I was planning to join Barbara for three days in June on a trip to England and Wales to celebrate the 80th birthday of her sister and her family reunion. While Barbara would stay longer with her family, my plan was to travel to Scotland for a ministry opportunity. But due to health reasons, we had to cancel my trip all together, and Barbara will go alone to England and Wales.
The issue that is keeping me from traveling is too much traveling — years of wear and tear on my elbows, especially my right elbow, as a result of handling bags and suitcases. I specifically remember injuring my arm on a trip to Russia many years ago, resulting in both tennis elbow and golf elbow, as well as damage to the tissue in-between those areas. Physical therapy resulted in some healing, but I was still traveling a lot and repeatedly aggravating the injuries, eventually making healing impossible. Well, at least impossible without extreme treatment and rehab. After an MRI, I was told there are two possible treatments: stem cell injections or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections. As stem cell injection is still experimental in the United States, we decided on the PRP injections.
PRP entails the doctors taking a small amount of blood from me and placing it in a special centrifuge. The centrifuge separates the layers of blood, allowing the platelet-dense layer to be collected. This final blood byproduct will be injected into the three damaged areas in my elbow, accelerating tissue healing and recovery, and hopefully reducing injury recurrence. For six weeks following the injections, I am not supposed to use my right arm for carrying stuff, and as little as possible for anything else. I might have it in a sling for some time, and I am already practicing driving with my left hand. Following six weeks of limited use comes weeks of slow exercise, building up strength in the muscles so the injuries will not reoccur. I plan not to fly for a few months following the treatment.
The two months that follow the treatment will be the most challenging because I am right handed. If I experience any injury to my right elbow at this critical time, it will ruin any healing that has occurred as a result of the injections. The procedure is scheduled for August 3. I value your prayers — not just that the procedure goes well, but especially for the time after the procedure.
All of this to say, getting older can be difficult. But when my wife and I think of getting older and of the challenges that will increase over the years, we try to remind ourselves of two texts. First, we claim the promise of Isaiah 46:3-4: "Listen to me, [put your name here], you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." The second text is 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, which says, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." This text helps us focus beyond the physical trials of getting older on what is eternal. (I made a study on the topic of heaven, which you may find encouraging. I wrote about it in this blog.)
"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you." 1 Corinthians 16:23