For the last four weeks, our family has been counting down the days to June 19. The rest of our life felt like it was on hold as we waited for this one day to arrive.
My husband has been working his tail off — actually his arm off — in preparation for his four-month follow-up visit with the surgeon who worked on his shoulder back on March 8. After that gloomy visit with predictions of a second surgery, I have to admit we were expecting the worst.
We had gone through the four stages of grief as we thought about what it would mean to go back into the operating room for a second time, and we were starting to set up a tent in “acceptance.”
As I mentioned in my last post about this, my husband has regained a lot of movement in his right arm since the surgery. But he has one motion that is still only at about 65 percent of its range of motion. Our lives have revolved around physical therapy appointments four days a week, often 2.5 hours long right after his work day, as well as putting on his stretching contraption three times a day to slowly pull his arm and hold it in place 30 minutes at a time.
We resigned ourselves to no vacation this summer since we would need all of his remaining vacation days to recover from a potential surgery. Three of his therapists had a big debate Monday night about what would be his best course of action. He seems to be an anomaly even in their eyes, or at least some kind of fascinating case for someone’s future thesis, because of his inability to regain his full movement despite how hard he has worked the last four months.
Is it a scar tissue problem?
Did this all actually start 20 years ago after a bad car accident he had?
Could the problem have been building even before that? A bad football injury in high school? Hundreds of repetitive shoulder movements throwing a baseball during Little League?
An excruciatingly painful “dry needle” treatment last week seemed to show that the muscle in his arm was balled up so tight that it had basically stopped working since the injury seven months ago that sent him to the doctor.
Anyway, even the doctor said he was expecting the worst when he saw my husband’s name on the patient list Tuesday.
I was in a different meeting during the appointment, but wanted to jump out of my seat when Capable Dad sent me this text:
“The end is near.”
Could it be? The doctor was actually happy with his progress! He was NOT recommending a second surgery!
We couldn’t believe it! We are so thankful to the many, many people who have prayed for him the past four weeks and the past seven months. This truly was not the result we expected, so we know God has been working!
The plan now is to continue his therapy at home, but reduce his visits to the PT office to twice a week for about six more weeks. Even though he still has limited range of motion in one area, he seems to be regaining a lot of flexibility and strength in the other directions. The doctor will check him again in six weeks, but he was pleasantly surprised with his progress.
Most people don’t regain much more movement after the four-month mark. If that were the case, he might never regain his golf swing. Might not ever be able to pitch a baseball. He would be limited in his ability to shoots hoops with the boys.
Our prayer now is that he will regain that movement. Although those things are all very minor in the whole scheme of life, they are all things that he enjoys. And God has showed us that he can continue to work in ways that seem medically improbable.
It’s crazy when I stop to think that this whole journey began seven months ago when we were working on rearranging our basement to clean out a ton of junk and make a nice space for our 11-year-old to hang out. My husband was carrying an armload of big work manuals when he tripped and the books jammed into his shoulder.
During the last two weeks, I have spent most of my free time back in the basement working on that long-lost project. I have been clearing out junk, cleaning and painting. Last night, my husband joined me in the basement to help me put together some storage units as I FINALLY finished up the project.
For the first time in many months, he held a power tool in his right hand and helped me put together some shelves. It was something I had seen him do many, many times during our marriage. And yet this time it was so special.
We had come full circle. We could see life returning to how it used to be.
It’s been a long journey. But for the first time we could say it: The end is near.