I had surgery on my shoulder about seven weeks ago. The surgery was supposed to last one hour. Recovery and healing meant limited use of my right shoulder and arm for six weeks.
Then, the surgery became more complicated, lasting three hours instead. Last Friday, the “waiting game” was extended to eight weeks, with just a little more freedom. I was not happy.
As usual, I had everything planned out. A seven-week block between weddings and a few weeks after the Auburn University fall semester began seemed the perfect time to have surgery. I was wrong.
Post-surgery, life seemed particularly busy. I did not count on how much longer it took to do simple tasks with just one arm — taking a shower, getting dressed and the like. And I did not expect sleep would be so difficult. Initially, I could sleep only a couple of hours at a time. A lack of good, sound sleep coupled with late evenings with college students was not a good combination in those first few weeks after surgery.
What has all this taught me? First, to count the blessings of the full use of two arms.
I visit a few people who are completely paralyzed on one side of their bodies. My situation is just a temporary inconvenience compared to theirs and hardly worth complaining about.
Second, I am definitely a multi-tasker; it is how I handle a busy life. Simple things, such as not being able to brush my teeth while simultaneously doing something else, frustrated me.
For two weeks, I could either carry something or open a door, so it took twice as long to get to the car or anywhere else. First, all doors were opened, then I went back for the things to be carried.
I realized I take too much pride in being efficient, in getting many things done quickly. I had to remind myself that efficiency is not a gospel value.
Third, I discovered how much I hate “missing out.” I had tickets to the first three Auburn home football games, but only made it to half of one of them and to just one tailgate. I was too tired the first few weeks after surgery to enjoy things I usually do, especially if they happened after 7 p.m. And I was not much fun to be around.
Life is full of trials. Jesus tells us in the gospel to pick up our crosses and follow Him. I often preach how there is only one path to Easter — through Good Friday.
Given the choice, however, I much prefer life to be easy, of course. But life is not easy. And the test of faith sometimes is how we handle the difficult parts of life.
When it comes to my shoulder surgery, I would give myself just a passing grade, overall. I know there is plenty of room for improvement when my next trial comes along. I will try to do better. How about you?
A Catholic priest since 1987, Father Bill Skoneki has been the pastor of St. Michael Catholic Parish since 2005. Prior to Auburn, he ministered in Montgomery, Mobile, Fairhope and Daphne. The son of an Air Force officer, his family is based in Montgomery.