Wednesday, 02 January 2019 07:15

My New Shoulder

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For nearly thirty years, or maybe more, my left shoulder has given me fits. On our first date nearly twenty-seven years ago, I bumped Kristine on her head as I tried to put my arm around her while at a movie.  Why she kept seeing me and eventually marrying me, I will never really fully understand.

Nearly three decades have passed and in those decades I had two procedures. The first was an orthoscopic surgery and the second was called a “hemi”, where the end of my humerus was replaced with titanium that I affectionately called a door stop.  When I had that surgery, some twelve years ago or so, Dr. Steven Traina told me, next time it will be a full replacement.  Next time arrived, after putting it off for as long as I could, to the point of using the arm less and less.

Things have changed so much. I went in to an orthopedic surgeon in Phoenix (Dr. Tyler Collins) and basically told him what I needed to have done, and he asked when do you want to have surgery?  We picked a date and I began to prepare mentally and spiritually.  You see, I was consistently being told a shoulder replacement was the most difficult of the replacements.  Interestingly, when I told some what I was going to have done, they would look sad; shake their head and say, “I am sorry”.  My response was, “thanks”.  So I prepared for hell on earth and I prepared for the toughest test of my life.

I have already been through hell on earth, obviously. Through the fires of experiencing Quinton transition came the most amazing experiences and realization that we are all eternal.  With this knowledge, I look at each and every challenge, accident and bit of bad news as a learning experience.  With this knowledge in hand, I was ready. 

Surgery was November 2nd and I had been advised very forcefully to begin the pain management program before the nerve block wore off.  I was told of numerous wives who had called the doctor about thirty six hours after their husband’s surgery in a panic because their spouse was in unbelievable pain.  The common denominator in each instance was they had felt so good that they did not begin the pain management as instructed.  That would have been me ten years ago or so, but now older and wiser, I understand that the rules and advice apply to me too.  You see, I am not super human, even though I thought I was all those years ago.

Much to my surprise, everything went smooth. I followed instructions regarding pain management and was off the meds in a week, then started physical therapy exactly two weeks after surgery.  Three weeks after surgery I ditched the sling and asked during every step, what can I do and what shouldn’t I do at this point.  Seven weeks after surgery I asked and was told that could push it, as far as reps, just nothing more than ten lbs.  Eight weeks after surgery, during a PT session I had a bit of an epiphany as I continued to notice how my shoulder is becoming stronger and more flexible.  My epiphany was, it wasn’t about the weight I was using, but it was about being consistent and being grateful.

This seems so simple and obvious, but the epiphany was powerful. I am an individual that has accomplished much, but measure each day’s activity by what was accomplished in the past with the end result being disappointed with where I am now and giving up the path.  Does this make sense?  So here I am in Physical Therapy for my new shoulder being grateful and pleased that I can lift my arm at all.  Here I am being grateful for the slightest improvement as now I am able to lift my arm while holding a 1 lb. weight.  This is where it hit me.  The journey isn’t about how much lift or to what heights I reach; it is about being consistent with my activity as I move to an intended outcome, and being grateful.  So simple and in this simplicity, there is no reason for disappointment, only consistent movement forward and through whatever obstacles arise. 

My shoulder is doing great and thank you for asking. I already have a better range of motion than I have had in decades and it has only been two months.  While still weak, my strength is slowly improving a day at a time.  All I need to do is be consistent with my activity relating to my arm, my goals in life while enjoying all the blessings heaped upon us over the years and have faith that it will all workout. What is ironic is, in this place of peace, more Good arrives.

And so it is…

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