The Year of Living Gingerly

I have this thing – I like even numbers; 2011 is not an even number. Despite the pains of 2011, the year is turning out OK after all.

Let’s get the pain out-of-the-way: about four years of pain led to a right hip replacement in May 2011. Just a few weeks of therapy led to a nearly perfect summer. Then, I tumbled down the steps of our vacation house in New Hampshire and punctured my face on some boating gear at the bottom of the steps. Four doctors and many antibiotics later and the clutz who is me – healed. Finally, in my left shoulder diagnosed as frozen shoulder – has led to

Adam & his electric razor - wasn't he just needing a pacifier?

weeks and weeks of therapy that will lead into 2012 – but I’ll be fine. What is frozen shoulder? Women of a certain age can develop this real pain-in-the-joint affliction; some men and diabetics can develop frozen shoulder as well. The ligaments and tendons literally freeze which leads to restricted mobility. Try reaching up for a plate in the kitchen cabinet or scratching your back with the affected arm. You quickly learn the stages of frozen shoulder: freezing, frozen and thawing. I got to the doctor and physical therapist during the freezing stage. Now, I’m thawing. Thank you Meryl Goldstein, physical therapist at Excel in Cherry Hill. While the therapy is extremely painful – for her as well as me – I’m about 80% cured. Woo-hoo!

Enough of the pain already! Emotional pain has been the hallmark of our son’s senior year in high school. Adam is a bright, happy, overall well-adjusted young man. He’s just not as enthusiastic about life as perhaps he should be at this critical stage of his life. Senior year in high school means applying to colleges, financial aid applications, boy scout eagle project responsibilities and many other details. Detail-oriented – he is not. I constantly struggle over pushing him to get things done to completely backing off and letting him fail. Either one of these options is not the way to go. Striking the balance is extremely emotional. Somehow, I know Adam will succeed and do very well wherever his college career and career path leads.

Do you spend time looking at yourself from a distance? I wonder how I’m going to turn out; how my relationship with my husband will evolve and adjust; which hair color to choose. The thoughts go much deeper than a hair color, but I do spend time late at night or early in the morning thinking about my mortality. That’s pretty painful.

So how are things, really? I must be thankful and grateful for so many blessings: my family – both sides – and all their accomplishments and growth. I became a great-aunt late last year so I have a new family member to get to know. My physical fitness is definitely on the rise; my trips to the gym (and physical therapy) keep my head clear most days. When you see people at the gym who are a decade or two older than you and still getting there every day, you have to at least keep up.

Seeing the stories of our returning troops makes me wonder how they will spend the next year or two or longer adjusting to their stateside lives. The turbulent economy and changes in their families has to be stressful. In the end, I hope they find peace and happiness in their lives and know that so many of us are ever grateful for their service. I want to do something in 2012 to help as our service people return home.

As we opened our Christmas gifts this morning, I couldn’t help but remember that it seemed like a minute ago when my son was spitting up on my shoulder. Today, his favorite gift was the electric shaver we got him. Hearing the whir of the shaver made me nostalgic for the Christmas morning we spent wrestling with the hermetically packaged toys that needed assembly and running around looking for the right sized batteries to make the toys work.

The roast will go in the oven soon and the family will gather again for another Christmas. After the leftovers are put away and the last holiday light goes out, I wish for all the family and friends near and far a much less painful and much more happy New Year.

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