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  • Earlene Gleisner

The Accidental Present

My best gift of 2022 was one I really didn’t want. I was gifted with two torn tendons in my left shoulder that caused me constant pain. If I ever travel by air again, I will not lift my suitcase into the overhead compartment by myself.

I thought I’d only wrenched a muscle so didn’t seek help after that lovely trip to Wisconsin for a month. The pain increased, so I got x-rays and an MRI. Surgery was not an option, because I was too old. Instead, I faced 6 months of PT.

I was not a happy camper. Working through the pain, I had to make myself believe that exercise could heal a torn tendon. I also had to work through my sometimes-overbearing attitude as a retired RN. You see, I thought I knew better.

The hardest part for me was having to follow specific directions and do the same thing the same damn way, every day, actually two times a day. I never do the same thing every time, not dancing, not recipes, nothing. But I had to learn this. After 18 weeks, I was told, “Well, you’re 75% better. We’re discharging you.”

“But I don’t have any strength.”

“You have movement. Keep doing the exercises and strength will come.”

That’s when I discovered I didn’t want to be discharged. I wanted the weekly contact, the support, the hellos and the shared jokes as well as getting to know new people. I found I liked routine and checking out new things.

But I was done or rather I had met Medicare protocols for discharge.

Now, I realized I’ve gained more than being able to raise my arm again and pull up my pants. I’ve learned more about myself, seen where I thrive on additional social contact. Somehow during those 18 weeks, I developed a newer me. I have extra confidence and am less fearful to try new possibilities than I never thought I would at almost 78.

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