I could have also called this blog, “Conversations with myself.” The object of the “Hey” in question is usually me.
I’ve often heard that patience is a virtue. It’s not one I particularly like. It’s so much easier to work on all the other virtues like honesty, thriftiness and steadfastness. Patience is one of those qualities that only arrive after a terminally long spell of something lousy. It usually indicates you have been waiting for something, enduring some experience or putting up with something or someone who is not pleasant.
I know folks can be rude to the elderly, the handicapped and the others who have physical challenges, but outright impatience can be just as bad as being mean or impolite. The whole world seems to be in a hurry to get wherever they are going and then in a hurry to leave once they get there. Maybe we need to take more time to count the petals on the daisy, watch the snail cross the sidewalk and feel the sun on our face.
I must confess I am usually the greatest transgressor of impatience toward myself, not necessarily others. In recent months, I’ve had some slow moving, down time both emotionally and physically. It has stolen muscle mass from me, negated my energy and made me feel like I have aged five years in less than one. I hate that feeling of having fallen behind, don’t you? I guess it could depend who and what you are striving to catch up to or seek. In my case and I’m guessing yours, we try to keep up with our old selves. You remember that person? That’s the one you used to be. Unfortunately, we often hold up our old selves as our model or example of what we should be. That doesn’t work. Each day, with chronic illness, we must instead, reinvent ourselves.
In recent months I think I’ve figured out why so many of the elderly give up and give in after an accident or other incident knocks them on their tush. It’s hard to get back up. It hurts. Sometimes we can’t find the motivation to do it. It’s difficult physically and mentally. Muscles that have been set aside for a while are difficult to rejuvenate. Muscles are like flowing water in a stream. They have to move in order to stay viable and fresh. When those muscles are attached to bones, ligaments and tendons that have suffered an accident or are diseased, it’s even harder to get them to respond. Again, it hurts. I don’t like to hurt but sometimes…
For many years I have had a love/hate relationship with physical therapy. I have had good therapists and a couple of bad ones. Even the bad ones had something to teach me and the good ones? Well, they have changed my life. Diseased body parts due to some rheumatoid condition are always a challenge. It’s always a temptation to give in to them and let gravity in the form of a bed or a chair win. Sometimes gravity takes the form of the floor and it’s a totally unplanned gravitational experience. Thump. This usually leads to more pain and suffering.
I often have these long talks with myself, either out loud or in my mind and they are usually not pleasant. Far too seldom do I say, “Oh self, what a lovely day it is. Let’s go out and smell the rain on the sidewalk or watch the sun glistening off the river.”
No, my usual talks with myself involve the whys and wherefores of life and interrogating myself on why some action is worth it. It’s so much easier when I’m in pain just to stay put, not move and watch TV or read a good book. Sometimes I win the argument, yet I also lose; funny how that can happen. I know what I need to do but I don’t always do it. Forestalling movement of muscle for another day is somewhat like saving ice cubes by putting them in your pocket. Time will have its way. There’s also that old bugger gravity, once again rearing its ugly head.
One of the questions I still ask myself is not “Why?” because I gave up on that one long ago. No, the question I now ask myself is, “Is it worth it?” Does that surprise you? I’m elderly, I’ve been sick for many years with two rheumatoid diseases plus inflamed bowel disorder, then cancer and I’m tired of it all. I’m so fed up with the pain, the not being able to do what I would like to do. There are days I don’t think I have another effort left in me. I know many of you must feel that same way. There are those days. Those are the days I have to ask myself, “Is it possible for a human being to kick oneself in the ass?”
I’m not certain if it is anatomically possible but if it were, this body is certainly not capable of doing it and that is when I have to figure out another way to do it without the backward kick.
We are each comprised of so much more than just our bodies and I think you and I both forget this important fact, or at least I know that I do. A diseased and painful body may get us down but it is the spirit which spurs the body past the pain to go on with living. Without the spiritual input, the belief that life is still worth living, what would we have? Pain finagles its way into our brains as well as our bodies. It puts a frown on the face, a dread into the heart and robs life of joy. Pain, if left to its own devices is a predator of all that is joyful, good and loving in life. Pain is our enemy. This is quite literally a war to survive as we trudge day to day to overcome, to rise above and to win the battle.
I’m sorry I have pain and have had it for so long. I’m sorry if you do as you are reading this. After the “I’m sorry” is said, where do we go from there? There is about a nanosecond of comfort in the phrase, “I’m sorry.” There has to be more. The answers I have found may not be the ones which will satisfy you but they are all I know. I have to keep moving. I cannot always rely on others. It isn’t fair to them and it isn’t fair to me. I have to find ways to remain strong defeat this enemy and keep kicking it back. Therefore today I do the exercises laid out for me by my physical therapist, I clean just one part of my house that is bugging me, I do one or two loads of laundry and call that a good day. During all of that I take times to rest this quarrelsome body, find time for a play period with the dog, read something uplifting, watch a good mystery or love story and keep going. That may also involve talking to a good friend by phone, chatting with a grandchild or my son or daughter or facing some surprise that comes my way.
This time of year some of us are surrounded by signs of spring, whether it is the chirp of a bird, the sight of a yellow daffodil popping into bloom, or a soft spring rain. Life can pull us along behind it and sometimes, it’s okay to hitch a ride. We must always keep changing as we are reinventing ourselves. Certainly, our bodies want to melt like that ice cube in the pocket but we have to do everything in our power to hold them up, prop them up or do whatever it takes to keep scootin’ along life’s highway. Otherwise we’ll become flotsam alongside the edge of the road. I want to be out there in the middle, the mainstream of life; don’t you?