Friday, January 25, 2008

Use It or Lose It

File this one under "you don't appreciate what you've got until you lose it."

I graduated from physical therapy yesterday, but I'm still getting "it" back. The "it" in question was my ponytail, something I'd totally taken for granted until September 29 when I took at header at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport and smashed my shoulder to pieces.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, I had a plate and many, many screws put in before I could come home to Massachusetts. I've been in physical therapy since. That therapy has required enough pain that I would leave the session with a bright red face and teeth marks in my tongue.

I was declared "graduated" because I have become proficient enough in administering my own pain to progress at home. Two hours a day, I listen to sports talk radio and scream. Given that, in the time I've been doing this, the Red Sox have won the World Series and the Patriots are heading for the Super Bowl, you may rest assured that my screaming (and cursing) are because of the pain and not celebration--though in my case, one could argue they are synonymous.

When I came home from Dallas, I required neither a cast nor a sling because of the hardware in my arm. My arm, however, hung like a swollen, dead fish at my side. I could move my fingers but little else. My early goal in therapy was to be able to rest my arm on the table long enough to type. This took almost a month.

My ultimate goal in therapy is to get my ponytail back. I still cannot easily raise my left hand to the crown of my head, and I certainly struggle to hold it higher than my shoulder for the period of time it takes to pull my hair through a scrunchie. Today I bit the bullet (or would have, if I had one), bent my face to my lap, and tried my best to get a ponytail in. As you can see by my self-portrait, I did it, though not without a couple of karate yelps.

Though my ponytail is far from perfect, I got what I wanted.

God, being ever so much wiser, may desire something else.

Earlier in the day, I had knelt at the door for a moment of prayer. I began to sing and, as with so many songs, needed to lift my hands. My right arm shot up but my left arm creaked and chugged its way heavenward, pain surging as I stretched and stretched. And I was struck by two thoughts.
The first don't appreciate what you've got until you lose it. Before my accident, I wouldn't have thought twice about raising my arms--though perhaps more too often to cheer the Sox than to cheer our God.

The other thought is this: how often do I take the privilege of prayer and worship for granted? If it is too often, then stretching heavenward will become painful, perhaps to the point of almost impossible.

Use it or lose it.


Elsi Dodge said...

Oh, I'm so sorry your pain is so extreme! I live with pain much of the time, but nowhere near your level. I choose to raise my hands in praise, knowing my shoulders will protest. Occasionally I will kneel to pray, in spite of the shooting pains in my knee.

Hardest for me, though, is what lifting open hands and/or kneeling does to my spirit. Almost always I am brought close to tears, and far too often I find myself in tears, from the symbolism of bent knee and open, accepting hands. Crying is so dangerous (in my mind) that it takes a conscious act of will for me to go there.

So no, I don't really understand your agony. But maybe I'm a little bit, just a little, near the edge of it? Keep on praising, woman!

Mike Dellosso said...

Congratulations on "graduating" from PT and conquering Mt. Ponytail! I know that's a big accomplishment. Independence is a wonderful thing. I'm so happy for you, Kathy.