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Posts Tagged ‘pain’

Not what I have, but what I do, is my kingdom. (Thomas Carlyle, historian and essayist, 1795-1881)

At dinner my husband Jay compliments my cooking and then suggests we go shopping soon. For my Christmas gift. “I don’t want to get something you need,” he adds. He knows I have a pair of shoes with heels that have been losing a battle with city sidewalks. The soles would not be road-worthy if they were tires.

“We will get whatever you need; I want you to get something extra,” he says. “Something you want.”

I understand the difference, yet don’t have a ready answer. Certainly, if I think about thing-possibilities long enough I could probably come up with an idea. But what I want most no one can give me. I want more people to get along. I want violence to stop, listening to come first and speaking to arrive second. I want my friends who are suffering to see an end to pain. I want the depressed to see a purpose in their lives, the grieving to find comfort, the people I have hurt without knowing it to find healing. I don’t feel well now. Neck spasms. Lying down and getting up again has suddenly become monumental. Health cannot be purchased and wrapped.

I smile and tell my mate we will shop this week. And we will. Probably. Next week at the latest.

I recall driving through a fog to my small community’s church service. I was halfway down a long winding road, no other car in sight, when I realized my lights aren’t on. I could see reasonably well without them, but turned them on anyway. Light, one small passageway, created a clearer path.

One small change in perspective makes a difference. Perhaps it is not the item, the purchased thing, that matters. The gift is no more than a symbol. I think about the built-in imperfections of life. Many people have complimented Jay and me on our ideal marital relationship. I smile because we live the muddy, you-said-what real as well as the let’s-go-to-a-park fun times. Moments arise when work-it-out hasn’t found a solution yet.

We don’t live in Utopia. We have our moments of discontent. Neither one of us has sprouted angel wings, levitated, or prophesied before the masses. We are 100% human, flawed, and complicated. Mind-reading 101 could help with the misunderstandings, but it exists only in fantasy. One of my characters in “The Curse Under the Freckles” has this gift. But, even this character finds it noisy, distracting, and annoying at times.

I suspect a perfect world would be predictable and boring—even in fiction.

So, I have no idea what toy I will choose on shopping day, but the product isn’t my focus. I imagine a journey with someone I’ve known most of my life, yet don’t completely know yet. Even if that journey includes a mundane thirty-minute mall walk. In the meantime, sweetheart, I’ll take your hand and you take mine.

At ages 69 and 70 neither one of us is too old to learn. From a geological point of view we are infants. From today’s practical position it doesn’t matter anyway.

how awesome you are

 

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Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. (Nido Qubein)

 At 4:00 in the morning I watch the clock move to 4:01 with the help of my vanity mirror. It reads backward, of course. But backward seems to fit how I feel. I am awake because my knees throb. However, there is nothing wrong with them. My legs are reasonably strong for a person with such short levers.

My back is creating the chaos. Sure, I’ve known since at least middle age that this no-need-to-duck-for-low-hanging-branches frame is slightly off balance. My right shoulder is closer to my right ear than the left shoulder is to the left. I guess the back got tired of the disharmony and said I’ve had enough. Then it forced my knees and lower legs to pick up the slack. In less flippant terms, x-rays show that I have lumbar stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lumbar spine. I make a tent under the blanket with my legs and relax. That eases the pain—somewhat.

I am in no way unique. Many people experience this back condition. All an individual needs to do is live to middle age and beyond. My physical therapist said I am fortunate that I don’t have excessive fat around my middle. That adds additional pressure on the back.

I gave her one of those embarrassed, no-teeth-showing smiles. I can definitely pinch-an-inch, if not more where a belt would be if I had a fashion-model figure.

Unfortunately, due to a blood-clotting disorder I can’t take the standard non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. I’d give my kingdom for some ibuprofen—if I had a kingdom.

If-only leads nowhere, however.

As the numbers on the clock move into 5:00 I think about all the survivors I know: folk who have beat cancer, stroke, and unbelievable abuse issues. They are blessings. The trick is to focus on the inspiration, and not compare struggles. Who accomplished more? Does it matter?

I do a few core-strength exercises in bed: the old tried-and-true pelvic tilt, a slow and easy sway of both bent knees from side to side while pressing my lower back into the mattress. All moves focus on the upper and lower abdomen. A stronger core takes the pressure off of the narrowed area of the spine.

The clock tells me it is after 5:30, which looks like a 0, followed by a backward 3 and a 2. It isn’t too early to get up now and begin the day. And somehow, miraculously, I’m okay to do just that.

Not every message in life makes sense—seen directly or mirrored through the wisdom of someone else. Sometimes I just have to do what I can, with the information available and a positive outlook.

Peace to all wherever you may be along your journeys.

 beauty of the broken

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