Merry Christmas To All
There is so much I've wished to write about in the last month or so - including my contribution to Tom's marriage prep - but at the end of a day at the computer programming away, I just haven't gotten to it. Normally after writing code all day, I would look forward to spending some time creating something that involves complete sentences, but there has been something making normal activities somewhat difficult.
My Mystery Injury
In the first half of September, I started to experience pain along the left side of my neck from the ear down to the shoulder. The pain spread very quickly to underneath the collarbone, and my left pectoral muscle (the chest) became strained. I stopped working out and arranged the first of what has now been 3 visits to Plano Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic. I have done physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic therapy, and I even gave acupuncture a try (and I hate needles). After all this, all that has been determined is what it is not:
a) It Is Not A Shoulder Injury - Thank God. It's funny - I can bench press without pain, but doing flys or cable presses produces a sharp pain underneath the collarbone from where the collarbone attaches to the sternum to about halfway toward the shoulder.
b) It Is Not A Spinal Injury - X-Rays and an MRI confirm this.
c) It Is Not Thorassic Outlet Syndrome - There is no pain or numbness in my arms.
The pain has not gotten any better. In fact, the right neck/collarbone/upper pectoral has begun to hurt in the same manner. It hurts to move my shoulders forward. Hell, it hurts to sit still. I have pretty much been in constant pain for a couple of months now.
So what's the current diagnosis? Right now, the major pain areas are in the scalene muscles (neck) above the collarbone and (it is currently hypothesized) the subclavius muscles (beneath the pectorals, running between the shoulder and sternum underneath the collarbone). The orthopedic guys have referred me to a doctor who has treated Thorassic Outlet Syndrome before (though the injury is not T.O.S., she has experience with the muscles, ligaments, and joints in that area) whom I will see in January. I continue to go a massage therapist to try to loosen up my extremely tight neck and chest muscles. I'm taking some perscribed anti-inflammatories too.
I've been praying, too, but.....things are different this time around. In my previous injuries - I've had 4 shoulder surgeries and one partially torn tricep - I've prayed for healing, and that was about it. However, this time I was struggling to do so, admittedly due to a lack of faith that God would help me. It just seemed so pointless: I get hurt, I pray for healing, healing comes sooner or later, and I go on until the next injury. I was having a hard time getting motivated to go through this "cycle" again.
Saturday I visited the Blessed Sacrament, and ran into a young lady I've seen there before. Her name is Katie, and she's a high school senior who is going to enter a convent in Arlington, TX after she graduates. She and I had talked a couple of weeks earlier about how we talk to God, and she was both suprised and amused by how informal I talk to the Almighty, and even complain bitterly at times.
Me: "I let Him know what's on my mind."
Her: "What does He say back?"
Me: "He lets me know what's on His. A while back, I was really frustrated and I said to Him 'You know, You're a real pain in the ass.'"
Her: "What did He say back?"
Me: "He said 'Funny, I was thinking the same thing about you.'"
This Saturday, I mentioned how I was frustrated at my persistent injury and constant pain. Her view? "Maybe God wants you to offer this pain up to Him, for souls in purgatory."
Now, being a child of the '70's, and therefore part of the worst catechized generation in history, my understanding of how this whole purgatory thing works is a little hazy. I mean, I believe (Hell, I know) that there is one, and thank Almighty God for that. I also believe that you can pray for the souls there, and it helps them somehow (you can see the haziness creeping in here). I don't have any problem with indulgences, either; my sister (masters degree in theology) explained the concept and it made sense, and even the World Book Encyclopedia, in it's entry about the Reformation, stated "The theology behind indulgences is sound." However, the idea that my earthly suffering could be offered up to God for souls in purgatory was a new one to me.
While at mass on Sunday, my prayer in regards to my injury had become this:
God, please make this mean something. Whether to help souls in purgatory, or to help in purification of my own, or whatever else.....just, please, take it and make it worth something. I still hope for healing, but in the meantime, please make it valuable....
Thus concludes my personal insight for the holiday season. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. In reparation for making you read all of the above before getting your "Merry Christmas", I offer you this. It takes a little time to load, but be patient - it's worth it.