“The Hip Bones Connected to the…”

chain link fenceI never wanted to be one to grow older and complain about all my aches and pains, so I swear, I’m not complaining here!  There is a moral to this story, I promise!

You probably have someone in your life that seems to thrive on relating their latest illness to the world.  I remember a neighbor years ago who lived on the other side of a chain link fence from me.  I loved spending time outside, either soaking up the sun or working in my garden.  Because of this one neighbor, I felt I had to operate in stealth mode to enjoy my backyard.  Venturing out the back door involved preplanning.   I avoided times that my neighbor was sure to be outside.  I’d peer out the windows for any sign of movement around her house and if the coast was clear, I would venture out.  I cautiously remained on the alert for any sound from across the fence, watching from the corner of my eye with one foot pointed in the direction of my door.  I was ready to make a mad dash for the house if needed.  If my neighbor managed to catch me off guard, I’d be stuck listening to all her health issues until I could think of an excuse to break away.  It was the same dreary conversation, over and over again.  You know what I’m talking about, right!

I’m not going to be that neighbor!  This blog is about being real, right where I’m at today.  So for those who care and have read any of my previous posts on this aging body, here goes.

First, I’ll give a little update on the abdominal issues.  If you need to know the back story on this one, you can catch up here with: “I’m Not Average”Apparently, I’m not average at all.  I’m an overachiever!  In this case, it’s not a good thing.

I got to spend a day in the ER last week because of my midsection.   The issue is that I build up large amounts of scar tissue from to many surgeries and being septic twice now.  The scar tissue causes obstructions.   The doctor said that the average person with my scar tissue issues, has to have surgery every two years.  I’m two months away from the one year mark of the last surgery and I’ve experienced symptoms of a partial obstruction twice now since the beginning of this year.  In previous events related to this, that’s been the pattern prior to the hospitalizations.  I’m updating you on this one, not because I’m looking for sympathy.  But, if you’re the praying type, maybe you could swing some prayers this way.  Another surgery would not be a good thing for me!  As a matter of fact, one doctor said it would be a mess.  OK, enough on that!

Here is what I want to focus on today.  It’s my “pain in the neck”!  It was in December when I found out what the problem was.  I have three bulging disks in my neck and two more disks with bone protruding into the nerve.   Thankfully, there is not so much pain in the neck anymore.  Most of the pain runs down my arm and my hand feels like it’s been asleep much of the time.

I’ve been in physical therapy now for a couple months and I put myself in traction at home every day.  Things are improving!  Initially, I had to give up running, but I’m happy to say that I’ve slowly been able to work my way into “minutes” of running on my schedule.  I finally have a couple days this week where my coach was able to assign “miles”, instead of “minutes”!  If you’re a runner, you can understand how this makes me want to do a happy dance!

Being in physical therapy for different parts of my body since I took up this running hobby has increased my awareness of how kinetic changeamazing our bodies were created to be.  You might remember the song we sang as kids, “The hip bones, connected to the leg bone.  The leg bones connected to the knee bone.  The knee bones connected to the …” and on it goes.  It’s all part of the Kinetic Chain.  Each joint is connected by bone, muscle and tissue to the next joint and the next and the next.  When the movement of one part of our body is hindered or a part is injured it affects the other parts in the chain.  You might not even have symptoms of a problem right away.  Injuries can build up over time and all of a sudden, your body is screaming at you.  The pain you feel might not even be where the root of your problem is.  The problem can originate somewhere up or down the chain.

I love the analogy of the different parts of the body being like us, who we were created to be with the gifts and talents we each possess.  One person may be like the mouth.  They are just naturally a very vocal person with a gift of eloquent speech.  They are able to be a voice on behalf of those who have no voice.

shoulder for cryingOne person may be like a shoulder.  They are built to be strong.  They’re the burden bearer or a shoulder to cry on.  They’re not only able to carry their own heavy loads, but also the loads of others.

Even the unseen, seemingly insignificant parts of our bodies; all have a specific function that is necessary to our existence.   Each part is connected in the Kinetic Chain.   If one part is hurt and neglected, the other parts of the body will be affected.  What good is a mouth if it’s wired shut?  A mouth without the tongue to taste, teeth to chew and a throat to swallow is useless.   A mouth without a head and a face to hold it in place would just look weird.  It needs the other parts to fulfill the purpose it was created for.

