Archives for posts with tag: surgery

A friend recently had surgery and he told me that full recovery could take 6-12 months. Then he said, “I’ve got to find a ton of patience.” My reply was to assure him that I would join him in praying for patience. Then I asked jokingly, “Do you believe in miracles?”PatienceIt has been almost nine months since I had a fall and tore my rotator cuff. Seven months ago I had surgery to repair the damage. Physical therapy exercises have helped and I now experience only discomfort and soreness, not pain. I am able to perform simple functions that were complicated or impossible a few months ago. Tasks like putting on my socks, tying my shoes, scratching the opposite shoulder from the injured one, and feeding my belt through the loops behind my back.

I have made considerable progress but I am ready for this to be over. Patience is not one of my strongest character traits and I suspect I am not alone.

Dr. Robert Schuller is best known as an author, the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, and the weekly Hour of Power television program. He espoused the philosophy of Possibility Thinking and suggested that “Inch by inch anything is a cinch.”  All it requires is patience.

Napoleon Hill says, “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” While there may be some truth to that, I find it difficult to wait. To have patience. If Saint Augustine was right that patience is the companion of wisdom, then I can make no claim to being wise.

Patience Is Not The Ability To Wait, But The Ability To Keep A Good Attitude While Waiting

I understand that when we allow God to be in control of our lives one of the results is that we practice patience along with other “fruit of the Spirit.” We possess not only the ability to wait but we are not anxious and restless while we wait. The writer of the biblical Book of Hebrews admonishes those to whom it was written, “you have need of patient endurance to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising, so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36, AMP).

So, I will pray for my friend to have patience. I will also ask God to help me to do the same. Anyone else need to be included in my prayers?

Jamie Jenkins

“I have been through a lot in my life,” he said. Then the young man talked about the health issues he had experienced in his soon to be twenty-four years. He had surgery to remove a brain tumor and then he was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer.

The survival rate for children who had this type of cancer was 40-70%. The prognosis for people over 18 was not nearly as good- less than 15%. Over the past 30 years there were less than 500 cases of adults with this form of cancer in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The cancer began in his lungs and then spread to the bone in his left arm. Chemotherapy and radiation reduced the size of the tumor. Then surgery removed the rotator cuff and the deltoid, the muscle forming the rounded contour of the human shoulder. He said the upper four inches of his left arm were “metal bone.” Two and a half weeks ago he was declared cancer free. “In reality I am a dead man walking,” he remarked.

As I listened I was struck with this young man’s attitude. There was no hint of bitterness or anger. No whining. Just a deep sense of gratitude for the knowledge and compassionate care of the medical personnel that treated him.

stock photo of medical personnel - portrait of successful medical team - JPG

Harry Emerson Fosdick said, “It is not what life brings to us in its hand but what we bring to it in our spirit that makes the difference.” This twenty-something man exhibited the kind of attitude that I wish was present in more people. He was an exceptional example that adversity does not have to make us bitter. If we respond as he has, difficulty can make us better.

Positive Attitude

Later in the same day that I overheard the aforementioned comments I visited two people in a rehab facility recovering from a fall. They were both decades older than the young fellow who had “been through a lot.” Because of their injuries their lives had taken a dramatic turn but they too had a hopeful and cheerful attitude and were doing what was needed to recover.

Cross that bridge

The Apostle Paul’s instructions were to “give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you.” I don’t believe he was suggesting that facing difficult times was what God wanted for you. Rather he was trying to help us realize that the only disability in life is a bad attitude and folks want to be around other folks who maintain a positive outlook.

Jesus said, “In the world you have trouble. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

Tom Stoppard reminds us that after all is said and done, “A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”

Jamie Jenkins

I had a fall a few months ago and injured my shoulder. I tore the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and their tendons act to stabilize the shoulder. This type of injury is fairly common occurring most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports.

An illustration of the shoulder joint and tendons.

The risk of rotator cuff injury also increases with age. Aging and a hard fall combined to cause my injury. Sometimes physical therapy solves the problem but some cuff tears require surgical repair.

