Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Things We Take For Granted

I think we've all heard the words. And, if you're like me, you've probably rolled your eyes after hearing them. The past year and a half has dealt to us much struggle and disappointment (along with countless blessings too, I must add. Can't forget about those blessings!). At times, it bordered on unreal, as things spiraled down and down until you couldn't possibly ever believe the spiraling would stop. Many well-meaning family and friends (and even casual observers of our situation) would shake their heads and say with a smile, "At least you have your health." Cue: eye roll, please.

Apparently, when all else is in the proverbial toilet, one is supposed to take comfort in the fact that one's health is above average. Always seemed like a trite and flimsy viewpoint. Even a little insulting. Not anymore. I will never again roll my eyes upon hearing those words. There is nothing trite about it. Health matters.

There's nothing trite about wanting to read storybooks to your children, but you can't because your vision is blurry and you're too weak to hold the book open.

There's nothing trite about wanting to fix your family breakfast, but you can't because standing up makes the room spin and you start throwing up.

There's nothing trite about wanting to give your kids a bath, but you can't because you haven't found the strength to shower yourself in nearly 3 days.

There's nothing trite about wanting to comfort your crying baby, but you can't because any sound that hits your ear makes you cringe in unspeakable pain.

There's nothing trite about wanting to listen to your child excitedly tell you about her trip to the store, but you can't because your system is so overloaded by pain-killing narcotics that your mind is total mush.

There's nothing trite about having your health. When you have your health, you have options and choices. Sure, it's up to you at that point whether you choose to exercise those options and choices. But, they are there for the taking! Normally, my day is filled with choices and options:

Sure, it's a pain when the baby cries for hours on end and won't sleep, but at least I can pace the floor with him. Or I can sing. Or I can cry too. ;)

When the children are squabbling and whining over every little thing, I can whisk them both off to the kitchen to make a special treat. Thus, eliminating an escalation of frustrations and having a new snack to nibble. There's something magical about cracking eggs and stirring flour in a big bowl. And my son loves the sound of the mixer (go figure. I say go with what works, and the mixer works for entertaining him and staving off crying jags).

When I am overwhelmed by laundry, cooking, and cleaning, I can choose to dive right in OR I can wave the white flag and surrender with the kids and a stack of books on the couch (surrendering is almost always the best plan!).

But when something overtakes you and eliminates your choices, great sadness sets in. I have felt so powerless and almost non-existent these past two weeks. When you are not part of life and the living going on all around you, it is a very lonely and sad place. Never can I take for granted my health. Not being fit in my mind and my body has cost me dearly. I have missed out on the joy, the silliness, the daily laughs. My children have grown another 13 days older, and I have missed it. Everything. The big, the small. Of course, I'm not the first to say this, but at times like these, you realize that the small moments really are the big ones.

I missed my daughter "reading" to my son, "because Mommy's sick and needs to rest for a few whiles."

I didn't hear the cute songs my daughter made up while she built some really impressive train tracks and tunnels this week (but my Mom and my sister did hear and told me there were some precious lyrics thrown in there).

I didn't hear the calm and comforting voice of my husband reading the stacks of library books as he became the one and only bedtime storybook reader.

These past two weeks I have spent more time in emergency rooms and in CAT scans and MRI tubes than I care to recall. I have been receiving painkillers through IVs, assorted prescriptions on my kitchen countertop, and through a continuous dose from the skin patch on my chest.

If you don't know me or I've never mentioned it in the past, I am one of the biggest anti-pill people you'll ever meet. I didn't choose drugs to numb the pain from my 2 herniated disks and broken tailbone after a riding accident. I chose hypnosis for childbirth. I even told the doctors upon discharge from the hospital after major intestinal surgery: "Keep your prescriptions. I won't use them." I just don't like popping pills. Even if I need them, I try to find another option. So, this constantly drugged version of myself really isn't "me" at all. But if it's a choice between a writhing-on-the-floor-with-pain, sobbing, hysterical me or a much quieter, albeit still miserable me, I guess I'll choose the one that doesn't scare my children and my husband so much.

And I will pray fervently for the day when I'm feeling so good that, on those crazy days to come, I'll smile and remind myself that at least I have my health.

{No worries about this blog space becoming a serious and depressing place to visit. Just wanted to get my thoughts down, for my own reference more than anything else. But reading through it makes me want to hug my dear ones a little tighter and squeeze as much fun into our days as possible. And that's why I posted it here. Back with more uplifting thoughts soon!}

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