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Tomaino Arm Care Network

Dr. Tomaino's Blog


November 28th, 2010
It’s fitting this time of year to reflect on how blessed we are, despite the crosses we may bear. Just like the phrase: “stress is stress” intimates, our life challenges, and individual trials and tribulations should not be offered up for comparison to some standard benchmark of what a “real problem” is. We each bring to the table our own interpretations, perceptions, coping mechanisms, resilience….and the list goes on.

I watched “The Family Stone” last evening with my family; Diane Keaton played the matriarch of the family--her graceful acceptance of her impending death from breast cancer was trumped by the grace with which her husband and children accepted her departure from this life. It brought back sad memories of my mother-in-law who passed a mere 5 months after her Christmas 2004 diagnosis of cancer. My wife—and her siblings and Dad have possessed similar grace.

I saw a long time patient this week who visited, not because of her own “lifeless arm” due to a neurologic problem, but as a loving mother who accompanied her adult child for care of a wrist injury. I shared with her my profound admiration of her unwavering ability to live life despite the baggage of having to literally carry her arm with her in a sling, day and night. I asked her if ever a day passed when she did not think about her arm, its inconvenience, and her “cross”—to say the least. She shared with me that she had long ago accepted her disability, and intimated that she had been blessed with “Grace”.

1. Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.
2. A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement.
3. A sense of fitness or propriety.
a. A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill.
b. Mercy; clemency.
5. A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.
6. A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.
7. Graces Greek & Roman Mythology Three sister goddesses, known in Greek mythology as Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, who dispense charm and beauty.
a. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.
b. The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.
c. An excellence or power granted by God.
9. A short prayer of blessing or thanksgiving said before or after a meal.
or after a meal.

In my daily practice, which arguably consumes my attention day and night, I strive to help people feel better—not just their shoulder, hand or elbow. I share information and willingly and passionately direct patients toward a path that will hopefully decrease their pain and restore function. In the vast majority of cases, our goal is successful, and when it is not we try to provide some level of support to help with their ability to “bear their cross.” As I said earlier, just like stress, one’s “cross” can’t be compared to another’s—though we’d all likely agree that cancer is worse that a painful bursitis.
Like my patient, and “The Family Stone”, and my wife’s family—and countless others who are graceful despite loss, chronic pain or illness or other challenges, most of us aspire to that state through prayer or other means. And when we encounter those in our lives who do not fare as well with the struggle—as we undoubtedly will—we need to call upon “Grace”—the 5th definition above. No judgementalism. No intolerance. No reactionary dialogue or conduct.
“It is what it is”, despite what we may hope for, and do our best to achieve. But---we can pray for “Grace”--theirs and ours.




A dear friend, who also happens to be a Priest, has a bumper sticker stuck to the outside of the ornate wooden door to his office. It says, "Grace Happens!". It does. Sometimes I think our injuries are God's grace for us. A blessing of sorts that causes us to slow down and really take in the life that is happening around us. Although at times we may curse this 'blessing', it has a purpose.
Once when feeling a fair amount of pain, I joked to my friend, "God sure does have a weird sense of humor!". He replied that pain is NOT part of God's humor. Chronic pain is a matter of humanity as we are people of faith who encounter God in the fullness of our humanity, we can do nothing more or nothing less----we are human, just what God made us to be. God's grace (and his sense of humor) is rainbows that occur when sun and storm collide, a child taking his first step then falling to crawl, flowers that open to be a totally different God's sense of humor.
Dr. Tomaino, you and your family, are God's gift to us, another grace. It is their support of you when your work consumes both day and night, that allows you to be there to support us on our journey as an instrument of his peace and generosity.

God Bless you.




November 28th, 2010 @ 10:49 pm
Maryann Mazzaferro

Dr. Tomaino- What could be more touching or appropriate??? Your words put together made me stop and think seriously how we deal with our own crosses, each in our own way. One thing I always keep in my mind- we are never given a cross to bear that is too heavy for us to carry. Faith helps us through and wonderful people such as you and your family. I have learned that pain and discomfort can work in such different ways, and turning something negative into a positive ecperience helps us cope not only with our discomforts but also seems to "pour'' over into othjer aspects of our lives. Since I have been a patient of yours I feel i have definitely become a better person and is anything stop to count my blessings, and not concentrate on my shortcomings. You have a true blessing of helping your patients through the most difficult of circumstances, a Grace you truly possess. At this holiday time it really makes me thankful, not disturbed, that the few crosses I have to bear are so light. I only hope that more will read your blog and gain from your powerful message.

December 5th, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

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