Without experiencing pain and sorrow, we would not know the feeling of joy. I’ve always found this to be an unfortunate reality from which there is truly no short cut or escape.
Walking from the office to my car in the parking lot today, I noticed that my head was drooping a bit lower than usual. Since people “hang their heads” for several reasons, I thought about which pertained to me:
- Sunshine in my eyes – There was definitely a lot of sunshine, but it wasn’t near as bright or reflective as usual.
- Safety from falling – Granted, I am a klutz, however, I know that there are really only a few “bumps” that I have to worry about and they aren’t that big of a concern.
- Shame – I wasn’t hanging my head in shame.
- Self-esteem/Shy – I was completely alone and I’m not shy anyway.
- Sadness – Ahh, yes. I believe this is the reason.
I would consider myself still “young” in many ways, but today I feel old. About ten years ago I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I remember the day that I saw the specialist. The waiting room was filled with older people donning white or gray hair. I was the only unwrinkled person and also the only one not using the aid of a cane or walker.
After being led into a room, I waited patiently for the doctor and read the charts and information on all forms of arthritis and bone disease. My elbow at the time was red, hot and three times larger than it should have been, but I was sure that it was just injured. Unfortunately, the doctor took one look at my elbow, then my knuckles and gave an acknowledging smile.
During the appointment, I went through a battery of tests and the nurse was a true vampire with all her vials filled with my blood. I was sure in my mind that there was no reason to worry because I was young. Needless to say, young and old alike are afflicted with every disease. I cried many tears feeling sorry for myself when the sad news was later confirmed. My mantra for quite a while was “Why me?”
For the most part, my arthritis stays controlled without extreme medication, but I make a special effort to be very kind to my bones. With much trial and error, I’ve picked up a few tricks that help me avoid frustration at my lack of strength and incapabilities. Simple choices or changes lower the number of inflammation flair ups that cause pain such as not over exerting, not twisting caps that are stuck tight or opening cans manually.
This whole week I have hurt. When I am very still, my entire body throbs in unison with one aching pain. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I had only hurt on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, but the ugly swollen knuckles and sharp shooting pains have continued 24/7 each and every day.
While staring down at the pavement as I walked to my car, I felt very sorry for myself and then I saw a black round spot. It was immediately recognizable as an old glob of already-been-chewed gum. At one time that piece of gum was probably a bright, cheerful color and very much desired by the chewer. Today, it was flat, hard, and dirty black with chunks of trash and rock in it. Totally undesirable.
That gum is exactly like my arthritis. I want it to disappear. The pain wears me down and the effect it has on the way my joints look and feel make it totally undesirable. However, the sidewalk continues to serve the purpose it was built for in spite of the dirty gum stuck to it. After crying for a few moments in my car, I wiped my eyes and told myself a few things that I think are important for all of us to remember…
- It could be worse, so be thankful for who we are and what we already have
- “This too shall pass,” and suffering can bring out the best in us all
- The unpleasant trials and tribulations are meant to keep us humble, teachable and make us stronger if we do not fight the lesson to be learned
- Without pain and sorrow, we could not enjoy the feeling of true joy
As you can tell since I typed this post with fat fingers that look like cow utters, I will not let my arthritis defeat me. I have come too far to stop now. Besides, I have so much more life left to enjoy.
Thought to remember: Black gum gets sticky if left in direct sunlight and still has e-l-a-s-t-i-c-i-t-y when stuck on the bottom of a shoe.