Thursday, January 28, 2021

Coincidence is God

I bought one of those tear off Inspirational Calendars after Christmas. Words motivate me, and I love sharing them with my like-minded friend Wendy. I sent her this one.

I said my favorite quote of Arnold Schwarzenegger is this though, "The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens." I channel those words when I'm working out and when I'm lifeing and can't give up. I don't want to be the best at anything- but I want to be my best at the things I care most about.

This week I had an appointment with the Physician's Assistant at the orthopedic office I go to for my knees and shoulders. Every year or two I get injections in my knees to temporarily replace the cartilage that I've lost. I try to do it before I'm in pain, because bone scraping on bone is pretty brutal. On appointment day my shoulders were extra achey and I seemed to have an accompanying head ache daily. I wasn't able to reach my arms straight up, so putting shirts on, or reaching in the cabinet for a glass hurt. I got some xrays done, and waited for the PA- let's just call him "Doc." 

I wore jeans to the appointment like a rookie, so got these shorts FOR FREE so I could have xrays done. They were so hilarious and huge that I had to make a "Wear it Three Ways" post for Social Media.

I've seen a few specialists in this building, and left appointments feeling not listened to and frustrated. Waiting until I got into the car to burst into tears. Being in pain, especially for a pridefully independent person is a really scary and vulnerable feeling. Especially when you don't know exactly what is wrong with you or how to fix it.

Every appointment with Doc has been perfect. He always walks into the room with bright eyes and a smile. He reviews his notes and records, asks questions, and really listens to your answers. You can tell his not a one sized fits all guy, and really tailors what he does on the each patient. As soon as he walked into the room my blood pressure dropped, and I knew he could provide some insight on what is wrong, and what we can do for it. As I sat on the paper lined table, I tried to remember just how long it's been that I'd been coming here. I remembered a post I'd written years ago where Doc had written me a prescription that I will never forget. I searched my blog for the post so I could check the date. 

Something told me I should tell him about this. "I write a blog, and I remember writing about seeing you- I just checked the date on something I wrote and it was from June of 2013!" We remarked on the rapid passing of time. "I want to share with you what I wrote- 

"In the treatment room, the walls are covered with pictures of athletes who have been helped. After you fix me- I'm going to give you a picture of me to hang on your wall, I told him. Mom-ing is one of the toughest sports there is... He agreed. See- he's a smart guy.

He came up with a protocol for me- and said - Based on your symptoms and commitment I'm actually really hopeful and optimistic that we will get you feeling better. He said it with such kindness and such honesty in his eyes that I had no choice but to believe him. But just to be safe, I asked him to write me a prescription. 

Hope and Optimism Daily... Unlimited refills..."

 Unexpectedly, my voice started to crack as I read it aloud to him and tears filled my eyes. "Wow, I'm trying not to cry, this is making me emotional," I said. 

I will never forget that Season in life. Within a period of just a few months, my right knee couldn't bend without horrible pain. 

The boys were this age, and this age is HARD, as many you know.

Parker was two, and he was a RUNNER, so me not being able to be a RUNNER was a problem. This was a kid who would dart into busy traffic, so not being able to chase him was a problem. I also had shooting arm pain when I tried to lift my right arm. Also- not an option for a mom who had no sick leave and little ones to lift in and out of carseats and bathtubs. Little ones to rock to sleep at night, and pick up to cuddle in the morning. Parenting was in the thick of being needed for everything. 

I thought about what happened after that appointment. It took trial and error and Physical Therapy and MRI's to finally get to the bottom of it. It wasn't overnight, but it happened.

Because of him, my knees are awesome now. They are super happy and maintained well with their injections. I ended up having arthroscopic surgery on my shoulder for an impingement (it was called a Distal Clavicle Excision if you are into details.) After surgery and some more PT, I was back to fully capable Mom mode. The medical care was invaluable, what was most remarkable about the experience was to know I had someone on my team- someone who knew their shit, was passionate about their job and people and was an optimist. Someone who sat down in the room and made you feel like they weren't going anywhere without a next step and a plan. Someone who treated you like a human and not just a name on a chart. 

That's why my voiced cracked when I was reading the old post to him. Because I know the back story. We sat in silence for a second, even behind his mask I could see him processing. He shared that he was so humbled that he made "a small difference in my life." 

"It wasn't was huge. It IS huge. And I know I'm not the only one. I imagine if you could see a big room filled with the people you've helped- you might be able to grasp what a difference you've made." 

He shared that my words were very meaningful, especially as he transitioned into his next phase of life. He's not retirement age- so I asked what that was going to be. Turns out he's going to help run his family farm that is many miles away. My first thought is- YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME! I WILL FIND YOU. My second thought was- "Wow, that is the coolest and most authentic thing I've ever heard." Most Act Two's in life aren't so completely different that they might not even be the same play. 

I went to my car after my appointment- which was perfect as always. (I got my shoulders injected with some kind of magic potion and each day they feel a little better already.) I read the entire post that I shared with Doc. And my teeth tingled when I saw the quote I shared in this post...

I've had a headache pretty much every day since June of last year. Despite numerous physician visits, physical therapy, Chiropractor visits, injections and lotions and potions we've yet to alleviate the cause. Whatever it is- I've tried it. And now muscle pain has moved into my right shoulder and knee.

I don't talk about it much because when I don't talk about - or think about it- the pain is not as bad really. I can deal. Today I had a follow up appointment at the orthopedic office- and I was forced to think and talk about it. And as I was talking to the Doctor my eyes welled up with tears and then over-flowed. I realized- it's not the pain that makes me cry. It's the what if this pain never goes away thoughts. But the pain always goes away- doesn't it? Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes it takes a year, maybe even longer. And sometimes you just have to find a place to put the pain while simultaneously creating extra joy to counteract the pain's power.

Arnold Schwarzenegger said, The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens.

And I am a champion- so I will go through the pain no matter what in order to get out on the other side. I need to continue to work at healing myself with passion. 


I felt God in the car with me. Life isn't random. Pain isn't random or without purpose. And Coincidences aren't coincidences at all- they are God, reminding us he's always here. 

(And to the amazing, Greg Mellor PA in Fresno at Sierra Pacific Orthopedic Group- I hope these words find their way to you. Thank you for sharing your talents with me and the world.)

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