If you think the worst part of your shoulder surgery recovery will be wiping with the other hand… you’d be wrong.

Hi! It’s been a while, indeed! So, yes. My last blog post was at the end of February, and much has happened since then. Long story short… Rotator Cuff surgery that also included Bicep repair. If you’ve had this surgery, you need not read further. You already get it. For those of you who have never experienced such pain and misery, let me explain.


I returned from Vietnam last September to see family, restock on gear, and also get the VA to look at my shoulder. The VA experience was quite an ordeal, trying to be seen, scheduling timely appointments, and ultimately settling on a surgery date. An MRI revealed I had a medium-grade, 1.3cm full-thickness tear of my right supraspinatus tendon. I had to switch over to my Community Care option in February. I got an appointment to see my civilian Orthopedic surgeon in Rockwall, Texas, and he had me on the table 3 weeks later, which turned out to be March 16th. The surgery went fantastic. The nerve block helped, but thereafter, it was me, my Percocet, and my Valium… sleeping in a recliner for a month. Oh… ICE. Ice became my biggest friend. They gave me an ice machine that you filled 1/4 with water and the rest with ice. This machine pumps ice water to a shoulder sleeve. 

Rotator Cuff tears are not what I thought they were. Not even close. I’ve not had an injury that takes so long to recover. I did 10 sessions of therapy while living at home with my folks. I ain’t gonna lie. It’s cool to be able to gallivant and traipse around the world like a wanderlusting fool, but damn… it’s good to have people to go home to. My sister is a nurse. God bless her. My Pops got me to my appointments on time and waited for me. I almost wussed out at one point when I injured myself during the course of my sleep. Mama happened to be coming out of the bathroom and saw me whimpering. I told her I hurt myself. She asked if there was anything she could do. After thinking about it for a second, I deduced that there was no way she could help me, so I said no. So she went back to bed, leaving me to writhe on my own. AND I APPRECIATE THAT! I’m 54 years old. What was she supposed to do… come kiss my boo-boo to make it all better? Bake me some cookies? Give me a “hug” and tell me it’s going to be alright? Nope. My Mama didn’t raise no punks. Would a hug and cookies have been nice? Probably so! But that is NOT THE POINT! Mama let me be a man.

Fast forward another month, and I’m back in Hanoi, Vietnam. When I thought I was strong. TRAVEL taught me I was still a little weakling. I scheduled 4 successive flights within 10 days. I wanted to visit my kids in Nashville and Omaha, visit friends in Las Vegas, and then return to Vietnam. I made it as far as Omaha, where my son is, and had to cancel the Vegas flight. I had not the strength. THOUGHT I DID. I did NOT! I rebooked from Omaha to Vietnam, and it proved to be the most challenging physical thing I’ve done since leaving the military. I barely made my leg from Chicago, where I made my connecting flight to Doha in a wheelchair pushed by a nice dude with American Airlines. 

The 13-hour flight from Chi-town to Doha, Qatar, was excruciating, but once I arrived, I was able to rejuvenate myself at the Al Maja Lounge for an 8-hour layover. It truly made all the difference. I was then ready for my last leg to Hanoi. My good friend, Michael… an ex-pat businessman here, arranged for me a car and driver to pick me up and get me to the temporary apartment I arranged with my previous building manager. I am now settled in a much better spot overlooking West Lake via 4 windows. It’s gorgeous, quiet, and I love it. 

What is the plan now? I’m going to sit tight, do my therapy exercises, take it easy, and contemplate how my girlfriend and I will make our lives here for the time being and when we’ll move on to see the rest of the world. I’m trying to plan some different things to make life and travel easier. I have to make some changes. The world has changed. The US made some big changes in my absence, and it freaked me out. It was like a culture shock from my own culture. I need to make travel and living adjustments to meet these challenges. More to come on this, as several adjustments I’ve already made. It’s just not enough. But I will get into that in another blog post. 

For now, just know that I am recovering. I am 11 weeks post-op, and recovery time is expected to be a full year. Sleeping in a bed is still problematic. I sleep on the couch since it’s easier to stay off my injured shoulder. This experience has been depressive, agonizing, and debilitating. I’ve kept to myself a lot, but I’m glad to have gotten the chance to see a few friends when paths crossed. I’m still trying to keep my spirits up. I’m in a better mental place, but knowing I can expect to stay in chronic pain for AT LEAST another four months is daunting. Priorities now are to not do something stupid to reinjure or retear my tendon. Docs have warned me that this tendon does not get good blood supply and to not overdo it. So I’ll continue to do my exercises, get rest, take my vitamins, and not lift any weights on this arm. That’s all I can do for now.