Together in Spirit

Browsing From the Desk of Fr. Mike

Upcoming Shoulder Surgery

I am amazed at the growing physical limitations I am experiencing with the arthritis in my shoulders. Even before I became pastor at St. Joe’s I was beginning to experience weird noises as I moved my arms, especially as I combed my hair or attempted to put anything above my head. There would be cracking and grinding and popping noises. Two years ago I told my doctor that I was having some problems with what I suspected was arthritis in my shoulders, but it was not serious enough to deal with it. A year later I went back to the doctor to say that it was time to deal with the arthritis, the pain was becoming unmanageable. (Actually I have discovered that it isn’t the pain, it is the incapacity that is most unmanageable).  X-Rays were taken and just as I thought both of my shoulders exhibited signs of osteoarthritis. There is a severe lack of cartilage in both shoulder joints and there are bone spurs growing on the scapular bones. I was given cortisone shots in both shoulders, though the doctor said that the space within the joint is very narrow and hard to penetrate. The shots provided little to no relief. 

You may notice as I greet you coming into church that I do not reach my hand out to you like I used to, as my arm doesn’t move that far anymore. I do move my left arm better than my right, but not by much. I recently had a little guy grab my right hand and give me a very robust shake. In my younger years I would have congratulated him on his strong grip and healthy shake, instead I bit my tongue and tried not to cry out in pain.  I think I grimaced a bit and still complimented him on his strength. I also need people to assist me with dressing in my vestments before Mass. (Who would have thought putting a piece of cloth over my head would prove to be difficult.)  I cannot raise my right hand above my head to give you a blessing at the end of Mass (and I find it difficult to make the sign of the cross for myself at the beginning of Mass). Even driving my car (and cart) is becoming more challenging as each bump in the road causes my shoulders to shift and produce pain.

I say all this not asking for pity but instead asking for understanding if you are not experiencing my reaching out to you physically as I used to. My first shoulder replacement (the right shoulder) is scheduled for the end of July. I have not even begun to talk about scheduling the left shoulder, but I suspect if all goes well that will take place before next summer. I am not sure what the recovery looks like for timing, but from what I am hearing by those of you who have had this procedure it should go well and I should be back up and running (well, walking at least) within a few weeks after surgery. I have been told  by most recovering persons “do your therapy like it is your job” This is my plan as I ponder the weeks ahead. Keep me in your prayers.


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