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My Life with a Broken Wing

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For the last couple of months, I had been experiencing shoulder pain in my right arm.  I was trying to play through the pain, continuing to be out on the tennis court as well as lifting weights.  And I was playing some of my best tennis.

Until I wasn’t.  I woke up early Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago after a good USTA match on Saturday, and the pain in my right shoulder was so intense I felt like I was being stabbed.  I couldn’t even lift my arm to brush my teeth. 

Since I’m right-handed, this was a serious thing.  For those of us who are not very coordinated with their nondominant hand, even the simplest of tasks can be difficult to perform.  Brushing hair. Wiping. Getting dressed. Petting my dog. Blowing my nose.

Drugs.  I needed drugs, or a shot, or something. So, I called the doctor’s office and got in that day.   The X-rays were fine.  The joint looked good.  And I was diagnosed with something called “frozen shoulder.” 

I couldn’t move my arm a mere two inches backward or forward.  So off to physical therapy (PT) I went.  No shot. No drugs. Just someone to inflict more pain.

It’s been more than two weeks since I started PT.  I feel like a bird with a broken wing who can no longer fly, leaving way too much time on my hands.  After all, PT is just an hour three times a week.  What was I to do with all the extra hours? 

After calling my team captains and all my regular tennis buddies to cancel matches, a bit of depression set in.  I’m not good at being a hurt person or being sidelined.  It’s a harsh reality.  I had to find new ways to fill my time. 

I tried biking but holding my arm at an angle to grip the handlebars hurt.  I tried jogging, but it jarred the knifing sensation in my shoulder.  That left me with walking.  And when I walk, I think…way too much.

I’ve worn my big, black, furry Goldendoodle out on these hot days taking treks of five miles or more.  I’ve worn my mind out thinking about how I can get back from my injury quicker.  In the end, all I came up with were platitudes about life.  So, in my misery I thought I’d torture you, my friends and readers, with them.

The philosophy of being sidelined

First, I was trying my best to feel grateful that I only had a shoulder injury.  There are so many things that can “sideline” us in life.  Mine was relatively innocuous. 

I thought of all the other things that have kept some of my friends out of the game.  Cancer.  Accidents with nerve damage. The unexpected death of a loved one. Operations.

Sometimes life is just like that.  It’s too easy to get sidelined from the game of life.  Depression. Loss of a job. Legal issues. Divorce. Financial problems.  Relationship challenges.  And the list goes on.

When we’re “riding the bench” in life, the “normal” becomes the “abnormal.” We strive to find new meaning and purpose.  The emotional and physical hurdles challenge us as we face a new reality…even if it’s just for a while. 

It’s easy to wonder, “Where is God?” or "Why God?" at times like this.  What is the purpose of this happening?  Unwanted and unplanned circumstances can rock our world. 

Mine, in comparison, seems like a tiny fish in a sea of sharks.  But even the small things can wear on us, trying to rip the joy from our souls.

During this rest of “unrest,” I realize the importance of relationships.  Maybe, just maybe, I needed this time to nurture the relationships in my life.  As I focus on them, I focus less on myself.  And that is a good thing!

So, I reached out to my friend who is going through chemotherapy.  Having gone through it, I can help encourage her through the stages, assuring her she won’t die from nausea.  I can give her the best medicine, laughter. 

I’m catching up with friends who’ve recently had operations.  I’m celebrating the victories of friends.  I’m cherishing the extra time with family. I’m cherishing each and every person who reaches out to me to ask how I’m improving.   It makes my day!

Most of all, I’m deepening my faith as I lean more and more on God to see me through this challenging time.  I read more.  I pray more.  I write more.  Most of all, I remember I am blessed. 

There are times I fail.  There are times I wallow in “PT self-pity” as I sit grounded with a broken wing. But I always return to knowing I am cared for, loved, and I’m important to someone. Even if it’s just my dog.  He doesn’t care if I can fly!  My left-handed attempts at throwing his ball make him just as giddy!

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My puppy and I

Anne Hope is the award-winning author of Bent Pages...a sharp, funny, and deeply inspirational narrative.

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