PS…I ment for you to wear the tee under your jammies or what ever you are managing to wear. Tight tee not always the most fashionable look, but on you it probably would look great. Feel better

  6. OMG, hope you’re feeling all recovered very soon, Slim. So nice of you to give great and humorous tips. Love Dr. Georgey Gorgey Cloony. Now, it sounds like I’m on pain killers but no, saving them all for you.

  7. The nurse told me…you will be in a lot of pain. I said , how much? She gave me a look. I had no idea.

    Thank goodness for my water contraption. Saved my life.

    Keep up the work. Climb the wall
    And stretch overhead. Do the stretches. Ouch! Pain. Agony.

    I am empathetic.

    But. You will get better. One year

  8. Oh, what an amazing post in light of your pain and physical constraints!! You are to be commended. My sister-in-law is going through post knee-replacement surgery and there are a lot of good ‘helpful hints’ for her in your post. She has suffered greatly with the pain, as I’m sure you have, too! It will get better, honest – meanwhile, it’s hard to not want to ‘step aside’ from your pain – it’s so invasive and just won’t take the hint that it’s time to leave!! I feel for you!

  9. Hi Slim, I love this post and the gory details; it is exactly what I needed to hear. You have convinced me that my torn rotator cuff is probably going to stay torn……………
    Prayers for a speedier recovery, xoxo

  10. Bless your heart. I’m amazed that you could put together something so entertaining less than 3 wks out! Praying for a fast and complete recovery. Love you and your blog!

  11. Once I tweeted: “Property Brothers, yes please!” Minutes later, Drew, the realtor brother tweeted me back: “Okay, since you put it nicely!” I know they have fake deadlines, but I love their show. I hope you recover soon, Slim. I had a total hip replacement a year ago in September and I’m finally, nearly recovered. Great tips for your sisters who will follow you in this oh-so-major surgery!

  12. Slim, I so love your Blog and are with you in spirit each and every one.

    The Painkiller Diaries, however, really resonated with me more than most. I can certify that everything you describe is true, though you’ve down played some of the more painful aspects, trooper that you obviously are. I fell out of the loft in my teeny-tiny writing cottage a year ago in June, dislocating my shoulder, tearing my rotator cuff, and breaking my humerus so I literally feel your pain. As you well know, the pain is excruciating from the onset and only mildly less so through recovery and rehab.

    The scariest part for me was not being able to move my fingers (since recovered). Would I ever again be able to keyboard my e-mails using the fingers of both my hands? Would I ever again be able to entertain my husband at cocktail hour with my keyboard renditions, courtesy of “Scott the Piano Guy” of Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll, John Lennon’s Imagine, or Roy Orbison’s/Linda Ronstadt’s Blue Bayou?

    Scarier still was the first time (and subsequent times), my arm, briefly out of the immobilizer to shower, felt like an alien dead-weight appendage somehow attached to my body like a clinging parasite I had no ability to control.

    The good news for me is that I’ve completely recovered the use of my fingers so I no longer have to hunt and peck on my computer keyboard. The other news is that I’m ready to attempt my living room cocktail lounge comeback for my husband’s cocktail hour listening pleasure.

    It only just occurs to me as I’ve written in a jocular tone that your injury has not only been painful, but has also impeded your exquisite photographic ability, so most certainly your Blog as well.

    My concern and best wishes for your full recovery, Slim, ASAP.

    Patricia Wilson Columbia, CT

  13. Glad to see you back! I’m so impressed with your bra tactic. Really ingenious. Thanks for pointing out the Kitchen Cousins. I managed to miss that show somehow, but will rectify that immediately. Hope you feel better very soon and can do your own hair.

  14. By no means am I laughing at your pain and rehabilitation but your sense of humor is such that even your post surgery daily routines made me laugh. I do hope that this is a full on recovery and after this you might even be so strong you will join the Olympic trials for the javelin! But I hope you are eating well and not stressing out over anything but purely concentrating on getting well x

  15. Oy, I’m scheduled for an MRI on my right shoulder tomorrow. So hope I don’t need surgery. But if I do, I’ll come back to this post time and again to laugh through it all. So glad I found you Slim, you’re a delight every time you post.

