On Friday morning, December 19, 2015 I had surgery for a substantial rotator cuff tear, a bicep tear and a bone spur. I wish I could say that the injuries were from throwing a curve ball the wrong way. According to the doctor, it was plain old “wear and tear.” How noble.
“Right before Christmas?” you exclaim. Yes. We reasoned my husband Dan would be available during the Christmas break to take care of me and our adult daughters would be able to manage Christmas dinner, and it would be easier to rest over the holidays.
As some of you may know me, I had my preparation to do: meals to cook and freeze, things to organize and clean around the house. Most of all I had to practice doing everything with my LEFT hand. I am very right handed.
The morning of surgery arrived. I knew God was with me and many people were praying for me. But I wondered if the surgery was truly necessary. Previous physical therapy did not work, but surgery? As I lay waiting for surgery to take place and my time for the operation came, I heard the doctor discussing the surgery that preceded mine. I couldn’t bear the thought of waiting till someone else’s surgery was completed! Then it realized that my neighbor needed my doctor’s skills too. I prayed for that patient, my doctor and my patience.
My turn came. The anesthesiologist who wheeled me into the operating room was a former tennis partner of Dan’s, and a good man. God was sending the right people. The next thing I knew, Dan was sitting beside me in the recovery room. As best I could, I asked if the surgery was necessary. Most definitely! It was a large tear. I praised God right then. I really did need that surgery. This particular surgery has a recovery period of four to six months with serious physical therapy required. As one friend put it, my job was to work regaining complete strength and mobility.
From that time onward, the Lord clearly showed us his faithful provision, his mercy, and his great care for us through the loving Christian community. God provided the exact things, the exact amounts and the exact timing of whatever we needed. Our physical needs were met with numerous, fabulous meals via a Care Calendar. Many times the people who brought the meals stayed to eat with us, blessing us with sweet fellowship. We were showered with kindness even during the Christmas season when people were busy with their own families. Dan made sure to arrange social times so I would not be lonely. And just when I felt the grocery list was growing, friends called out of the blue to take me on a grocery outing, albeit 5 hours of grocery shopping, but what memories we made. Dan hardly got to exercise his culinary skills. As the time when his very full teaching and traveling schedule resumed and our meals ended, I was capable of doing some simple cooking and housekeeping. God saw us through.
God provided in material ways as well. By having the surgery in December, the cost was met by my deductible. Thank you Lord for health insurance. My surgeon had a skilled assistant who planned my recovery regimen. First I wore “The Sling.” That was some contraption, especially the big foam block in between my body and arm. The Velcro on that thing was scary powerful. It was a humbling experience and made quite a sartorial statement. My pull-up pants and I were buddies for months.
Then I was outfitted with a “Continuous Passive Motion” machine. CPM, also known in the Doriani household as the “Continuous Party Machine.” Oh, yeah! Four hours a day in the machine. Dan can attest that I did it AND did not complain. I am a rule follower. If they say four hours a day, that’s what I do. Strap my arm in, push the buttons for increased mobility each day and watch my arm go up and down. There is only one speed: slow. Eight weeks. But again, God provided this. Not all doctors use this tool. I was very grateful my doctor did. When I finally got to do the physical therapy, I was ahead of the game. I saw people at therapy trying to do exercises one week out of surgery. Ouch. And the left hand practice truly paid off. I ate, typed, wrote, played piano and applied mascara all with my left hand. Not pretty. Not fast. But it was sufficient.
I had a wonderful, demanding therapist half a mile from my house. Of course I made friends with many people there. I even saw some friends I hadn’t seen in years. The party continued. I followed all the directions. Close to the end of my therapy I was faithfully doing 585 repetitions of exercises almost every day. That was God’s strength right there. I might be social but I am not a hardcore exerciser.
Recovery is usually four to six months. I praise God that I was completely discharged from the surgeon and physical therapy at the end of four months. I am happy to be back to housework, gardening, playing the piano, exercising classes and being a Nana.
This is God’s story in my life. He healed me ultimately. And he provided skilled medical people, our loving friends and grace to push through the therapy.
Thank you Lord.
Debbie Doriani is married to Dr. Dan Doriani for 39 years, has 3 grown daughters, 1 son-in-law, and 1 beautiful granddaughter, who all live in St. Louis. She currently teaches piano, cares for her granddaughter, is active with hospitality for Covenant Seminary students, neighbors, friends and family, and enjoys Bible Study, walking, gardening, reading and cooking.
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