A Thorn in My Flesh…
Earlier this week, on Tuesday, April 23rd, I celebrated my first anniversary since I ruptured my right quad tendon while I was on a business trip southwest of Chicago. My brother, Doug, and I were helping our youngest brother, Ken, move into a new apartment and as a part of the process, we bought Ken a new bed, including the box spring and mattress. After we tore off the protective plastic cover and assembled the bed, I dragged the trash out to the dumpster. Somewhere along the line, I must have slipped on the plastic, or missed the curb at the dumpster site, but the next thing I knew I was flat on the ground looking up at a beautiful blue sky.
To be sure, my knee was sore but I didn’t feel any broken bones or see anything that would indicate that I had cut myself, so I just laid there and tried to gather my thoughts while I considered my next move. My watch wasn’t broken, my shirt wasn’t torn and, at worst, I figured that maybe I had sprained my knee. A kind neighbor came out and asked if I was okay – he went and got Doug to come and help me up. That was a much longer process than I thought it would be. Still, I was pleased that I was sure I hadn’t broken a bone or done anything serious.
I finally got into Doug’s car, with his help, and returned to his office where I had parked my car. Eventually, I got back in my own vehicle, drove thirty miles back to Doug’s house and spent the night on the couch while Doug (he’s a doctor) contacted his friends in the emergency room and got instructions for me to get through the night. The next morning, quite sore, I taught a class at the hospital where I coach several teams and one of the orthopedic docs suggested that I get an x-ray to see what we were dealing with. Later in the day, I had to go back and get an MRI after the radiologist, the ortho doc and Doug looked at the initial images from the x-ray.
It wasn’t good news. When I slipped, I tore my tendon from the top edge of my knee cap and I won’t say much more about it except that it was a serious injury. I was given the choice of having surgery there, at that hospital, or returning to Indy where the post op care and physical therapy would be easier with the local surgeon’s team. So… they put a splint on me, our son, Andrew, drove up with a friend to pick up my car – and I returned home – waiting to see the surgeon the next day.
It was an injury that would require surgery, physical therapy and a very long recovery – a year or more. I was diligent about following instructions, went through the surgery nine days later and started PT several weeks after that. It was a long journey and although I can now walk 2-1/2 miles, I’m not back where I was before the accident. It is difficult to walk down an incline, or stairs, and it is clear to me that there is a new normal that I must get used to.
This realization didn’t come to me instantly. But it was a slow process of coming to the conclusion that I don’t heal as fast as I did when I was younger and my stamina isn’t what it used to be. This was probably the most dramatic illustration of aging that I have personally experienced. To be sure, I couldn’t have gone through all the rehab and incapacitation without Janet by my side. In the end, it is what it is – and while some of my movement is limited, I can get by just fine and I am by no means incapacitated.
Paul experienced an issue with his health as well. I really never understood the verse until I walked down this path the past year. And I’m not complaining. I am grateful that it wasn’t worse and that I live in a period of time that this sort of injury could be treated successfully. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he tells us about his own infirmity. Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…”
My encouragement this evening is that things usually happen for a reason and with God, there is usually a lesson involved. My prayer is that we will embrace those things that have occurred in our lives and will try to see the positive aspects of the cards that we have been dealt. In my case, I am much more appreciative of the mobility that I still have and don’t take my health for granted anymore. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…