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Dr. Tomaino's Blog

The Hand and the Heart

July 5th, 2009
I hope everyone enjoyed a festive Independence Day yesterday! While flipping through radio station channels on my way to run an errand yesterday, I briefly listened to a stand in host on the Glen Beck Show on WHAM, during which he announced that he was not celebrating the 4th of July this year because of his perception that we have fewer liberties today than we did last year.

Notwithstanding the impact of political correctness and the economic downturn on our perceived liberties, there can be no question, if you really think about it, regarding how vast our freedom is in this nation and in our lives in 2009. While we are indeed challenged by unacceptable unemployment, decreased purchasing power, and diminishing ability to save for the future, we still live in a society replete with “rights” and unparalleled opportunity to enjoy a high standard of living compared to many parts of our world---which each and every day becomes smaller and smaller. Our satisfaction or dissatisfaction revolves to a large extent, I think, around our expectations.

I recently spoke to a friend who had just returned from a trip through Italy. He marveled at the age and agelessness of many churches and other buildings. He witnessed the tomb of one Saint who allegedly lived some 2000 years ago. Void of technologies that we’ve become accustomed to, life not only existed, but flourished. And, many of its legacies remain today.

Dial forward to this century--to fast food, internet access, texting while one drives their car, the expectation that we should be able to purchase things with credit, the normalcy of drinking a beverage other than water, Ipods, flat screen tvs, satellite radio, cell phones, the desire for immediate gratification and money back guarantees--and the list goes on--and it’s easy to understand, I think, why it’s easier today, despite our standard of living, to feel discontent.

This month marks the 1 year anniversary of Tomaino Orthopaedic Care. For those of you who have visited our office, you may recall a painting on the far wall of our waiting room. Leonard Urso, a famed local artist, calls it “The Hand and the Heart.” In the painting lie images of hands and hearts, which appear almost indistinguishable.

But, they are not. They are similar, but they are distinct.

The imagery is powerful, and particularly meaningful to me as a Shoulder, Hand and Elbow Surgeon. Though I strive for a “perfect result,” “complete satisfaction” is at times outside of my circle of influence. At times, I am reminded how devastating injury can be, and yet am astounded by an individual’s ability and fortitude as they live fully with residual impairment. This painting symbolizes, for me, the potential conflict between how we feel and what we feel, between how we feel and what we have, and between who we are despite how we feel.

Wow—all that in a painting? Now that is art!

Our Heart (our essence)—and our Hand (our physical being, or what we have) may indeed be conflicted. After an ailment is treated, whether life-threatening or activity-threatening, we may feel cheated. Yet, the latter hardly has the same consequence. We strive for wellness, absence of pain and functional return, BUT wellness may not mean COMPLETE absence of pain and COMPLETE functional return. Though our life may be blessed by any number of standards, we might reflect more on what we lack than on what we have. Some do quite well with little while others are challenged by little. Even though my objective as an Orthopaedic Surgeon is to restore function and eradicate pain, the outcome is not always black and white.

Enter in the conflict between our Heart and our Hand.

Being content often seems to be an elusive task. To whatever extent possible, however, separating how we feel spiritually and emotionally (our Heart) from how we feel physically (our Hand) may be illuminating. Better to accept, at times, what we have than to obsess on what we lack. And, always remain hopefully optimistic, because “Never” is beyond anyone’s horizon. We may Feel Better once we can get our arms around what matters most. We may not feel great, but we should Feel Blessed.



Dr. Tomaino,

Are you sure you were on the right channel? Did they have the right person filling in for Beck? Maybe he was just being facetious trying to incite some interesting phone calls…? Anyone with the ability to think or read for themselves couldn’t honestly feel the need to disrespect the history of our country by saying such a thing. That gives too much credit to the wrong people! Remember, we are only 120 days into this Administration….they couldn’t possibly be responsible…or so they say. ( ;

Your last paragraph sums it up beautifully. It doesn’t just cover the realm of medical issues, but can apply to all aspects of life. One of your other patients has also commented in previous blogs about how universal your advice can be!

At times we are handed some pretty tough stuff to deal with. Life isn’t easy and it isn’t meant to be and it doesn’t stop. Each of us handles it in our own unique way. Pain itself is a pain. Something we would much prefer to be free of…but, then again, we aren’t usually dealt more than we can handle. If we feel we have been, there are outlets for intervention….friends, family, clergy, or kindly physicians. What you have written reminds me of an article written over 20yrs ago now by a woman named Emily Perl Kingsley…it is called “Welcome to Holland”. It is a timeless piece, worth a quick search.

Thank you Dr. Tomaino and keep up the great blogs!


July 8th, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

What an interesting post from Dr. Tomaino, especially appropriate for the 4th.. I just wanted to pass along to others how impressed I am with this doctor and his caring attitude. We are in Dallas, Texas, and our 16 year old son has a separated shoulder which needs to be corrected. I wanted to be sure we were doing the right thing for our son so did some research on the internet. I found Dr. Tomaino's website and decided to get his opinion on the procdure that was being suggested. He took the time out of his busy schedule to email us numerous times with answers to our questions--all on the holiday weekend! If we weren't so far away, we would definitely look at him doing the surgery. Logistics are a problem for us, and also care for my mother (who has Alzheimers and lives with us). Anyway, I just wanted to thank Dr. Tomaino for all of his help! We would definitely recommend his practice!

July 12th, 2009 @ 7:22 pm
maryann mazzaferro

Dr. Tomaino
What a wonderful philosophy you have and so well posted in your blog. You summed it up so perfectly in your last few paragraphs - Thank you for all your help and words of encouragement in my recovery. I am so grateful for the recovery i have made and the significant progress with my reverse shoulder replacement. When you reach a point when you can truly appreciate what you have and feel blessed for that you have reached a milestone. We all have our crosses in life to bear - but n ever heavier than what we can carry. On a recent trip to Florida i encountered a young man carrying a child in his arms, only to realize he had only one arm and a prosthesis. he did so well it was amazing. It made me count my blessings. every day,I am thankful
for the progress I have made.Although I- always strive to get better I never lose sight of being thankful for what i have now. Your blogs are the best- you are truly a remarkable phyisican who offers his patients complete, total care and words of wisdom,philosophy that help so much in complete
recovery - Maryann M.

July 13th, 2009 @ 2:50 pm
James Briggs

Wow Dr Tomaino! I love the hand/heart painting and your interpretation of what it represents. I think you put in a nut shell all the challenges I have felt as a human or PT as well as what my patients feel as humans and patients. Its cool when art shows us what we often overlook or are scared to see.

September 3rd, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

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