Continuing My Comeback

Tee shirt — with the mantra I composed and my initials on my right shoulder—that I had made when I began my physical therapy.

If a couple conceived a baby on the day I underwent what my surgeon and physical therapist both called “massive” rotator cuff surgery, the baby would be due today. 

Nine months after the operation, which was followed by six months of three times a week physical therapy, I am on the way back to normal. It feels wonderful.

Of course, I still have a ways to go.

My left arm is still much stronger than my dominant right arm, and I am still very careful not to do too much. I am grateful that I only have occasional pain, and I am playing tennis two or three times a week.

Well, I am not really playing because I don’t serve and don’t hit overheads. I am waiting until I cross the one-year border before I do those things. Besides my wife would kill me if I did.

But I have put myself through several of (Beachview Tennis Club Pro) Toni Halski’s Tough Love Clinics with some of Sanibel’s better players, and I am able to keep up with the rapid pace and hold my own.  I also work with the ball machine, so I am getting a lot of reps in and, stroke-wise, I am pretty much back at the level I was before the operation.

Despite lots of gym work, I still need to improve my stamina and strength.

The real revelation of getting back to tennis is in how much joy I derive from it.

I am 73 years old, and I still get excited about being out on the court the next day. I spent many months waiting until I could do that.

On another note, my last Shabbat service for this season on Sanibel is tonight, and tomorrow, I leave for Israel where Pastor John Danner and I are leading a ten-day trip for members of both of our congregations. 

Then Vickie and I will fly to Germany for five weeks. There we will teach about the Holocaust in schools, and I will speak and teach in synagogues and churches. I will bring my bands with me to continue to strengthen my arm.

My surgeon, Dr. Thomas Dugdale, was very frank with me. “This is a fragile operation, and it could break down.”

That awareness is always in my mind. I will do all I can to keep that from happening, and I will also pray that it does not. 

When people ask me if prayer really helps, I respond, “It has never been known to hurt.”

But what I have learned is I must be grateful for every day I am able to enjoy the things I love most in life. The day will come for all of us when we cannot, so let us savor every happy experience and moment of joy that life offers.