This is really what’s on my mind today.  Sorry it took me so long to get here.  It boils down to the simple fact that we need each other!  Why do we isolate ourselves from others?  How can we be so proud and arrogant to judge another person to be of lesser value than ourselves?  Why is it that so many try to operate on their own, without the help of others?  Remember Herby, the dentist from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, as he declared, “I’m independent”?  Even Herby found out he needed others, but almost at the cost of his life.

I’m guilty of all of the above at one point or another, so I’m not just talking to you.  That neighbor across the fence needed me.  I listened and tried to be kind, but I really didn’t care that much.  I avoided her in every way I could.  I really couldn’t help her with her medical needs, but I could have offered encouraging words or maybe a smile to brighten her day.  Maybe even I could have enjoyed the outside I loved, by helping in her yard.

It’s true, when one part hurts, the others will hurt.  Turning a blind eye to the needs of others will eventually affect you.  Devaluing those who work under you in the workplace will eventually affect you.  Neglecting the people that are a pain in the neck, butt or whatever, will eventually affect you.

No, we can’t be all things to all people.  We weren’t meant to be.  But we can be the best at being who we were created to be and using the gifts and talents we were given for the betterment of humanity.  When we refuse to function and fulfill our purpose, when we become intolerant, unfairly judge, criticize or belittle another human, we hurt a part of ourselves that is valuable and necessary to our existence.

So here’s the moral of our little story today.  We, as a member of the human race need to start focusing on our overall health and well being.  We need to start thinking long term, for the sake of our existence.  Let’s begin to take better care of ourselves, which means taking care of each other.  I need you and whether you like it or not, you need me. You’ve heard it said, “It takes a village…”  All of humanity is a part of our village, our Kinetic Chain.   So let’s, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.   Just do it!

change

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My Open Letter to a Friend…

tearDear Jane,    (Name has been changed.)

I really don’t know where to begin.   You’ve been on my mind a lot lately, as I do indeed understand that your circumstances are overwhelming.   In just a short span of years, you’ve lost your parents, your husband and pets that were like your children to you.  If dealing with these losses weren’t enough, you have a daily struggle with the disease that has been the cause of way too many paramedic visits to your address.  Add to that, the loss of balance that has resulted in several falls, causing multiple breaks and surgeries to repair your broken bones.  I know what follows surgeries; long recoveries, physical therapy, many follow up appointments and bills.  If all those things aren’t overwhelming enough, add the fact that you do all of this alone now.

You’ve felt abandoned by the little bit of family that remain.  Your days and nights are spent alone in your recliner.  Your wheel chair stays at your side for the short trips to the kitchen and bathroom because you’re still recovering from a broken bone.  Yes, you have your one remaining pet, but for the most part, your little house is quiet.  Voices that once filled your walls are now gone.  One voice remains though, that won’t stay silent.  It’s a taunting voice that brings torment.  It plays like a tape on constant rewind.  It tells you over and over again, “I can’t do this anymore” or “I don’t want to do this anymore” or “I have no reason to keep on living”.  What’s scary to me is that you’ve listened and started to believe that voice.

I remember the days when you were very different.  Your life was full of activity, full of family and friends.  You had many people surrounding you with love and you loved them back with your kindness, encouraging words and generous gifts.  You loved giving gifts to people around you, but your greatest gift was your compassion and your laugh.  I loved hearing you laugh.  Yes, you still had to deal with that childhood disease, but that didn’t stop you from opportunities to enjoy time with family and friends, opportunities to live.

But yes, you are different now.  Circumstances have caused rooms that were once filled with light to become dim and even dark.  I stillgrief hear the laugh at times, but it’s not the same.  The laugh begins to emerge for a moment, but it ends abruptly as if it’s stopped by an invisible wall.  Each time the laughter ends, the invisible wall is quickly revealed.  It’s a memory, memories of what’s been lost.  So much has been lost…

In place of joy, there is sadness, anger and bitterness.  You’ve built yourself a little refuge, surrounded yourself with this invisible wall, each brick being a memory of someone or something that has hurt you.  Somehow you feel safe in there, alone.  So you keep building, but the reality is that you’re cutting yourself off more and more from family and friends.  The wall isn’t invisible anymore, either.  You’re isolating yourself, one brick at a time.  Your wall may keep others from seeing you, Jane, but I can see.  I still see you in there.

