Chronic pain is my constant companion, but it is certainly not my friend. So every so often we have to sit down and have a long talk and I tell it how very annoying it is and beg it to go away. Yesterday was just such a day. Despite my usual medications and precautions I ended the day in more pain than I care to tolerate and I was not looking forward to my very necessary trip to Walmart. But ornery woman that I am, I gritted my teeth and went anyway.
I was annoyed as soon as I got there, because despite it being a Monday afternoon, I had to park about twenty cars away from the entrance. But it was immediately apparent to me that God wasn’t going to let me slide into a pity party. The first sight that greeted me was an elderly woman navigating her way very slowly across the parking lot with one of those three-footed canes. “Okay,” I thought, “If she can do it, I can.”
Well, you should be able to guess how the rest of the shopping expedition went! A man in a wheelchair seemed to turn up in every other aisle I visited. At one point I was stuck behind him as he slowly made his way around some other carts. Another woman with a cane followed me around. A woman with a trach tube in her neck joined me in the bread aisle. Listening to her wheeze through her neck made me ashamed of myself. (And also instantly took me back to the day I witnessed an emergency tracheostomy.) And to top things off, a young couple had a conversation in the produce section that left me shaking my head, and feeling so grateful that at least I have a brain!
But God wasn’t finished with me. Wonderful, sweet Linda Clay was also shopping and gave me a hug. Just before she left she turned and told me to “keep that happy spirit”. Yes, God, message received, loud and clear.
I had plenty of time to think as I drove home. My mother spent years suffering bouts of mental depression and anxiety. I have friends and relatives who cope daily with diseases and conditions that I have never experienced. I seldom even get a cold. I have, so far, survived this flu season without so much as a sniffle. Migraines, which plagued my early years, rarely bother me anymore. So I am left with only the ravages of time and injury to remind me that my body is somewhat frail. So what! I will be 63 in a couple of days and this body has done a LOT of living. You would be so very surprised by some of the things this old lady did in her earlier years. And some of you probably recall that my accident record is a family joke.
So pain is the devil I know, but most days it is barely static in the background of my life. I don’t mention it a lot because I absolutely hate pity and don’t deserve or need it. I also don’t want anyone to think that I would let pain interfere with my job as a teacher. The day I think my pain level is high enough to affect my teaching is the day I plan to retire. And as a point of clarification for anyone wondering, I only take a prescription anti-inflammatory combined with Tylenol. I have been prescribed several of those “designer drugs” that warn “may cause suicidal thoughts or result in fatal events” and I have thrown the samples in the trash. I told you I was stubborn and ornery. I refuse to willing give up my ability to think in exchange for less pain. And I don’t think I would be too fond of a “fatal event”!
I mention this today because I know for a fact that I am not alone. My husband goes to work each day with arthritis pain. There are actually some things he can no longer do because of pain and weakness in his hands. I know many of you are suffering silently today. I would not offer to trade with you for fear that I would not be as strong as you are in your situation.
God gives each of us the strength we need. Sometimes we just need to remember to ask for it, and to be grateful that we are not suffering even more. I pray that I continue to function as well as I can for a few more years. I’ll pray that you do the same.
And yes, I am feeling much better today…