What an interesting idea. Wouldn’t it be great to have a magic chest where we could go for cures or remedies for life’s stressful situations? This chest would have much in it much like Mary Poppins satchel. Remember the lamp she removed? Yes, it would have to be magic. Every one of us have a medicine chest in our bathrooms and they are filled with pills of all shapes and sizes, toothbrushes, creams of all types, but is there anything in there to make stress disappear? I know there may be a pill or two that is appealing but the stress doesn’t really go away with a prescription; it is simply numbed for a while. When the numbness and the effects of the medication or alcohol if that’s your preference leave, the stress is still there, lurking or sometimes screeching.

We seem to be surrounded by stress and as a world we are suffering from the fatigue of that stress. Politicians are blasting out their messages, the news is insane, madmen are killing and nations are dissolving and yet, here we are, those who suffer chronic pain and chronic illnesses, already stressed to the limit. It is a bit surprising the world as a whole doesn’t have hypertension, bleeding ulcers and migraines, don’t you think? Is it possible for us to have a collective nervous breakdown? Where can we go to escape the madness? Don’t we have enough challenges without adding onto the pile we already carry every day of our lives?

Speaking for myself, and I always do, I find I don’t handle stress as well as I used to. I often ask myself, after I’ve calmed down, “Why?” I believe living with chronic pain can make us so on edge we often feel like Atlas and find the world far too heavy. That’s when it’s time to put it down. I find I awaken to disappointment to find my problems are still there and have to be faced anew each day. If I could escape my body just for a little while, how grand that would be. I wish I could get this lobster that grasps my rear end all the time off of me. Now there’s an image one can find cartoonish but that is the reality of sacroiliitis and it fits, uncomfortably but fits. Perhaps I am influenced by living on the coast in my choice of a lobster claw. I could just as easily have referenced the metaphor of sitting on a pitch fork or something more pastoral but I think you get the picture.

People are usually surprised when I write or say something humorous about all the physical problems I face but I don’t see why? Having a pain in the tush is funny if it’s not your tush. When I tell someone, anyone from a doctor to a perfect stranger I have pain in my ass, they always smile; therefore, it must be humorous. I’ve lived with it for a long time and when you add a dozen other problems, many of them painful to an already painful rear, well, any stress from an ant on the floor to a mad bomber can send you over the edge. My nails are often ragged from clinging to that edge but I haven’t fallen in yet. I may be a bit grumpy, depressed or angry but I’m still holding on.

Why don’t we see if that magic medicine chest has something in it for the rigors of this way of life and the stress that is induced both inside and outside of our bodies? Since the medicine chest I envision is here at home, close at hand, we don’t have to travel far which is a thought many of us can embrace. Funny, isn’t it how the shortest and most mundane things in life can become gargantuan when you are handicapped? We just have to use stronger tools I guess, what else? Let me tell you about my magic medicine chest that I often have to reach into for the sheer joy of survival.

Sue’s magic medicine chest is full of hopes, dreams and yes, even an aspiration or two. We cannot live without something to look forward to. When your world becomes smaller and smaller and your limitations pile up like logs blocking the roadway, you often have to search a bit harder to find some light in the darkness in order to move forward. Forward is a wonderful word, isn’t it? Standing still is boring and although it may be painful, forward is our only choice for survival. We can’t go back and reclaim a healthy self, if we sit still and don’t move that is tantamount to dying, therefore, forward march, crawl, limp or scoot.

I understand darkness and despair but I don’t really care for them. I often have to walk away from them. That’s why there is always a light shining in my magic chest to dispel the darkness of depression and self-pity. It doesn’t really matter how long the list may be or the rationale for being in despair, it is a dead end street, a hole in the road and a waste of life all wrapped in a grey package. You might want to say to me, “But you don’t know how awful my life is!” Yes, my dears I do understand but you still can’t take a free ride on it because life is moving on. Hear that ticking sound? Listen carefully for it. Hear it? That’s your life and mine ticking away. Guess I’d better be sure to have a nice large clock in the chest, just as a reminder.

