Appreciation of G-d’s gifts

Michael - Owings Mills, Maryland
Entered on October 22, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in appreciation of G-d’s gifts. Two years ago, many of the skills we need for day-to-day activities were taken from me. I don’t ask questions about my poor luck. Instead, I wake up every day and see the scar on my arm and just know that it could happen again any second. I appreciate what I have, even this scar.

In my sophomore year in high school, I felt a surge of pain in my left hand. When the pain subsided, I could not move my ring finger or pinky, and my other fingers were weak. The doctor told me there was some form of nerve damage.

A number of things changed for me. Essentially, I didn’t have a left hand. Most of the muscle had deteriorated after a couple weeks. I could no longer write. I could lift small things, but my grip was awful. Little things, like opening a can of soda, or trimming my fingernails became next to impossible. Worst of all, I could no longer play guitar. I strained very hard to make chords, but I could not coordinate my fingers and when I could, pressing the strings was difficult. After a short time of trying, I put the guitar down. I placed the guitar in its hard case, clicked the 4 seals shut and locked the case so it could not open. I stood the case up in the corner of my room and let it gather dust.

With the results from a shock test, my doctor confirmed the diagnosis. He said that I had a pinched ulnar nerve and that he needed to operate. I will always remember him telling me “The surgery may have no results and, to be honest, I am little afraid to operate on you, because I’ve never operated on a 15 year old. The youngest person I ever saw with this condition was 25, but he had a full recovery and I believe your age will help you recover too.” Suddenly, nothing was real anymore. How could this be? I couldn’t grasp the fact that I had a condition that doesn’t usually strike until age 55 or 65 when I was only 15.

After a few weeks, I got the soft cast off and the stitches out. I was still advised to refrain from using my arm because the surgery left me fragile, with most of the muscle in my arm cut and useless. However, I noticed an immediate difference: I had feeling in all my fingers. After a few more weeks, I saw the doctor. He told me my recovery was considered full and that I could do what I wanted. I could move my hand with no pain and I could do everything normally. I came very close to crying and restrained myself from hugging the man who saved my arm.

When I got the news, I immediately picked up my guitar. I remember the joy of being able to play. The tone of each note rang forever in my ears, and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. I believe that I was blessed by the divine. I can write, play guitar, open soda cans, grip a door knob, and pull the tab to set my alarm clock. To me, it’s a miracle that all those little things came back to me.

I wake up every morning and see the scar across my elbow and I remember the struggle I faced dealing with it. I understand that if the damage happens again on that arm, there will be no correction possible, so I live every day thanking G-d for this gift and every gift He’s given me.