You used to like pretty colors, but these bricks don’t make for a pretty room.  Unfairness, injustice, sadness, anger, death, disease, backstabbing, lies, betrayal; yes these are the bricks that life and circumstances have given you.  These are the bricks you were given, so you used them to build your refuge.   I’m no interior decorator, but this is not the room that I would picture you happy in.

No one would dispute the fact that life has been unfair to you.  Anyone would readily affirm that you have good reason to be depressed and angry with your circumstances.  You have indeed been repeatedly dealt some knockdown, drag out blows.  Not just once or twice have you been hit, but over and over again.  Of course, you would seek refuge from the onslaught.  Who wouldn’t?  Anyone would seek a safe place.   So bruised, bleeding and eyes swollen shut, you did what you could and stacked your bricks, one on top of another.

bob wire wallYour refuge is not as it appears to you, though.  The reality is you’ve built yourself a prison with these bricks.  You’ve let me and a few others peek over those walls, but I’m afraid for you, Jane.  I’m afraid that if you keep using these bricks and build your wall any higher, I won’t be able to reach you anymore.  No one else will be able to either.  Your prison will grow totally dark, completely quiet, and you will be intolerably alone.

Yes, life handed you these bricks.  They were the closest ones to you, the easy ones to grasp.  The thing is, just beyond those bricks were some other bricks, bricks that were much prettier colors.  I know they seemed too hard to reach, but they were there for you to choose.  Yes, they took more effort to get to; I mean a lot more effort.  You would have to use what little strength you had left to crawl over the ugly ones to reach them.  They do have rough edges and sharp corners that could and probably would hurt you more.  It’s hard to see with eyes that are almost swollen shut, but just over those bricks are the pretty ones…

Life is full of choices, opportunities.  We may not get to choose our circumstances, but we get to choose how we respond to them.  I’m not just saying this lightly.  I know it’s really difficult to choose sometimes.  The constant battle of the voices in our ears is truly like we’re in the middle of the argument between the images of good and evil on our shoulders.  And then there is the battle of the will and emotions, fierce warriors they are!

I’ve seen you in your warrior mode before, though.  Living with disease all of these years has given you a strength that many lack.  That in itself has made you a strong warrior.  But I’ve seen you made stronger by other things, too.  You’ve used your determination and strong will to win, many times over.  You may not think you have what you need to make it through all of this, but I know you do.

I miss my old friend.  I miss the warmth and joy that was once there.  I miss her smile, her humor, her laugh, her love of people.  I’m asking for her to break free from her prison.  Jane, come out from behind that wall, please…

I know it’s not going to be easy, but I know even more that you can do it, Jane.  The first steps are going to be the hardest of all and only you can take them, because right now, we can’t reach you.

First of all, stop building with those ugly bricks.  Stop rehearsing all the negative memories over and over in your mind.  You may not choose what thoughts come to your mind, but you do choose the thoughts that get to stay.  When the memories of betrayal, lies, and all those ugly bricks come, kick them away.  They have no place around you.  Lift up your head and look at the light.  Instead of using your inner strength to build a false fortress, use it to crawl over that prison wall.

That’s what we have to do when we’re down.  We have to get up, even if we can barely crawl, we have to choose and make ourselves doLet go on hand it.  The farther you crawl, the closer you get to the beauty that once surrounded you.  Keep your eyes focused on all the colors just ahead.  As you crawl forward, the bruising will fade, the bleeding will stop, the swelling will go down and your eyes will see clearly again.  You will come to a place where you will be able to reach out your hand for help and allow others to touch you once again.  Yes, there is risk involved with that.  You could and probably will experience some hurt along the way.  But it’s better to hurt with friends who can help you heal, then to slowly bleed to death inside a lonely prison.  With each effort, no matter how strained, weakness will be replaced by strength.  Darkness will become light.  Hope will take the place of despair.  Bitterness will be replaced by forgiveness, anger replaced by peace and sadness replaced by joy.  Love will once again rule your heart and fill your life.

woodsYour life isn’t over, Jane.  There is a chance for a new beginning, starting today.   There is hope for your future!   Say yes, Jane.  I miss you.  Many of us miss you.  Choose life.  Please, choose life.

You know I love you!  Your friend, Bobbi

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If  you find yourself in a place of despair, hopelessness and helplessness or have thoughts of suicide, please use the courage you have to seek help and wise counsel.  Here are some numbers to call:

Crisislink – 1 703-527-4077 / 1-800-237-8255

National Suicide Prevention Line – 1-800-784-2433 / 1-800-SUICIDE

http://www.crisislink.org