So many of the remedies for life are things you find around the house like the love of a worthy companion and a loving pet. There’s just something about a hug, whether it is given or received coming from a person or a pet. Life reaching out to life is always doubled or tripled in size. So much joy sitting right there in front of us. Plant life can be pretty wonderful, too. Just look, for instance, at the lowly geranium. My son gave me a beautiful red geranium this weekend. It is a wonderful candy apple red, actually the same color as my car, and I love it. Geraniums just keep blooming all spring and summer and will not be deterred as long as they have sun and water. Whenever we grab the clippers to dead head the spent blooms, there are always wonderful new, tiny hopefuls waiting to take their place. My home is full of African violets that keep reproducing. A couple of them have to sustain themselves beneath lamps for part of the day but I think it is worth it to see the white, violet or deep purple blooms with their tiny yellow hearts. They don’t question life as long as they have the basics. Oh, to have the optimism of a flowering plant. Why can’t we humans get more joy out of just being alive? I think it’s because we have regrets and we don’t like change. For many of us the change is ruthless and painful but it only wins if we forget to go forward. If we let it sit on us and beat us to death, well, that’s it.

Another vital item for the medicine chest has to be one’s own personal philosophy and faith. I happen to be a Christian and believe God has my back. I’m not always happy with His decisions but I know He will not ever let me down. He never has. I’m not always polite in my conversations with God but I know He understands just like any loving father does. For instance, one of my favorite whines is, “Gees, when are you going to give me a break?” I have not had a bolt of lightning strike me down…yet. We don’t always agree, but eventually I come around or something interesting and often wonderful happens in my life. My idea of wonderful is very personal and I think it should be for each of us. Whether we are disabled or in pain we are still individuals with talents, gifts and ideas of our own. We are each unique to this world and need to explore our own hearts and minds for answers and spend less time on the old self-pity path.

We have to look very deeply into the chest on some days to find humor but humor is to us what the sunshine is to the geraniums. We need it in order to live, to connect and to persevere. When life gets a bit too foggy and thick around here we always put in a humorous show or DVD. I got my husband some of the old Carol Burnett shows on DVD for Christmas and we’ve been watching the joy in those. Watching other human beings interact, be silly and laugh is wonderful fertilizer for the soul. Yes, we have to have joy and laughter in our magic chests to combat fatigue and sorrow.

Where are we as we gaze into our individual magic medicine chests? I can’t speak for you but I have discovered mine is filled with remedy after remedy in the form of sunshine, ticking clocks, hopes, blooming flowers, dreams and warm hugs both given and received. It is full of faith and that is a challenge these days when life inside and outside our bodies is so tense and yes, painful but it helps me to know and truly believe that good is stronger than evil, that life has healing answers for me and love is stronger than hate. Don’t give up my friends. Life is just that; life giving, nurturing and miraculous.


  1. Sue
    DHis improving …I think the antibiotics are making him a bit odd as well.but went out for a sandwich and then in the evening to photo a sunset . we went to a hotel I stayed at while DH went and took the photos there was a wedding going on lovely music and a lovely bride it made me feel so sad with myself for my dad.it just hit me…I had to txt my DD to appear busy with me crying..and she told me she’d been promoted and has to spend half the week in London which she will love.then DH came in and he had picked me a flower.life just churns and turns dont it?!
    So it’s nearly 4 am and I’m awake thinking about where the furniture is going in the new house….for the umpteenth time!
    It’s strange weather here they said it was 35c here last year well it’s only 15 today…but I prefer it
    Yes I expect all is getting busy for the fourth with you
    My hip I think is improving I ice it all the time can’t walk or stand for long but it’s not throbbing and burning as it was..still can’t lie on it tho
    Are you still eating icecream? I had some today again!
    Live Chris

    • Chris, sorry to you hear you had a cry about your Dad but maybe it was one of those cries that had to “come out.” Glad your daughter is doing well and is there for you. Hope DH’s antibiotics are about finished and he will get better.
      I hope your hip continues to get better. I know how much you have going on in your life and pray it all begins to calm before the storm of the move. Good to have packers but remember they’ll pack everything..even trash, etc.
      Yes I am still eating ice cream but had a stomach ache from it the other night. It was Rum Raisin and think the raisins are what did it…couldn’t have been the rum.
      We’re having a quiet weekend with lovely mild weather. A few errands yesterday. Sore today, of course. There seems to always be a price to pay. That’ the way so many of us have to live but I guess we should be grateful we are still living even if it is compromised a bit. Stay better you two, okay? Love, Sue

  2. Sue
    Yes raisins are no good for me either. I get trouble end of the next day.
    I try not to eat any peel although jacket pots are ok.love grapes,seedless,but can’t even them
    Hope you are feeling better today from the errands
    We went for a drive last nite ,came back hurt my hip..sore today.so it’s anti inflams..but they upset my tum and ulcers in mouth….it’s all a balance
    I’ll remember about the packers and rubbish.ill go thru it before
    Sunny fresh day here…bought a whole cooked cold chicken last nite,so just had some with jacket pot and lettuce .easy
    Hope all well

