Bicep Tendon Surgery
Life in General

Bicep tendon surgery

Three weeks or so ago, I wrote about our challenges dealing with Tim’s work injury and getting the USPS to get things in gear so he could get through all the medical reviews. It’s taken longer than we had hoped, but progress has been made.

Five weeks and counting

Five weeks to the day, he finally got in for the MRI. That was last Friday.

His pain has definitely lessened, unless he tries to do too much with his arm. He said even all the driving we did last weekend (more about that later) really made it hurt. So it wasn’t healing, at least not completely.

Monday, we met with his orthopedic surgeon. All along, we’d heard that there was no tear. Guess the MRI was needed as it did show the bicep tendon at his elbow was severely torn.

I loved how the doctor described it. He said, imagine holding a handful of spaghetti and trying to bend it in two. Some of the pieces would break while others would not. His tendon is like that, with about 90 – 95% of those strands broken.

If it had completely torn, his muscle would have recoiled into his upper bicep, creating what they call a “Popeye” muscle. Not really what anyone wants.

The doctor said if Tim were his age, he wouldn’t do anything. (We aren’t sure how old he is, but Tim guesses he’s in his 70s.) In many cases, people with a torn tendon can still function normally. Given Tim’s age and his desired level of activity, however, it only made sense to repair it.

Here’s a short but very informative article, if you’d like more information about this type of injury.

Back to the waiting game

So now we’re waiting to hear when surgery will be scheduled. Tim did hear from the workers’ comp person at the USPS and she told him it usually takes 2-4 weeks to be approved, but (and this is a big but) it could take as long as 8 weeks. No!! Who knows how the holidays will affect this timing.

At this point, we’d almost prefer to have nothing done until January. Although the clock just keeps ticking in terms of when he can go back to work. Given that, you’d think the USPS would be more motivated to approve it. And maybe it’s not entirely up to them, anyway, as oftentimes surgery schedules are made weeks into the future.

He will be getting the sick time used changed to workers’ comp continuation of pay, which we’re happy about. He will likely want to use some of that sick time later.

Surgery and recovery

It’s a relatively easy surgery, done through outpatient and according to what Tim’s read, it will last about an hour.

But the recovery period is three months!! The only good thing about that is he will not be working during the worst time of the year, at least weather-wise.

He’s actually a little sad he’s missing his last Christmas. He enjoys the people and handing out treats. The last week before Christmas, he always wears a Santa hat on his route.

This recovery time also includes physical therapy, but we don’t know when that starts or exactly what he’ll do. He’s tried to stay as active as he can, walking on the treadmill every day. (This is what’s messed with my treadmill time. 😁) After the surgery, however, they recommend no treadmill time.

Instead, they say ride a stationary bike (which we don’t have) or walk outside. He’s talked about going to the mall and walking every day. I’ll have to drive him so I guess that’s what I’ll be doing too. Perfect, now that I could actually use the treadmill. 😉

His last year of working

Tim’s currently planning to retire next October. With all of this now, he might work only another six months. That may sound nice, but it will affect his salary once he uses all his continuation of pay time, his sick time, and probably his leave time.

The USPS’s disability coverage pays 75% of his salary. Better than nothing, but we hadn’t planned on losing any of that yet. Guess it will be good practice for when we lose his salary entirely!!

In the meantime, this is good practice for when he does retire and it’s highlighting some of the things we’ll need to work out in terms of how we spend our time. I’m afraid I’ve gotten too used to being home alone all day.

But I’m not worried. We’ll figure it out. Or kill each other trying!!

6 Comments

  • Erica/Erika

    Hi Linda, Interesting analogy using the spaghetti. Darn it on the tendon. The last part of your post really resonated with me. We are still trying to work it out after two years home together. We haven’t killed each other. Yet. Hope all goes in the right direction for your husband, physically and financially.

    • Retired Introvert

      Thanks Erica. I know spending 24 hours a day together can be challenging for most couples. I have faith we’ll figure it out. I thought things were going smoother but it seems we might have a fight getting the government to agree his injury is severe enough to warrant time off. I hope once they get the actual diagnosis, they have to understand. 🙏🤞

  • Marty

    In hindsight, I think over-focused on saving all of my leave for the entire year so that I’d get a big payout when I retired (which I did during the rather unconventional month of August). The money was nice, of course, but honestly in the long run its nothing but a financial blip on the total radar. The FERS annuity and TSP,I now realize, were always more important. Hopefully Tim will find a date to retire that works best for him regardless of short-term benefits such as payouts.

    Sorry it’s taking so long for the USPS to get their HR act in gear. That borders on incompetence.

    • Retired Introvert

      Tim hasn’t worked at the USPS long enough to really benefit from any payouts. He is working towards 5 years so he can retain his health benefits and get a tiny pension that won’t even cover the health insurance. But the health insurance is so worth it for us. It’s saved us a bunch over the last few years and also once he’s retired.

      Things have probably gone as expected once his boss completed the injury report. That was really the stumbling block and I agree, it yells incompetence. I also wonder if there are some punitive aspects to reporting injuries, given the hesitation to file a report. If so, that’s too bad and it doesn’t help the employee much. Thanks Marty.

  • Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged

    I’m so sorry that he (and you) is going through this but it sounds like he is making some progress. Unfortunately, I’ve read that it’s not that unusual for retirement plans to be hijacked by life events. We get everything all planned out, then “stuff” happens. It makes it especially hard when it impacts holiday festivities.

    You’ve hinted a few times about the challenges of having your husband home full time. I hope you know that this is quite common. And, you are right, it needs to be worked out. Hopefully when he’s fully recovered, he’ll find things to do other than hang around the house 🙂 .

    • Retired Introvert

      Thanks Janis. I do think things will be different when he’s back to normal. I know there are lots of things he wants to do and will do them then. I also need to adjust my expectations. There are too many positives of having him around and I can’t forget those when I’m feeling a little frustrated.

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