A Thorn in My Side…
Two years ago tonight, I was helping my brother, Doug, prepare an apartment for Ken, our youngest brother, in anticipation of moving him from his home to a place that would be easier to maintain. Doug had been out shopping and had purchased Ken a new mattress and box spring, as well as other furniture items to help make the new place feel like home.
Doug and I were trying to get the place all fixed up so Ken wouldn’t have anything to worry about when we moved him in. We even had cable, televisions, food in the fridge and everything else that would make the place feel more comfortable from day one.
Doug and I assembled the new frame, box spring and mattress in the bedroom and then I decided to remove the plastic wrap and take it to the trash bin a short walk across the complex. The next thing I remembered, I was on the ground, looking up at the sky and wondering why I was in so much pain. I noticed that my right leg was at an odd angle and I slowly reached down to move it back to where it should be…
I hurt, bad — no, make that very bad… An older man saw me on the ground and I asked him to get Doug. He complied and soon Doug was at my side, trying to discern what had happened. To this day, I don’t know if I didn’t see the curb next to the dumpster or whether I slid and fell on the plastic wrap that I was dragging to the trash. In any event, it wasn’t good; and more than thirty minutes later, Doug managed to get me up and into his car.
We drove back to his office, where my car was parked, and then I gingerly got into my own vehicle and drove the thirty miles back to his house. To this moment, I don’t know how I did it… I slept on his sofa that evening and actually went to teach a team at the local hospital the next morning – with a cane and holding my bandaged leg as straight as I could. Finally, an orthopedic surgeon friend of Doug’s came in to see me – then sent me for x-rays and a scan. The bottom line – I had ruptured my right quad tendon – a very serious injury that is almost impossible to do unless you are a professional athlete – and I am certainly not one of those! Even then, it’s rather rare.
I was sent home with a disk of the findings and rode back to Carmel with our son, Andrew, who was kind enough to come and pick me up in Illinois. I’ll spare you all the details, but I had surgery on May 2nd to repair the severed tendon and then began a very long recovery. I was in a leg brace for more than thirteen weeks and started physical therapy within several days post surgery.
The surgeon told me that the operation was the easy part – PT would be where the battle would be won or lost. I was diligent and therapy was very tough. It was clear that even after a year, things were not back to normal. And for those of us in our sixties, recovery can take up to two years before there is a “new” normal and recovery is considered complete.
I can tell that I am getting stronger – and I can now walk down the stairs without holding on to the railing. I am still a little tentative and don’t yet fully trust that I won’t fall but I am still making progress. Clearly, I won’t ever be as mobile or strong as I was before the accident. And that’s okay. I am so glad that I am as good as I am though, when I am tired, I limp a little – but things could be a whole lot worse.
Two years to get to this point and I still hope to make a little more progress. These days, I can’t help but be reminded of the apostle Paul and his comments regarding the thorn in his flesh and how God used it as a reminder. Tonight’s verse comes from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians and the exchange that he had with God regarding his own infirmity. By the way, Paul never revealed what his “thorn” was.
He tells us, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “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.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to focus on Him, especially during times of trials and tribulations. Many of us are undergoing extreme trials right now – with the coronavirus and also other health issues, financial concerns, fear and worry about the future. In a way, we all have our own thorns…
My prayer tonight is that we will trust God to help get us through these times of our lives. I never lost hope that I would recover, but it never occurred to me that it would really take two years… it did… and now that I am at the second anniversary of my injury, I see God’s hand all over me during my recovery. Through faith in God, doctors and friends, I was able to persevere. Take heart, stay optimistic and depend on our Lord. He won’t disappoint. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace….