This is the third part of my Broken Elbow. If you want to read the whole story, click : Part 1 / Part 2
In 1983 Karen and I saw a lot of change and pain in our lives
The most dramatic change came when my elbow was broken. After two operations in Manila and over three months of painful therapy my arm would not bend at the elbow. In October I went to the USA to be treated by specialists. In California they used injections and physical therapy to try and bend the arm. It still wouldn’t bend.
After surgery was ruled out because of the risk of further damage I left there and traveled to Chicago. Two specialists there felt there was one last alternative I could try. They put me to sleep, manipulated the arm and bent it to a full flexion of 140 degrees. I woke up with a very sore and swollen elbow and within hours was doing an intensive physical therapy program. The arm had to be exercised and moved every hour to prevent it from locking up again. These sessions were painful and tiring. I even got up during the night to continue the sessions.
“These sessions were painful and tiring”
After four days we reached 130 degrees of flexion and I could do things I hadn’t done in five months. I could touch my face and feed myself with my right hand. But after six days my mind and body began reacting to all the painful sessions and lack of rest. I got sick and was put to sleep for twelve hours to recover and rest. I woke up and the arm was frozen again.
After five months of treatments, physical therapy, and a lot of pain I had come to the end of the line. I was broken and tired. I lay in my hospital bed thinking as God taught me some great lessons. I thought of all the tremendous experiences I had playing basketball all over the world.
Playing against Olympic and pro teams in big stadiums would not be possible anymore. I couldn’t even button my shirt, comb my hair or shave with my right arm. But God gave me a tremendous peace in the hospital. My life is not built around basketball. It is built around a loving and powerful God. He taught me to give my best and not let the results of my efforts, either good or bad, control me. I realized my joy was in knowing Christ.
“I will always have the privilege of sharing about a precious Christ”
During my time in the Chicago hospital I was given the opportunity to share with therapists, roommates, nurses, nurses aides, and five patients with hip replacements. I realized I will not always have the privilege of experiencing exciting victories on the basket ball court but I will always have the privilege of sharing about a precious Christ.
He made my accident turn out for good in the hospital and in my life. Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible! “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
Jacob had a broken hip and a limp to remind him of his relationship with God, his wrestling with the angel, the blessing he received, and the turning point in his life.
I can honestly say there has been a great blessing in the experience with my arm.
He has answered your prayers for my healing.
Although it is not a physical healing, there has been a spiritual healing in a wonderful way. I am more anxious than ever to serve on the mission field. I may not be as good at basketball but I still represent you as a missionary to a lost world.
Still your missionaries,
Tom and Karen