Many days in my life I allow the thorns to win. If it hurts, don’t do it. How many times are we told by others to rest? Rest is an all too welcome respite for many of us who suffer chronic pain but it can also be a killer. Muscles unused begin to wither and die. Hearts and lungs unchallenged by exercise, however mild, cannot fulfill their full and most helpful functions; therefore, we must conclude movement is a good thing and resting is wonderful but not the panacea for all our ills. Does it hurt to move? Yes, most of the time my answer would be yes.
When I have those all too frequent days I stay in bed, because of the pain I have all the time, I feel depressed and definitely lonelier. Television, movies, reading are all wonderful but we must move sometime. If we are still responsible for our homes as I am but with a great deal of help from my husband, there is always something to do. Now I realize cleaning a bathroom is not as uplifting as smelling the roses but it has its rewards. And there’s always a can of aerosol air spray if one must have roses.
I cringe to think about the way my home looks now compared to my standards of times gone by. I need to compromise on some things but on others, no way. I have a wonderful fourteen-year-old granddaughter who comes over after school each Monday and cleans my house. It’s amazing what that young swift, smart girl can accomplish in just a couple of hours. She never argues or backtalks, either. This amazes my daughter, her mother. Apparently, we grandma’s get the sweet end of the lollipop. Of course, I overpay her but having the work done and having time with her is worth it.
If a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, does a thorn by any other name hurt as much when you prick yourself? I believe we all need to beware of comparing our pain to someone else’s pain. Does a thorn hurt me more than you? Is pain relative? Yes, to a certain extent it is dependent on attitude but it is also very real. No, this is not to be a dissertation on pricks. I’m not that kind of girl; but I could be with very little effort. That brings to mind that old expression, if a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it, did it really happen?There are so many versions of that one; one in particular has something to do with bears and their bodily functions. Poor bears, guess we’ll leave them alone. My favorite one is on a plaque I gave my husband a couple of years ago. It boldly states, “IF A MAN IS ALONE IN THE WOODS, AND SPEAKS, AND THERE IS NO WIFE TO HEAR HIM, IS HE STILL WRONG?”
Another one of my favorite expressions is on a tiny magnet on my refrigerator and is attributed to Dolly Parton as she says, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” I love her humor and her self-deprecating way. I’m always amazed that very talented and well-endowed woman doesn’t constantly fall on her face. Gravity is a witch at times. On the wall next to my bed is another tiny wood sign, “If the broom fits, ride it.” In the hallway coming up our old stairs which are strewn with family photos in an assortment of interesting frames, I am greeted by a small sign which is just for laughs, “Trust in God. SHE will provide.”
I don’t believe there is anything more personal than what goes on between our ears and that includes our sense of humor. When a person doesn’t have a sense of humor, how do they make it through any of life’s little torments? They arrive in various packages besides health problems. Sometimes we forget that and can only see as far as our pain. “Pain sightedness” is very unwholesome and generally bad for your health and mine. It also makes us both into lonely jerks.
Yesterday I was awakened by the sounds of a skill saw as our house next door is being renovated. That mildly irritating buzz reminded me of an incident of far greater magnitude that occurred seven years ago out in front of our house, in the street actually. City workers had begun tearing up the street in front of our home and extending up the block. It was loud, messy and dirty. I had the fleeting thought that it would probably be the day for a loveseat I ordered about a month before to finally be delivered from Virginia. As soon as the thought flew through my brain, the phone rang. Indeed. The trucking company would be out in about 30 minutes. I explained the situation to the trucker and he assured me he’d find a way. With city construction trucks and orange cones surrounding my home I didn’t see how that would be, but he was a jolly, positive soul and assured me he’d make it work. When the time came for the delivery, I heard voices as the city workers and the truck driver were finding a place for him to unload. I love a small friendly town. After the poor man unloaded the huge box, he had to leave it on the lift and knock on our door. “Ma’am, I think you’d better come out and look at it. It appears to be damaged.” Yes it was. Some fool had dropped it or found some way to be irresponsible in handling it; the carton was torn and had been taped up. When we pulled off the tape, a large gaping hole peered at me from within. Stuffing was hanging out in a forlorn way when it became clear I would not be taking delivery on that particular piece of furniture. By this time the city guys with their hard hats on were interested to know what was going on and one of them hollered out to me, “Is it damaged?” It all struck me as so humorous. The poor truck driver was far more upset than I because he feared my reaction. I assured him it just meant I’d have to wait awhile longer and would have to be a bit rude with the folks at the factory and offer a few suggestions about their packing standards. He continued to stress out about it as he filled out the paper work for rejection and finally I heard myself say, “It’s okay. Nobody died.” That was followed by more hail and farewell in the street as he reloaded the shipment, accompanied by more kind words from the workers.
That whole incident reminded me of the relativity of humor and loss in our lives. We are all so very different yet so much alike. At various stages of our lives, living with chronic pain we find ourselves making a decision. Is this going to always be this way? Sometimes, the answer is yes. That is when we set out on the journey to find the most help for our money and our lives. We search for the best doctors, the finest treatments our insurance will allow and find ourselves thinking absolutely nothing is humorous. Our problems are the only ones we can see. Every problem adds to another and soon we’re overwhelmed and often buried beneath a pile of loss, bereavement, and self-centeredness which is displayed as self-pity. That doesn’t justify it as a good place to be. May I recommend humor and laughter as a way of life? It’s very effective for squelching pain. It fills your brain with something far more pleasant as well as accompanying endorphins.
Where does one find humor you might ask? First of all, consider your pain. Is it being treated well with medications, therapy and physical movement? Are you doing your share to help yourself or are you the lazy slug on the bed? I would start by cleaning up and fixing up. I know, that sounds strange but if we are clean and try to look our best, we then feel good about ourselves. That’s just basic life 101. Wash it, replace it or hide it.
Secondly, I look for humor. Put away that “slasher” flick unless it’s so campy it’s funny and read a book, call a friend or get out of yourself. Turn off the 24 hour news; what an awful idea that was. A brief trip to the market is usually full of funny incidents. You have to love human nature in all its forms and it’s usually there…humor. That is not unkind to see the humor in others, especially if you see it in yourself first. There are days I am scruffy, always wear a hat, drag along my steroid chins and fear to go near a mirror. Sometimes that’s all you can do, even with effort.
Try to think funny thoughts. Oh I know, send for the little white coated gents but it really works. Two days ago I had to go to the doctor and waited longer than usual before I went in because they had worked me in. I forgot to visit the restroom before I left and had to drive out to the vet’s office to pick up pills for one of our dogs. Needing to relieve myself, the thought occurred to me to ask the vet if they had a litter box I could use. Now, I realize that’s not all that funny but sometimes I crack myself up…and don’t get me started about cracks. That’s how I got into this fix many years ago but that’s for another day. Laugh. Open your eyes and look around you.
Yes, a thorn always hurts if you’re pricked but you have to go through them to get to the roses.