This past 2 weeks, S decided he felt ready to switch roles again. He wanted to take over farm work and let me go back to being mom, wife, cook, and so forth. If you’ve followed for a while, you are likely aware that S ripped a tendon in both elbows. We don’t know how he did it. He literally woke up one morning with his arms hurting. Nothing unusual had happened the day before, so he thought perhaps he had a touch of tendonitis. I won’t repeat everything I posted previously, but suffice it to say, after 3 doctors and specialists and 2 physical and occupational therapists, his condition continued to worsen. The medical professionals he spoke with all agreed that pain should be his guide. One doctor told him not to lift over 20 lbs, and all said essentially, “If it hurts, don’t do it or you might tear the tendon completely from the bones.” As time went on, the pain progressed to the point that he couldn’t do hardly anything. JR had to tie his shoes for him, I had to button his shirts. As his condition worsened, my work load increased. Not only was I running the farm and lifting anything over 20 lbs (i.e. feed bags, hay bales, digging, shoveling, harnessing, firewood, you name it!), but as he worsened, I also had to take over more inside. I had to strip beds for the younger kiddos, and remake all beds. S could still cook, but I had to move the pots around the kitchen for him. He was left basically cooking, doing light cleaning, and folding laundry. His biggest task was homeschooling the kids, because it was about the only thing he could do that didn’t cause pain. Talk about a rough few months! Just think about everything you use your arms for! At one point, I desperately needed help moving some hay. S got resourceful to get the job done without using his arms:
He had to go and buy a pair of slip-on muck boots and avoid button-shirts, just so he could dress without assistance. Brushing his teeth hurt. We had to use our hard-earned savings to hire help to get tasks completed that I just couldn’t do alone. You get the idea.
At wit’s end, S saw a new specialist. We don’t know the guy’s full history, but he was an orthopedist who may have had some training in Chinese medicine. In any case, he scoffed at the advice from all the other doctors and therapists. He said basically, “Of course it’s gonna hurt! You ripped two tendons, and everything is going to make it hurt! For the next 6 months or so, you are going to be in pain, whether you use them or not. So use them. Don’t overuse them, and don’t do anything ridiculously strenuous. Sharp pain is bad, but dull pain and general ashiness is fine and expected. Work through it, and come back in 5 weeks.” Crazy as it sounded, nothing else was working, so S decided to try it. He started working, slowly at first, and gradually increasing. At first there was pain, but amazingly, the pain began decreasing each day until it just wasn’t there. A month in, he said he was ready to take over. He is now using his chainsaw (on a limited basis), hauling things (still tries to keep weight under about 30 lbs.), and has taken over all outdoor chores. He is even milking the goats to give me a break, which was impossible from the intense pain 2 months ago.
No, his tendon’s haven’t reattached. We have a few theories, but ultimately, we have to give God credit for the healing that has happened. S is careful not to overdo things, per the doctor’s advice, but he fully expected to deal with pain for the next 6 months or more. Yet, it disappeared. That cannot be explained. The only time he has an issue now is if he works a bit too hard one day, then he might just have some slight discomfort/achiness at the end of the day.
We have discussed the challenges we have faced over the last 6-8 months. S feels strongly that God has been trying to teach us a few lessons and prune us into what He has in store. Despite the challenges, it did force us to make some changes for the better. We realized that all our children were plenty old enough to help out a little more. We taught the youngest how to strip their beds on laundry day, and the oldest how to re-make their beds. We bought a bedwetting system for A to help reduce the laundry, and although we are still going through the process, it seems to be working. We changed chores around a bit to spread the load a little. We expected a little more from the younger children, rather than having them play any time they weren’t in school. We joined some great work exchange programs, which I will discuss later. S even used some of his “free” time to become a bit of an activist on legislative issues around our state. S values my house-work a bit more, and I have a new appreciation for the tremendous amount of work he does around the farm. Certainly I had my moments of frustration, as did he. However, if faced with the right attitude, we believe any challenge can teach us and grow us into better people. It can improve communication and team work among a family. And it can make us all stronger in the end. We aren’t totally out of the storm yet, and still face some challenges, but things are looking up, and we hope this season is coming to an end.