Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Uh-oh ... My Arm is on the Fritz!

At the end of October, my family and I went and did the responsible thing: we got flu shots.  The baby girls were able to go to our pediatrician's office where Ashley lucked out and got to do the nasal squirt/mist thing.  She said it smelled like chocolate ... cool!  Brett, the older kids and I went to Brett's work during one of those flu clinics.  Aaron volunteered to be the brave guy and go first.  Norah was trepidatious, but was willing to sit on my lap while the nurse administered the shot (no screaming, this year ... boo-yeah!)  I was big and brave and didn't cry either.

Now, I know that there is the typical soreness following a shot, so I was okay when I felt achy and tender for the first few days following our appointment.  A week later, however, I was still hurting ... maybe more than was normal.  I cautiously asked the kids, "Hey ... how's your arm feeling?" (not wanting to stir up any phantom pains!) and received the same responses ... "Fine."  Hmmmm .... I guess that's good.

By the following week, my arm was definitely worse and I finally mentioned something to Brett.

"Uh ... does your arm still hurt?  Ya know, from the shot?"

"No.  Does yours?"

"Well ... yeah.  Quite a bit, actually."

We decided I should take some Tylenol and keep moving it.  Maybe it was really bruised down deep.

By week three, we started getting a little concerned.  I had trouble lifting my arm above my belly-button without pain.  Once I got my had above my head, I almost had to just let it drop to my side.  There was no way to lower it slowly without a sharp pain.  I figured out little ways to compensate for my lame left arm and figured it would have to get better eventually.

Then one morning, I woke up from a dreadful night's sleep and just cried.  Poor Brett!  It all came spilling out:

It hurt all the time.

I couldn't find a comfortable position to sleep in.

It was so weak and painful, I couldn't pull my covers up.

I was tired of having to lay my arms on my bed and wriggle my way into my clothes since I couldn't lift my shirt over my head.  (There's a picture!)

I had to quit during the first 2 minutes of my work-out because I couldn't do any of the moves.

Washing my hair in the shower was an ordeal.

Yuck.  Blurg.  Crumb.

It was at this point that I finally decided to go see my doctor, but I was anxious that she wouldn't have any way to help me.  It sounded so bizarre, "My flu shot made my arm go 'Sproing!'"

Fortunately, my doctor did have an explanation for my pain.  Apparently, the shot was administered a bit too high and actually caused tendonitis in my shoulder.  Oops.  Try to do the "right thing" and get stuck with a zinger like that! :)  Her prescription for my arm:  Ibuprofen, heat and keep it moving ... lest it develop to "frozen shoulder".  Ugh.

I'm happy to report that as of today, my arm is significantly better.  I have a much broader range of motion - whew!  On the whole, I have less pain - yeah!  And I can get dressed all by myself ... without having to prop my upper body up on the bathroom counter - yahoo!

Now why am I sharing such a ridiculous story with you?  No, I'm not throwing myself a pity party.  :)

During this time of faulty functioning in my arm, I got a little insight into the wise way that God had put my body together and how wonky things got when some part of me was out of whack.  My body compensated for this lousy left limb, but at a bit of a cost to the rest of me.  I found that I had a crick in my neck from trying to heft my arm above my head.  I began to experience some upper back pain from trying to do everything with my right arm.  My left shoulder was tight and developed a bit of a knot in the muscle from trying to will my arm up without actually using my arm.  Wonky and weird.  Not how God intended me to function.

But that wasn't my only insight.  There's more ...

I think this fritzy arm also translates over, in a broader sense, to the plan that God has for us as individuals.  There is a passage in the Bible that talks about each of us being created for a purpose.  (Here is the text for you to see for yourself!)  Each of us is given a job, a role in life.  Much like the eye is made to see and the nose to smell (and the arm to lift things!), we each have been made with gifts and abilities and purposes.  All given by God.  All given for us to use fully and properly.

It is a blessing to us and to others when we live out our lives in the way God intended us to.  And, conversely, we all suffer when we don't live up to the plans and desires God has for us.  Also, if we choose instead to try to be someone else in place of the individual that God designed, we are destined for trouble.

I see this played out most frequently in the relationship arena: when wives try to fill the role of husbands, when husbands let their wives fill their God-given role, when parents yield their role of authority over their children in a desire instead to be friends, and when kids are forced/allowed make decisions for themselves that should made with the shared wisdom of a loving parent.

God has a plan for how our families can function.  A plan that works well, if only we will give it a try.  It goes against most of the current trends in parenting and marriage ... but I think that is actually a good thing considering the current status of families and marriage.  I think there just might be a connection there. :)

In Ephesians 5:21-6:4, God gives us a beautiful snapshot of His intended roles for marriage and family.  It's a very basic blueprint, easy to follow and all founded on love and respect.  What's not to like about that?!?

I would challenge you to study it for  yourself, but here is the simple breakdown of roles:

Wives:  Respect your husbands.  Let them lead you.
No nagging, guilt trips, or vying for King of the Mountain.

Husbands:  Love your wives.  Lead with love and tenderness.
No shirking duties or selfish decisions ... this is not a dictatorship.

Children:  Honor and obey your parents.  This is the right thing to do.
No bad-mouthing Dad & Mom, being sneaky or trying to be too big too fast.

Parents:  Don't exasperate your kids.  Train them up using God's instructions.
No need to be their buddy, be the boss ... 
seek God for wisdom in how to do it right.

When we follow God's lead here ... live out our roles as God intended them to be lived out ... we will be blessed.  We won't be trouble free, but we will be within the boundaries God has set up for us and that is a good place to be.

I'm glad that my arm went on the fritz ... well, sort of.  It has opened my eyes to see the perfect and deliberate nature of God.  He has knit me together to function in a precise way:  my body; my gifts and abilities; and my role as a wife, mom and daughter have all been given to me to be played out in my life with purpose.

God's plan is the best plan.  He doesn't intend for me to be the head of my household ... that's Brett's job.  In the same way, He doesn't intend for me to rest my elbow on the bathroom counter to curl my hair ... that's my arm's job! :)

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