  16. I’m a huge fan of “Property Brothers”…not so much surgery. You ARE a trooper, Slim, thanks for an early morning wake-up post! franki p.s….yea, and this, too, shall pass…

  17. Your blog is wonderful (the very 1st I read), & I’m so happy when I see your name! Now I know what pain you’re in, & all I can give back is loads of sympathy. Write when you feel like it, Slim….you’ll NEVER lose your followers

  18. Yikes! I guess I must not have been keeping up — I am glad that you are on the mend and manage to take even this event with a good dose of humor. And the tips are excellent! Series Worthy. (I wonder if that ice pack machine could go on a head — could beat the pants off constantly changing ice packs during a migraine. Hmmmm…)

    Well, continue to feel better and I look forward to all of your post-recovery posts.


  19. Slim,
    Only you can make something as difficult as rotator cuff surgery funny! I have one friend, who after talking to another friend that had endured the surgery and aftermath, cancel her surgery and work with a physical therapist. That was enough to scare me, but I hope you’re now on the back side of recovery and well on your way to full mobility.
    I’ll have to check out the kitchen cousins…man, are they cute or what?!

  20. Slim, so good to see your sense of humor is still strong! Very cute post and I agree about “Kitchen Cousins” being great entertainment! It’s nice to see a man do something in the kitchen even if it’s not cooking. Keep your spirits up!

  21. huh…I had no idea that a torn rotator cuff was so common in women…you have found lots of devices and tricks, but the body will heal in its own time…so glad that your sense of humor and wit prevail–a selfish thing for me to say…how have I missed those dreamy youngsters in Kitchen Cousins? Must watch immediately. I would think watching them would be very healing! Must include comedy–you know, laughter is the best medicine! For me, I would spend hours listening to Pandora. Speaking of youngsters, did you ever play Operation? Am thinking that was before your day…am sending well wishes your way…

  22. Dear Slim, as soon as I saw the title to this post i was hooked in more ways than one!
    I hope you are getting better and better every day.
    After so many surgeries these past two years. I was in a fog. I finally took the step ( apparently my pain management specialist did not think it was a problem) to cut meds in half and my head is now clear. it is like the world is out there again in full color!

  23. Ouch Slim! Hope you are starting to feel better- it all sounds miserable (except the part about the cousins;) My mother-in-law was explaining to my husband about someone in their family having “rotary cuff” surgery! I think some wine would help!! Be well.

  24. Dear Slim,

    God bless you. I feel remiss that I did not wish you well when I read your last post, but, as usual, I was so entertained by your witty prose that I forgot! Please forgive me. I have never experienced this particular surgery, but have been through some very painful surgeries of a different nature. Thank God for pain medication. Feel better soon and hang in there. (Oops, sorry. No pun intended).


  25. Thank you Slim. You manage to turn your shoulder surgery experience into a public service. Now we, Slim Paley faithfuls, can go thru a torn rotator with elegance and style.

    So wish you’d had spinal stenosis surgery last year. I could have used the help. x

  26. I can really appreciate this post being that I’m suffering from rotator cuff tendinitis at the moment. I rarely even bother with a bra, and let’s just say that one underarm is much girlier than the other.

  27. My son is about three months ahead of you in recovery and he also had some funny comments regarding daily life, such as “Wow brushing your teeth with your opposite hand takes lots of concentration.” I hope you feel much better soon.

  28. I feel your pain! I had rotator cuff surgery two years ago. It was well worth it and I’m glad you seem to be doing well. I have a tip from my physical therapist during physical therapy. He told me to take a pain pill a half hour to hour before therapy to help the therapists manipulate your arm. I was concerned about becoming dependent on Vicodin and didn’t do it the first appointment. My mistake! I consulted two physicians in my family and they told me it was a good idea to take a pain pill because your arm needs to be flexible so they can do their work. I felt like the Tin Man without oil at the first appointment. I followed orders after that and it was smooth sailing. It only gets better each day that passes and you will be so happy you had the surgery when you have fully recovered.

  29. I am 8 weeks post op from rotator cuff surgery. Every single thing you wrote is spot on. I did not have a recliner to recover in. I had given both of them to my children when they got their first apartments. After 2 days of sleep deprivation, I drove myself to a furniture store and bought one on the condition they could deliver that afternoon.
    I am now out of the brace and can see light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for making my day.

