Three Lessons I'm Learning from Limited Mobility

I have pressing news.  I fear that I'm going to have to put my dream of being a contestant on American Ninja Warrior on hold.  This is shocking, I know, because when you think of me it's highly probable that you also think, "Now there is a woman who would crush it on a salmon ladder," but alas, my right shoulder is not agreeing with me.

While I'm still awaiting a formal diagnosis from an orthopedist, my physical therapist believes I might have adhesive capsulities, otherwise known as frozen shoulder, which is a condition that according to John Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, and WebMD, sucks. (I paraphrase, of course.)  Basic movements, like putting on a jacket or writing on a chalkboard, are cumbersome and painful.  Daily tasks, like cooking, housekeeping, shampooing my hair, and even sleeping, are becoming increasingly challenging.

The experience helps me to realize how fortunate I am.  I've never had a lingering injury before, besides from a three-week stint on crutches while in high school.  I take my mobile and pain-free life for granted.

But the past three months -- especially these past three weeks when the condition has worsened -- have been teaching me several things.

Sometimes slowing down is necessary, not weak.  Maybe you're like me: always going and always pushing yourself.  Although it seems counter-intuitive, showing restraint and doing less takes more effort.  I still want to exercise hard, tackle housework, and live as actively as I always have.  Instead, I have to accept some limitations.  There's wisdom and strength in slowing down when you're in a season that calls for slowness, especially when it's your inclination to heedlessly forge ahead as normal.

It's okay to ask for help. In the past week, I've asked my kids to help more with chores, I've asked my husband to help me get dressed, and I've asked strangers to help me lift items at the grocery store.  I find it's like the "if you build it, they will come" adage from Field of Dreams, just with a twist: if you ask for help, they will help.  (If my kids groan at the request, which kids are sometimes known to do, I massage my bad shoulder in front of them like Bing Crosby in White Christmas as he tried to guilt Danny Kaye with his old army injury.  The reference is entirely lost on them, of course, but so far, it's worked.)

Receiving help can provide surprisingly sweet moments.  The other evening, my husband sat me down, plugged in my hairdryer, and dried my hair after I showered.  What a gift -- not only because I didn't have to lift my arm, but also because it provided a tender moment of giving and receiving care.  Then, yesterday after my morning class, one student lingered in the classroom to pack his belongings while I logged off the computer and shut down the projector.  He noticed me struggle to put on my jacket, asked what was wrong, and then said, "Well, let me help you, then."  He came to the front of the classroom, guided my arm into its sleeve, then gently put my backpack on for me.

Both of these moments, inexplicably, made me want to cry.  If you're never in a position where you need to receive, you forget how touching it is to be the recipient of another person's generous and willful giving.

So, in the meantime, as I wait for appointments and improvement, I soak up what I can learn from this slower time when I'm receiving more physical help than I can offer.  (And, of course, I still dream of hitting the red buzzer on American Ninja Warrior, or playing a competitive game of beach volleyball, or even being able to fasten my bra by myself.  Because #goals.)

What about you?  Have you ever been forced to slow down because of an injury or other reason?  Feel free to drop me a comment below with any wisdom you've gleaned from the experience!


  1. A few weeks ago I had a rotator cuff injury from working out (doing pushups with an arm rotation/twist--won't do those again!) and was out of commission for about a week. After some oral steroids and rest, I improved. I have never praised the Lord more when I was scrubbing our shower and on hands-and-knees, mopping the floor than I did this past week! There is JOY to be found in the mundane moments of life--all of which we take for granted or grumble about at times. Total mindset shift with housework!! All I could keep saying to God and myself was "I GET to clean today! I GET to teach my children and cook and put on my bra!"
    Hope you are on the mend and recover fully as well!!

    1. Risa, so true! It's easy to take mobility for granted, and then to realize after the fact that it's a gift. I'm so glad your shoulder is on the mend!

      Be careful with those pushups! :)

  2. Insightful and heartening as ever.

    1. Holly, you are so sweet. Thank you for that.


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