Shortly after awakening from a restful night’s sleep, Maureen Shannon walked to the window to open the blinds. At the last minute, she changed her mind and turned around. In the very next moment her body broke and her future was dramatically altered.
Maureen began playing piano when she was 11 years old. She felt God had gifted her to play and she enjoyed it tremendously. She played in churches both voluntarily and in some paid positions for 36 years. The accident on February 5, 2014 forever changed her ability to use that gift.
A box of pictures had found its home under the window in Maureen’s bedroom for the better part of a year. It sat, totally benign, patiently waiting to be opened up and gone through as soon as time and circumstances would allow. Maureen put it there. She knew she was standing next to it as she debated whether to open or leave the blinds closed. However, as Maureen turned away from the dark window, she tripped over the box of photos. The trajectory of her body and the momentum of her turn carried her down to the floor. Before she landed in a crumpled heap, her shoulder first slammed into her husband’s shoe rack and broke the ball on which her arm rotates inside the shoulder. The rest of the fall shattered the upper part of her humerus in three places.
Even under the circumstances of the four times she gave birth to their daughters, she never called her husband, Steve, at the clinic where he practiced as a physician to request that he come home. On this occasion however, Maureen knew she needed serious and immediate medical attention.
Steve came home. He walked in the door and was met by a dazed Maureen with her arm hanging limply at her side. She was quickly succumbing to shock.
Steve loaded Maureen into the car and drove to Anne Arundel Medical Center. At first glance, the attending physician assumed her injury to be from a fall on the ice as he had seen many such injuries that day. Embarrassed by the seemingly innocent nature of tripping over a box in a bedroom, Maureen jokingly asked if the doctor could record “slipped on the ice” as the cause of injury instead.
As the marrow leaked out of her bones and traveled down her arm increasing the swelling and damage to the entire arm, the diagnosing physician proclaimed that her injury would result in a complete shoulder replacement. They sent her home with medication to try to staunch the blinding pain, but no further action could be taken until the swelling went down.
The nature of their military insurance required Maureen to endure another consultation at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center where again, a shoulder replacement seemed imminent. At their appointment, they learned that by divine providence, there was availability for Maureen to be seen at Walter Reed Medical Center where they got to see God’s hand at work again.
Only upon Maureen’s third evaluation, this time at Walter Reed, did they meet with a surgeon who announced that he could repair and rebuild her shoulder and did not recommend a shoulder replacement.
This surgeon was an expert. He had the honor of addressing hundreds of injuries sustained by soldiers sent home from the Middle East. These soldiers had been involved in assaults and IED explosions. They literally had their limbs blown to pieces. The complexity of Maureen’s shoulder injury was similar these. God had sent her to Walter Reed to have the aid of a surgeon who was experienced and uniquely qualified to bring healing to her body.
Maureen underwent the complex surgery that left her with a seven-inch metal plate and 12, three-inch pins holding her upper arm together. Remarkably, after 17 months of rehabilitation and physical therapy she has recovered 90% use and motion of her arm.
Maureen’s recovery astonished the professionals she came into contact with. The Lord provided her with exactly the right surgeon and team that performed an amazing surgery on her arm. She enjoyed support from her family who cared for her. She had a sweet friend who was the hands and feet of Jesus every Thursday as she ministered to Maureen in her home. Countless friends drove her to appointments from February to November when she was unable to drive herself. Maureen performed her physical therapy exercises faithfully. All of these things worked together to provide recovery above and beyond what any of the doctors dared to hope for.
In spite of such an extraordinary recovery, some things will never be the same. Maureen had to grieve the loss of her ability to play piano as she did before the accident. This was hard because piano had been her gift for decades.
In time, Maureen came to accept that God closed the door on that season. While it seems strange to not have that be a part of her life anymore, she is eager to see where God will have for her in the next season.
God is definitely not done with her yet!
Maureen is a wonderful Bible teacher and has been leading a Tuesday morning Bible study at The Church at Severn Run for 17 years (with the exception of the Spring of 2014 when she was recovering from surgery). She is looking forward to seeing the other places God will use her as she faces a future different than she always imagined.