A woman slips and falls on ice.

My injury required surgery after which I was given a sling to stabilize and support my arm. The surgeon told me in a follow up visit a few weeks later that I did not have to wear the sling all the time and he did not want my arm to be “glued to my side.” In other words, I was to move the injured arm as much as possible to prevent the shoulder from freezing up. I understood what the doctor said but it was extremely painful to do move that arm.

The surgeon and many people who have had rotator cuff surgery told me that recovery would take a long time and it would be hard. They are correct. Yesterday marked 4 months since surgery and 3 months since I began physical therapy. Things are better but I have still have a good way to go for full recovery.

One day during a physical therapy I heard one of the therapists tell another patient that “You have re-program your brain.” I am learning that is a very big part of recovery.

When we are injured, physically or emotionally, our brain signals us to protect ourselves. It is difficult to deal with the pain and easy to avoid it. If it hurts to move the shoulder, my brain tells me to keep it stationary. If is it painful to acknowledge words or actions that hurt me, it is easy to deny or try to forget. But things won’t get better if we avoid the issue.

Surgery and hard exercises are helping me to recover from a rotator cuff injury. Something similar also helps to overcome emotional injuries. All of our experiences and the feelings that accompanied the experiences are stored in our brain. Memories of painful experiences are tough to deal with but facing them honestly is the first step in overcoming their paralyzing grip.

Mike Robinson* says, “Many people bury the memories of wounds and injuries caused by negative words, actions and attitudes rather than face the pain. In doing so, they also bury the possibility of healing.” A long time ago I discovered a book by David Seamands, Healing for Damaged Emotions, that was very helpful to me in dealing with painful memories. Robinson and Seamands both offer counsel to help heal emotional hurts that are every bit as real as physical injury.

 

It would have been foolish of me to deny that my shoulder hurt and refuse medical solutions. It is equally valid to seek spiritual help for emotional pain. We are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings. God wants us to be healthy in all three aspects of our life.

Jamie Jenkins

(http://www.barnabasnetwork.com/emotional_healing_2)

Winter weather prevailed when I left on February 2 for a trip to the Holy Land. The high that day was 42 degrees. Three weeks later I returned to see evidence that spring was just around the corner.

Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') in bloom.

All the way home from the airport I saw Bradford Pear trees with their bountiful and beautiful white blossoms. As I neared my house I saw a Redbud tree and a Japanese Magnolia tree in all their brilliance. When we arrived at our house the daffodils in our front yard greeted us.

Closeup photo of the beautiful Redbud blossoms

The words of the Hymn of Promise came to my mind. “In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be. Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.” (full lyrics below).

Atlanta Braves 2018 spring training

After unpacking and getting a good night’s rest I checked in on the Braves Spring Training which began while I was away. I miss not being present in Florida as the team begins preparation for the regular season. It was good to hear about the promising young players like Ozzie Albies and Ron Acuna and the team leaders like Freddie Freeman and Julio Tehran.

One more, I know you can : Stock Photo

A couple of days after returning from my travels I got started back with physical therapy for my surgically repaired shoulder. Progress from a torn rotator cuff has been slow and painful but after a few weeks of therapy I can see progress in my range of motion and reduced discomfort.

The next day there were seven babies baptized during the worship service at my church, Peachtree Road United Methodist in Atlanta. We recalled that “Jesus gave a special place to the children.” We were reminded that “Through the Sacrament of Baptism we are initiated into Christ’s holy Church. We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit. All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price.”

The parents of the children being baptized all promised to “nurture these children in Christ’s holy Church, that by your teaching and example they may be guided to accept God’s grace for themselves, to profess their faith openly, and to lead a Christian life.”

