A glow from inside the fridge illuminates the room. I’m the only one awake. Pulling a half gallon of milk from the side door a sharp pain shoots up my arm. Nearly dropping the carton, my left hand springs into action and helps guide the milk safely to the counter.
Scotch and Ibuprofen dull the pain but the conversation with the orthopedist remains clear. Shut it down.
The steroid shot from September didn’t provide the window for healing we’d hoped. Ten months after the tendonitis reemerged from a multi-year hibernation it still has the upper hand. One expert wants to cut. Another suggests more PT and rest. In either case fishing is out.
The thermometer drops below zero. Not much fishing to be had right now. Pain has colored most of the past year. I began to find ways to be on the water without a rod in hand. The elbow begins to throb just thinking about throwing streamers or a jaunt to the salt.
Yet my injury seems insignificant. I once watched an old-timer pack an abscess on a horse full of honey. After finishing he looked at me and noted, it’s far from the heart. True enough. A bum elbow is hardly going to kill me. Besides, I have a fully functioning left arm that hasn’t been used nearly enough since my days as a climber.
Sitting on the couch, in the shadows just beyond Christmas lights soon to be taken down, tears well in my eyes. The past year has been filled with more joy than I deserve. At the same time loss has struck close to home, to my family, my community, and to our world. The loss has touched me but not as harshly as it has touched others.
The full range of emotion is what makes us human. As poignantly put by the late Stuart Scott “When you die it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” This applies to all of us, with or without cancer.
I am thankful. With time the elbow will heal. Rivers will thaw. Fish will be waiting.