God’s timing is perfect. I keep forgetting that. Patience is not a virtue I come by naturally.
Almost a year ago, pain in my left shoulder and arm sent me to my new primary physician for a solution. As a short term fix, she gave me a shot of cortisone in my shoulder. All seemed well. I was happily in less pain and went about my usual sedentary winter existence.
Fast forward to late January, and the pain returned. My new doc was on vacation so I saw another doctor in the clinic. Somehow we came to the conclusion that the pain in my shoulder and arm was referred pain from a long-standing problem of osteoarthritis in my neck. So off I went to my pain specialist who gave me not one, but two, epidural cortisone shots in my neck.
My neck now felt great, but there was no improvement in my shoulder and arm. And my range of motion was decreasing. Cortisone directly into the shoulder was, however, not an option because of the two epidurals. My primary doc sent me off the physical therapy. Skepticism didn’t keep me from being a compliant PT patient.
The physical therapist measured my range of motion at the first appointment. After three weeks of me consistently doing the exercises she prescribed, I suggested she measure again—as I suspected, my range of motion had decreased. The pain had increased. Still I continued to do the exercises as instructed. At weeks seven, measurements revealed an even greater decrease in my range of motion.
The next step was imaging—first x-rays and then MRI. The latter revealed, in my primary doc’s words, “multiple tears to tendons in my shoulder.” She referred me to a surgeon.
When I called to make the appointment with the surgeon, the soonest I could get in was three weeks out. I asked to be put on the waiting list in case of a cancellation, and the scheduler said she would. I then sent an email to my church prayer-chain coordinator. My specific prayer request was that there would be a cancellation and I would be able to get in sooner to see the surgeon.
If I had to have surgery, I wanted to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. My husband had rotator cuff surgery two years ago, and I knew how long the recovery process took. I had things planned for the fall and winter that were in serious jeopardy of having to be cancelled if I didn’t get into surgery soon.
The day of the scheduled appointment finally arrived and I was a little annoyed that God had not answered my prayer. It was a Tuesday—last Tuesday, to be specific. And during the appointment I endured excruciating pain as the physician’s assistant tested the limits of my range of motion, trying to determine if she could make my arm go where I could not.
The diagnosis was adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder. The tears to my various tendons were minor and not the source of my pain, the surgeon declared when I asked. The treatment for frozen shoulder is a procedure called manipulation under anesthesia. No actual surgery will be required.
Basically, they’ll put me under general anesthesia plus a block and then move my arm all the ways it won’t go, thus breaking up the scar tissue that’s impeding my range of motion. The surgeon said it sounds a bit like unsticking velcro. Thankfully I’ll be asleep and won’t have to hear it for feel it.
Then I have to start PT the day after the procedure and continue for four to six weeks. But by week two, the surgeon assured me, I should have 90% of my range of motion back.
“I like to do these on Monday,” the surgeon said.
“I’m available next Monday,” I replied, not thinking that would ever work out. But at least there was relief in sight.
I next met with the scheduler to find out which Monday would work.
Now for God’s perfect timing. I was able to get into a pre-op appointment two days after the consultation appointment and there was an opening on the surgeon’s Monday schedule the very next Monday. (As I write this, that’s tomorrow).
The surgeon wants me to start PT on Tuesday. If you have ever tried to schedule PT on that short of notice, you know it’s not easy to do. But because of a cancellation—yes, a cancellation—there was one PT appointment available on Tuesday at the clinic I need to go to.
None of this will interfere with the two big things I have planned over the next two months. I’ll be able to teach the poetry workshop I committed to on Oct. 12 at the Oregon Christian Writers One-Day Conference. And I’ll have finished my six weeks of PT the Friday before our two-week trip to Hawaii in November, where I’ll be in good enough shape to snorkel.
In retrospect, I don’t know why I spent so much time worrying about the impact of a surgery I wasn’t even sure I needed would have on my plans. I don’t know why I doubted God’s timing for my appointments, thinking I needed to get into the surgeon sooner.
God has a plan and a timetable for everything. Someday I’ll learn to go with the flow and trust. Maybe someday Jesus will no longer have to say, “You of little faith . . . why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31 NIV.