    • Chris, how right you are. It is a life that is lived day to day, meal to meal and often not much food to choose from.Got a note from the rheumy that I am borderline anemic so must eat better. SOunds like I need to get some spinach. I don’t eat much red meat at all so need to make up for that. It is always something.
      I am sorry your hip is acting up again. Darn thing seems to be demanding attention these days. Hope DH is better each day. How’s the dizziness?
      Lovely day here, cool yet sunny. Jim is off waxing his car. Quiet day for me. Know you’re looking forward to your new home and I know, I think we all like to arrange and rearrange the furniture when anticipating a new home. What fun for you and what good medicine. Love, Sue


  3. HI, All, thanks for the thoughts and prayers. My grandmother did well with her surgery and is feeling much better.

    Chris, how wise to hire packers. I do hope DH is feeling better soon. Such a hectic time when moving anyway, much less on top of all you were dealing with. Fun to think about where you will arrange furniture and the like in your new place, though. At least I think so.

    Preparing for the July 4th holiday here. It appears it will be a quiet one, just DH and myself at home. I have a couple of crab cakes and some steaks in the freezer. I think it’ll be a little surf and turf for us along with baked potatoes and maybe some baked beans. Sounds good to me. We heard fireworks nearby last evening, I expect more tonight and tomorrow. Thankfully, Sadie is not phased by the noise. Our one greyhound was and we had to give him some meds each 4th of July. I hadn’t heard of thundershirts at that time to try one. Maybe they weren’t even around then. Chuckling as I write, one of our cats is tearing around playing with a paper cup.
    Best wishes to all! Happy 4th to all our US peeps!

  4. Happy Fourth of July dear friends. You’ve all been very quiet this weekend and can only guess you’re busy with family, gardens, etc. Hope the weather is cooler for those of you who have suffered so much heat, drier for those who have had too much rain and sunny for those whose gardens need to grow. Very quiet here with lovely weather.
    Life continues to be an immense challenge each day with pain, gut issues and staying mobile. I’m having to get off a med I’ve been on for many years and having more pain so decided to try Turmeric after reading so much about it for joint pain and general help. After two weeks, I believe it to be helping, especially now as I cut down on the plaquenil. Eyesight continues to be an issue which I hope will resolve after off of that drug. Three big appt. in Portland coming up this week with oncologist, oncology surgeon and new pain clinic. I hope it is better than the last one but will see. Wonderful having Jim home now that he is retired.

    Lyn, good news about your grandma and yes I know we were all praying. Your dinner sounds delicious. Have a quiet, enjoyable time with DH. What an active house you have with all the joys the pets bring.
    Love to each of you, new blog coming soon. Sue

  5. Howdy all
    Lazy sort of day here for me. Overcast and humid. We had a wonderful rain last night. FM has gotten the fram and most of the roof done for the new porch, we sat out and had coffee listening to the rain last night. Church this morning. Then I made some healthy zuchinni bread ( whole wheat, stevia) and another trifle with angel food cake. FM is finishing the roof for the porch, tomorrow we are going to haul the old porch around back for a nice little stand alone patio, then start work on the new porch. It will be so nice. I have been reprinting some things to set out on it. Need to transplant some plants for it. Tomorrow night we are going to watch the fireworks on the river.
    Chris, glad you hired some help. You will be happier. If we get a new place, I think I will do that as well. I am not sure I can face another move like that. Jennie, hang in there. Throw away those old letters of your daughters, they will only cause you to remember hurts. I know. Just be patient , and let her know you love her. Stress will do you no good.
    Thank you for your prayers for my Nikki. Soon she will be living alone with her kids, something she has never done, and it will be difficult, but it will be healthier for her.
    New blog is up.
    Love to all

    • Tonie, I think Nikki will be empowered by living alone. In a way, she is already doing it by being the bread winner. The new porch sounds great. Know your FM will enjoy the Fourth and all the celebrations. I won’t tell Jim how well you’re feeding your friend. I hardly bake at all anymore.
      Having a stand alone deck could come in handy for projects, etc. Sounds like you are busy and productive in spite of the pain. Funny how life keeps rolling on with us or over us. Much love, Sue

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