Well, here we are in the middle of the first new week of 2022. As I look outside my home office window, I see the third blizzard in this past week raging outside. We won’t be bringing in the Christmas decorations, since with a drift that is as tall as Cheri runs between the driveway and the little white Christmas trees, we really can’t get to them anyway. We did pull down the wreaths on the garage last night, in preparation for this newest storm, but they are currently sitting on the floor of the garage, covered in snow, and of course, not melting, since the garage could now serve as our giant walk-in freezer, with the temperature hovering around zero – inside the garage. Outside, it’s currently -7, with a wind chill at -35. It truly is winter in the Northland.
While we look out at the totally white landscape, and plan our drives to make sure we can push through the drifts in the driveway, I realize there are other storms on the horizon in my own life. Since late October, I continue to deal with a significantly low hemoglobin count, which the doctors believe must mean that somewhere inside of me, my blood has decided to leak. The result right now of that means that it doesn’t take much for me to just run out of gas when I am working on a project even as simple as taking the ornaments off the tree after Christmas. I have taken more naps, and longer naps, than I think I did when I was a toddler – last night I slept nine hours, and am looking forward to this afternoon as another sleep opportunity. That’s not normal, of course, and so this Friday, courtesy of my newly minted Medicare card, the medical folks have decided to treat me to a double feature endoscopy and colonoscopy. How thrilling! They of course promise that I will be out for the entire procedure, which is absolutely perfect for me. I expect they will drive a golden spike as they meet in the middle to commemorate the work. My real hope is that they will locate what is going on, fix it, and that’s the end of that issue. As I have mentioned before, I have no joy in spending time in the medical world. I am a very private person, and so physically the best part of any time spent there is when I am walking out quickly, knowing that I don’t have to return for a long time.
And so, adding to the festivities while I was finding out this first plan, my right shoulder began offering me a free “pain-fest,” bringing me a huge discomfort, to say the least. I went in to see what was wrong, and after three different levels of x-rays and scans – and loads of money – they came to the conclusion that I have also managed to tear my rotator cuff. The only thing I can figure out was way back in about 2013, as I went to throw the trash out at the dumpster near Cheri’s townhouse where she was living at the time, I hit a patch of black ice, and immediately hit the concrete with my right elbow. I have really strong bones – never have broken anything – so that strong upper arm – humerus – jammed straight up from my elbow to my shoulder, and the little organic rubber band that holds the shoulder in place tore. A lot. Yes, you can do the math and realize we are now working on nine years since that happened, and so it doesn’t repair itself, and has been sore for a long time, but now has become a burden to that side of the body. Being left-handed, I am once again reminded of how much we all live in a right-handed world, because it’s amazing how many things require the use of your right arm for reaching and twisting and stretching. All those actions, when you rotator cuff is torn, become a reenactment of the Spanish Inquisition. In short, their plan is to knock me out – again – and “fix” the shoulder.
Here’s the thing: they can’t fix the shoulder until they figure out about my blood. They waited for about eight weeks to do the procedures they are going to do this week, and then wait another two weeks until they can repair the shoulder. So, to recap – two Fridays ago was Christmas Eve. Last Friday was New Years Eve. This Friday – two days from now – they will go exploring all inside of me, and then next Friday is my birthday! The following Friday, they will do the shoulder surgery, which will mean 4-6 weeks without the use of my right shoulder at all, and then a ton of physical therapy (translation: tons of pain), with the hopes that by probably June, I will fit as a fiddle.
Now, I have already told you more about me physically than I ever cared to, or plan to again. First, I hate to share that, and second, I really can’t imagine you are all that interested in my organ recital. But I hope it explains the huge gap that has existed in my writing to you. Even this little bit of writing, with my right shoulder and arm pinned against my side, means that I’ll be taking an Advil when I get done.
The greater and more profound reality for me in all of this, is coming to accept the fact that after spending 65 years with not much of anything bothering me, except for some nuisance things that require some pills and better diet, I’m at the point for that “150,000 mile checkup,” and I’ll be in the shop for a bit to rebuild and renew a few significant parts of the body. I utterly hate it, but we are past that point, so I guess it’s off to see the wizard, and throw the bucket of water on the witch, and get on to the health and long life that I truly need to claim.
I thank you for your prayer, and your thoughts of me. It’s not all about me, but for now, I’m what I am thinking about, I guess. I hold on to the song, “In Christ Alone.” Keith Getty wrote profound lyrics. The third stanza especially captures me:
No guilt in life, no fear in death – this is the power of Christ in me!
From life’s first cry to final breath – Jesus commands my destiny.
Blessings in this new year – and I’ll try to stay in touch.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.