Gordy’s account: We try to arrange an outing for every volunteer in mission team as a way to experience the natural beauty of this country. In May 2018 we decided to take a South Dakota medical team to climb El Morrow, an imposing flat topped mountain by the sea on the outskirts of Montecristi.
It was my first time to hike up the Morrow and from below it looked like a walk in the park. On the way up we met two young women on their way down and they warned us that the path is slippery and dangerous. They had turned back. Wimps, I thought.
As we continued up the younger ones in our group took off like goats leaving the young at heart further and further behind. The path was steep and full of loose rocks. I fell once and scraped up my lower leg. I fell again, extended my right arm to grab at anything and I felt something tear in my shoulder, and the pain was intense. But after a few minutes to cradle my arm, I was amazed that I could still use it so continued on.
A little further up I it became clear to me that I was out of gas and still had to get back down so I too turned back. At this point I was alone. On the way down I slipped again, hit the ground with the same arm extended to grab a non-existent life line and I felt something tear in my shoulder again but this time the pain was extreme and I knew I was hurt. I got back down very slowly more anxious than ever that I might slip yet again.
Fast forward 5 weeks. I finally got to my doctor’s office and after a brief examination he ordered an MRI for my shoulder. The results were not good news, the two main rotator cuff tendons are torn 90%, a muscle is torn, and the ball of the humerus bone is fractured. I am headed for Atlanta for a surgical repair.
Fast forward another 3 weeks: The surgery took over 6 hours and involved four screws, 2 washers, and multiple sutures to repair. In the following weeks and months I must allow the natural healing process to take place and put in the hours of physical therapy that will be necessary.
I have been praying for some time that I might accept that I am growing older. I have always had a lot of pride in being young and strong and often in my imagination I am still somewhere between 25 and 45 years old. In the real world I am closing in on 65. Maybe I am afraid that as I advance in age I become worth less and less.
I wish I could say that after this incident the light came on and I learned my lesson. One thing is for sure that I will never again try to climb El Morrow. And the other day a young man offered me his seat on the subway, I hesitated (who? me?) and then accepted it. Maybe that is progress. This world needs the wisdom of it’s elders. I pray that my pride may soon take a seat and let this man come to terms with his age and perhaps become an elder.