The last month of 2012 came as a big surprise to me. Now, I don’t mean that December rolled around — it always does. But this December did not follow any plan I had made, and I am a planner and somewhat of an organizer. I know what I intend to do and usually have a plan to get it done in a timely manner.
My left shoulder had been giving me some trouble for months, and I know that I re-injured it during our recent move. However, during late November, the pain was so intense and so frequent that I knew I had to seek medical help — and sooner rather than later. I found out I had a badly torn rotator cuff, three tendons that needed attention and a bone spur. This diagnosis came after lengthy tests, trying shots into the shoulder and exercises that hurt, well, like you know what. Surgery was suggested. I am not big on medical facts, and when it comes to me going to the doctor, it is a rare occurrence. However, on Dec. 7, I underwent five procedures to the shoulder and came through it just fine. I had a great surgeon, and the hospital crew was wonderful to me.
My arm and shoulder was put into a restrictor sling for six weeks, and I was given a list of what I could and could not do. Didn’t these guys know it was Christmas and I had way too much to do to be hindered by having only one arm to use? After one week of learning to do things in different ways, I got a call that my 15-year-old grandson and namesake, Brendan, had been involved in a freak accident at his home. He was rushed to the hospital, and we learned within 24 hours that he had a collapsed lung, a tear in the wall of his lung, possible broken ribs and possible blood clots. Suddenly, nothing else mattered other than Brendan’s health and getting well quickly.
We were all stunned because he is a healthy, robust, fun-loving teen. We took turns sitting in the hospital with him where he stayed for five days and nights without leaving his bed. They did emergency surgery and placed a tube in his chest to help the lung re-inflate and to drain, and he was on pure oxygen. Mind you, this is the week prior to Christmas, and he is missing out on all the goings-on of his busy social world.
I have chosen to write this account of our month to let you know that our best-laid plans often get derailed. There would have been a time in my life when not having all of my gifts wrapped beautifully with matching bows and name tags and arranged under the tree would have driven me bonkers. Thinking I had not made cookies, fudge, cakes and pies would have upset me terribly. Not being able to visit my friends and deliver carefully chosen gifts would have been unthinkable.
This December I have learned to thank God again for the simple things of life. For a child being able to breathe on his own without the aid of machines, for the hope of a torn wall in a lung being able to repair itself, and for getting a brand new shoulder. I can promise you when this family sits down to Christmas dinner, we will all be more thankful that we are simply together, safe, on our way to good health, and that we have food and a home in which to eat it together.
I have also learned again firsthand the importance of dear friends, helpful co-workers, and family members. Taking the time to make a short telephone call, send a note, shoot a quick e-mail, or send a flower or card changes things for those going through the trial, but you know what? It also changes things for the person doing the act of kindness. My old pastor often used to say, “You can only help someone when they need your help.” I found that to be true.
My personal plans for 2013 include more simplifying in my life, less hustle and bustle, and more willingness to show love and kindness to those in my life. Will you join me? I believe these plans will please God. Happy New Year — 2013.
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.