Thanks so much for the kind words and for sharing your enthusiasm. Everyone on this site loves a passionate skoolie builder.
My current status is painful, but much less so than I expected. I had surgery on my right elbow two weeks ago and was told to expect excruciating pain in the days after the operation, but it really hasn't been too bad. Perhaps due to the oxycodone or maybe because my pain threshold has increased as of late, but either way, I'm doing pretty well. Of course, my first physical therapy session is Tuesday and I'm expecting to walk out of that appointment weeping and covered in sweat.
Surgical details for those who may be interested:
Two hours before the procedure, I was precisely dosed with x-rays at the surgical site. The radiation is supposed to prevent further bone growth after the surgery. (This type of radiation therapy can also be used to prevent the initial onset of ossification if prescribed in the first couple hours after the trauma that may cause it. Unfortunately, since they don't know who may develop the ossification, they can't very well go around shooting everyone who comes into the trauma center with the equivalent of a thousand chest x-rays, so it's not something that happens too often.) As high as the radiation dose is, it's still about a hundredth of what they give cancer patients during their treatment.
The last thing I remember before the surgery was getting measured for a nerve block in my shoulder. They put a small IV drip about a half-inch below the skin near a main nerve that runs into the arm and this drip administers a constant flow of lidocaine (or some derivative thereof) and it does wonders to stop the pain of post-op recovery. In fact, for two days after the surgery, I basically couldn't feel or even move my entire arm. Within 30 minutes of its removal, I was able to move my arm a bit and after a couple hours I was almost normal. This was when I was expecting the worst pain, but it wasn't bad.
The surgeon ground away a lot
of excess calcium that had enveloped my entire elbow joint, fusing it into a bent stick. He also dug out a nerve that was encapsulated by bone growth and because of all the manipulation he anticipates I may have some numbness and/or tingling in my hand and fingers for a long time, maybe permanently.
There was a lot of excess bone, but he had to be careful to not remove too much, else I'd end up with a weak elbow. To be safe, he removed possibly a little less than he could rather than too much. I have to wear an arm brace that prevents me over-extending the elbow, but the brace will come off eventually. For now, I wear it all the time except when showering and for a couple hours during the day just to let my arm breathe a bit. It's a pain to sleep with, though.
The wound site is impressively gruesome. They pulled out about thirty staples a week after the surgery and when they pulled off the dressing, a little plastic drain fell out of the wound. They were going to remove it anyway, but it was kind of gross when it fell to the table and a few drops of me came out with it. I was assured it would close on its own and sure enough, today it's nothing more than a four-inch scar. Yet another conversation starter.