  30. Well, it is obvious that even a goddess like you gets injured and has to see a doctor. I myself have suffered Ulcerative Colitis and had to have most of my colon removed. I must say you are just as funny as your husband! I look forward to your next post.

  31. Bless you, Slim. Your attitude is {no surprise} fantastic. And that bra technique is genius. I hope you continue to feel so much better!
    P.S. I’m not even post op and I have that…what do you call it? What was I saying? Oh yes, Attention Deficent Theater. If you ever figure out a solution for THAT, please share STAT!

  32. wow. that is some pain + pain is like a big black hole sucking all my energy out + at least you have not lost your sense of humor + loved the post + here’s to a speedy recovery to you slim

  33. Many prayers for a speedy recovery, Slim! I love your bra tips! It reminded me of a Mr. Bean sketch where he puts on his speedo bathing suit on while wearing trousers, but he manages to remove his trousers and wear the bathing suit!! My kids loved that so much!! I kind of pictured you doing that with your bra. Keep posting!!

  34. Slim, I love receiving your blog. Thank you for your splendid writing and photography. I have tried to leave comments before, but, I don’t ever know if they go through. I have had two knee replacements and that was really hard. Scheduled surgery for torn rotator cuff today. Thanks for the insights and humor of it all!

  35. That bottle-opening trick is GENIUS. I’m logging that away – so many occasions for use! Holding a baby…post op shoulder…okay maybe not that many but it IS genius!

  36. Feel better, Slim! Your tips really do demonstrate that necessity is the mother of invention! This post has reminded me to never take anything for granted, including putting my bra on every day. Hang in there!

  37. Well hi there, lil SIS! : ) Welcome to Slim Paley. I knew you’d love her! You both have lots in common ~ fabulous taste, awesome senses of humor, shoulder scars. : )

  38. Slim, try front-closing bras. When I had my shoulder surgery I purchased several Vanity Fair Illumination bras. Not only are they front-closing, but they can be worn three different ways. I wore them with the straps around my neck for a couple of months to take the pressure off my shoulder. Front closing is definitely less painful. After 2+ months post shoulder surgery, I still prefer my front closing bras even though I now wear the straps in the regular style.

    Good to read your healing is on track. Stay Strong!

    • great tip wavedeva! i only wish i’d thought about front closing bras before surgery. literally the last thing one wants to do post-op is to go bra shopping (except, of course, bathing suit shopping 🙁 )

  39. Slim, try front-closing bras. When I had my shoulder surgery I purchased several Vanity Fair Illumination bras. Not only are they front-closing, but they can be worn three different ways. I wore them with the straps around my neck for a couple of months to take the pressure off my shoulder. I would set the open bra on my bed, lie on top of it, and close the front while still lying down. I still prefer the front-closing bras two months post-surgery (reaching behind is the slowest skill to come back) even though I now wear the straps in the regular configuration.

    Glad to read you’re doing well. Stay strong!

  40. SP… will come to visit soon… so glad you discovered the Cousins.. been hanging with them for a couple of years 🙂 Their new show is “Cousins Undercover”… or is that Under Covers?

  41. Your rotator cuff surgery and post recovery must surely have been very painful but your fabulous and cheeky sense of humour is forever intact… 🙂
    I am sure by now you are ready for tight tops and elaborate hairdos…
    Look after you… xv

  42. I wanna go with you LK ~ Heck, let’s go in our “street jams,” do each others hair, help slim “find” her pills and make a party of it! The cousins are of course invited! 🙂

  43. Sorry to hear about your poor rotator cuff! Sounds as though you’re now well on the road to recovery. Once you get your sense of humour back (though you probably had never lost yours) life seems to improve no end. Best wishes, Pamela

  44. Oh Slim …you still have it about putting earrings in. DVD of your surgery!! is it pressed upon you so you can recommend the Doctor?

  45. Hang in there slim. I too have experienced the pain of this and believe me you have my empathy and admiration for the fabulous humor you have seemingly maintained through it all! It’s a slow road back as you have already discovered, but it really does get better. Bless you for sharing your personal experiences and making us laugh at our human condition. Please keep it coming…we all love and need it!!!

  46. Oops sorry! That’s Slim with a capital S, for you are indeed our one and only Slim! This is what happens when I do this stuff in the weeeee hours of the morning:(

Would love to hear from you!