Saturday, March 10, 2012

Small miracles and unexpected blessings

It feels like I've been trying to get on my blog for weeks to update all that has been happening in our lives. Despite the fact I'm fighting a cold and should go take a nap right now, I'm finally forcing myself to sit down and write about some of the events of the past few days. I don't want to forget the details, and this is the one way I will be able to look back and remember.

Thursday was the day we had been anticipating for months. My husband has been living with some very serious pain in his right shoulder after an accident that actually occurred around Thanksgiving. At first, he tried to ignore the pain, but by the beginning of January, he couldn't take it anymore.

It took several trips to different doctors, X-rays and an MRI to determine that he had torn his labrum, which is the cartilage that attaches the arm to the shoulder. He also tore his rotator cuff, which are the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder.

He was referred to an orthopedic surgeon who handles many injury cases for major sports teams in the Chicago area. We would have to wait more than a month to get in for surgery. We sometimes doubted the decision to stick with this doctor because the wait was so long and he was in so much pain. But that turned out to be one of our first small miracles.

After the surgery on Thursday afternoon, the doctor and his assistant called me from the waiting room to explain what had happened during surgery. After he saw my husband's muscles and injury from the inside, he decided to totally change his plan. The doctor realized that it was going to be very difficult for my husband to regain his range of motion with the original plan to stitch the labrum to the bone.

Instead, he decided to move the tendon that attaches the bicep to the bone. By doing this, the bicep would no longer tug on the torn labrum, causing so much pain.

He also filed away part of the inside of the shoulder bone and a bone spur that had formed. This was all very confusing to me, but he assured me the end result would be a much better recovery. While the other surgery had a very good chance of leaving him stiff and making it difficult to resume his love for biking, this approach should give him the ability to recover completely.

So, we both feel like finding a doctor who could make a call like that during surgery and look out for his best interest and lifestyle was one of our small miracles!

Another small miracles actually came two months before the injury. My husband was offered a new job almost out of the blue. He wasn't looking to switch companies. But we were attracted to the change by two things: better health insurance and a better lifestyle.

At his old company, it would have been very difficult to take the time off that he will need for his recovery. We are also so thankful for much better health insurance that will cover a lot more of his surgery and physical therapy. He is expected to need PT three times a week for three to six months. Looking back at when he started at this new job in October, we would have never imagined how much we would need these benefits!

The last few days have been packed full of unexpected blessings. I've been blown away by all of the people from our church who have been showing up with meals and calling and texting us to see how they can help. I didn't really think I would need much help since I wasn't the one having surgery. But taking care of my husband, as well as our four kids, has been harder than I anticipated. I have been exhausted the past few days. We are so, so thankful for everyone who has helped us in any way.

I could probably go on and on, but I will wrap up by saying our last unexpected blessing has been the gift of laughter. In an odd way, we have really enjoyed the past few days. I have been able to stop thinking about all of my other responsibilities and just focus on my husband and taking care of him.

From the time we went on our "date" to the hospital for surgery, we have been cracking each other up. I hope I will find time to write about some of the funny things that have happened the past few days.

I guess I should mention one other small miracle — that is the miracle of the way God created the human body with the ability to recover from a surgery like this. The doctor is very serious about physical therapy and he scheduled my husband's first session the day after surgery.

It was kind of shocking to think that he could go from having his bicep reattached one day to lifting his arm the next. He has to keep his arm completely immobilized and he is in a ton of pain just normally. We could barely believe that the therapist wanted him to move it all over the place!

The PT is very difficult. It's exhausting for him to sit and lift his arm a few times using a pulley. But it's also amazing to see him regain a little strength.


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