The congregation vowed, “With God’s help we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that these children, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith and confirmed, and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”

PRUMC Habitat for Humanity Build

That same morning I heard of the church’s plan to build their 46th Habitat for Humanity Home because we believe that every person should have access to a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Also an announcement was made about The Great Day of Service, Saturday, March 24. This is our annual community volunteer day when all ages put their faith in action as they serve those in need across Atlanta. Each year during Lent, nearly 1,000 church members and friends take this Saturday to make helping others a priority. 

Great Day of Service 2017

We were also informed of the plan to help “Fill the Pantry for Buckhead Christian Ministries” as we work together to prevent hunger and homelessness for those facing life-changing events such as a job loss, a reduction in work hours or a medical problem.

This year’s Lenten Offering will be used to support the 16 agencies and ministries with whom our church partners in the Greater Atlanta area to make a difference in the lives of others. We were encouraged to give something up during this season and to give the money that we would have spent on what we are giving up to this offering.

I am grateful for these and other signs of hope!

Jamie Jenkins

HYMN OF PROMISE (words and music by Natalie A. Sleeth, 1986)

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

 

 

Much of our identity comes from the formal and informal groups with which we relate or to which we belong. Civic clubs, charitable and political organizations, athletic booster clubs, religious groups, and many more appeal to different people. Recently I have become a part of the SSPS (Shoulder Surgery Patients Society).

SSPS is not an “official” group or organization but it has many adherents. I had no idea until a recent fall injured my left shoulder. After X-rays at the Urgent Care facility I was given a sling to support the weight of the arm. A follow up visit to an orthopedic doctor and an ultrasound determined that I had a torn rotator cuff and surgery was scheduled.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that act to stabilize the shoulder. These muscles are important in shoulder movements and in maintaining shoulder joint stability.

Illustration of three types of rotator cuff injuries.

Rotator cuff injuries occur most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports. Examples include painters, carpenters, and people who play baseball or tennis. The risk of rotator cuff injury also increases with age.

Once I started wearing the sling it was obvious to others that I had an injury and people from everywhere began to tell me of their experience with shoulder problems. One 90 year-old friend said he had the same problem and his doctor told him that surgery was not an option because at his age they would find “nothing but mush” in his shoulder. The physician that performed my ultrasound said there was “some degenerative decay” in my shoulder. I think he was telling me the same thing my friend had been told.

shoulder sling

I have been in the supermarket checkout line and have someone look at my shoulder and ask, “Rotator cuff?” When I reply in the affirmative I have heard many different scenarios based on the experience of other folks. Most of them have been horror stories. How terrible the surgery is, how long it takes to recover, and how much pain is to be expected. I have been told more than once that “you will never be 100% again.”

I had no idea that so many people had suffered a torn rotator cuff. In fact, it seems that those who have not are in the minority. Many well-meaning suggestions have been offered and some of them have been helpful. Others not so much so.

Four weeks after surgery and several times with a physical terrorist therapist I have increased the range of motion and look forward to beginning strengthening exercises after the shoulder repair has healed.

All things considered, it has been an interesting experience. I appreciate the genuine concern and empathy offered by strangers as well as close friends and acquaintances. Folks have been very helpful when they realize that some things take two hand/arms. Deference to one who has only “one good arm” has been welcomed at times and irritating at other times.

Another result of this injury is the awareness of how much I take for granted. Simple everyday functions are affected when one limb is weak. The discomfort from the shoulder makes it difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep. It is awkward at times to maintain balance and there are other irritating effects. I am fortunate that the injured shoulder is not my dominant one. Since I am right handed, it would have been much worse if I had fallen and hurt the right shoulder.

Ludlow Porch

Ludlow Porch (his real name was Bobby Crawford Hanson) was a southern humorist who hosted a radio show in Atlanta for many years. He was not the kind of talk show hosts that is most prominent today. He made people laugh with his spoofs and conversations with his regular “Wackos.” He would frequently refer to some experiences as “gnat bites.” They would not kill you but they were very irritating.

In the grand scheme of things this is just an inconvenience. It is not life threatening. I am not totally incapacitated. I am not in excruciating pain. This is just a gnat bite.

Jamie Jenkins