I have talked here about my friend whose husband is in excruciating pain. Pain medicines only give momentary relief. The pain is unremitting. Diagnosis has been difficult and we now know it is from a back fracture and a pinched nerve in the back. The question becomes what to do?
As we grow older the answers to medical issues becomes more complex. Can the person withstand the surgery? Will it solve the problem? If not what now? We tend to forget that not everything can be fixed to our satisfaction.
Life’s problems cannot always be solved the way we want. This is a hard thing to learn. My husband has always said “every problem has a solution but it may not be the one we know or want”. I am sure that we all know people who live with chronic health problems or who are disabled. Sometimes we don’t even see it. How often do we disregard the person who seems “less than” for whatever reason. We walk by and think “Oh too bad” and just keep going.
The same thing can be said about the treatment of those of us with emotional issues. Most people don’t understand and either don’t want to do the work to get it or just keep going.
Admittedly, it is easier to understand something that we have experienced ourselves. That’s why support groups with fellow travelers help. But all of us have been at fault. I can get the emotional issues but do not understand the breadth of some physical problems even with my medical training. I have a friend who has cared for her son with cerebral palsy since his birth some 50 odd years ago. She has ignored her own wants to support him and enrich his life. He has a brilliant mind but has to use a computer to communicate. Do any of us really understand the life of either her or her son? I don’t think so.
We need to strive for the kind of compassion and love that is shown in the life of Christ. We need to take time to listen and do our best to be a companion on the way not just a voyeur. If everyone could do this so many lives would be enriched.
Strive to live with compassion and love!
Sometimes things don’t go the way you planned. Today has been that way. My foot is still swollen but not bad. I planned to stay off it but it didn’t happen that way. Instead I spent part of the day with a friend who’s trying to get her husband admitted to the hospital. The medical system is really broken. Trying to get something done is almost impossible.
It is hard that when illnesses hits you and you have to fight to get help. We are aware that this is true for mental illness but now it seems it is also true for other ills.
Life can be frustrating. Sometimes we just have to take a deep breath and keep going.
Yesterday I talked about the importance of touch. There is another side to the idea of needing touch. It is very important that we learn to treat ourselves well. We can get some positive touch from things that we do. What do you like to do to make yourself feel better? I love smells so lighting a candle for the odor makes me happy. Slipping between clean sheets is something that I love. I love to take a walk with the dogs. A wonderful sup of tea. All these things tend to bring me down from whatever stressors are jumping on me.
While at my grandson’s wedding I was feeling stressed (weddings are always stressful for those involved) but really had no way to stop the cycle. I wanted to but I was away from home with other people and couldn’t think of a way to stop.
When I think back I realize that I could have taken five minutes to take a short walk outside and just breathe. The way that we do nice things for ourselves is a way of giving ourselves soothing touch.
The secondary benefit of this is that we are more ready to offer something soothing to someone else. Being kind to ourselves is a step in the direction of being kind to others. We will begin to treat others the way we treat ourselves. Kindness can start at home. Learn to take time to do something for yourself and let yourself pass it on to others.
A recent article was about the pain lessening effects of touch. A study was done with couples that showed just holding hands reduced the level of pain. I have been a nurse for a long time but I have always believed that touch heals. I have been with patients in the hospital who are in pain and can’t have more meds yet. I have gently held their hand or stroked an arm while speaking soothingly. They almost always calmed and were able to rest more comfortably until med time.
We humans have lived with others (i’m sure) since we lived in caves. We have been communal and depended on each other. I don’t think we are meant to live life alone. That doesn’t mean that we have to live with someone in our home but that we need community. Community is one place (hopefully) where touch can happen in safety.
It has been my experience that human touch is critical to our health. Babies who are not cuddled and held in the beginning of their lives do not thrive. Many of them have significant social disorders later in life.
We need touch. In my role as Parish Nurse I used some form of touch with everyone I visited. I never had anyone not want that. (I know some people don’t like being touched)
With all the issues in our society today touch has become an iffy thing. We are often afraid to touch knowing that it can be misconstrued. It is a tragedy that this is the case. We all need touch to be whole.
I have often said that anyone who doesn’t like living in the USA should have to live in a third world country for at least a year. We lived in Panama for two and 1/2 years and it made a lasting impression on me. There are so many things that I saw there that changed the way I think.
I appreciate that I can live in a place where the police and the military are not one and the same. I am grateful that my home does not have to be surrounded by walls with wire on top and the only yard is inside the wall. I am glad that the law does not allow me to be arrested and dealt with without trial or any recourse. I am grateful that there still is a semblance of a middle class and not just the very rich and the horribly poor.
While living there I made a car trip across the isthmus from Colon to Panama City. In front of me was a small bus called a “Chiva.” Along the road the Chiva stopped and I stopped behind it to watch a family get in the bus. There were what appeared to be several generations from young children to the elderly. Several men were carrying a small coffin. The bus started up and continued on the road for several miles where it stopped at the entrance to a cemetery. There was a priest waiting at the entrance and the family filed off the bus with the coffin of a child and followed the priest to the burial site.
I was moved to tears by this incident. Just the thought of how this family lived and coped with everyday life was overwhelming. So poor that they had to take a bus with the coffin to bury their child.
We are so blessed with the life we have. I know that there are communities that suffer from poverty and sickness here. That is why, although I can’t help elsewhere, I am called to help where I can.
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
For the last 40 odd years I have been connected to one or the other church home. First it was the Episcopal church I attended with my husband. The people there are wonderful and at that time there was a great minister. Later, after I was working for the Lutherans there was a minister at my husband’s church whose moral core I couldn’t live with so at my husband’s urging I disconnected myself from there.
Then 20 years ago (while still a member of the first church) I was hired by the Lutheran Church as the Parish Nurse. That was the perfect job for me as it married my vocation with my passion. The 20 years I was there I felt at home and completely fulfilled. Since leaving there I have been at a loss. I don’t feel the same at the first church and don’t feel connected to the second since their removal of my position was not done well. I think the powers that be in that church did not get the difference between a ministry and a job. I am sorry and feel that it was their loss.
The bottom line of all of this is that I don’t feel at home in either place. I know that I need to let all of the disappointment with both places go and seek out a place where I do feel at home. It matters greatly to me. For some reason I am reluctant to move forward with this and so don’t often go at all. This is not a solution but I seem to have little motivation to do anything.
Maybe there are times when we just need to sit back and just BE. I may be in one of those eddies where you just spin around and around. I feel connected to God but not to church. I do struggle with this when special seasons of the church hit me in the face. Holy Week is one of them.
It is important to move forward in whatever way will work for me. A period of absence and reflection is not wrong. I just need it not to go on for too long.
This verse seems appropriate.:
On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Psalm 62:7 NRSV
Do you ever have a day where you struggle to know where you belong? I have been at sea for over a year. I know that there is something somewhere that will fulfill this need I have to use the skills that God has given me over the years. I am working toward mediating for court cases but I don’t know if this is where I belong. The problem is that I don’t seem to belong anywhere.
It is a terrible thing to spend a lifetime acquiring skills that can be used to make peoples lives better and be unable to use them. In the last few weeks I have had some situations arise where I know that my ability to navigate the medical system is needed by so many people but I can’t find the place where I can use that. It feels so frustrating. Struggling through the maze of medicine today is so hard on patients. It is changing so fast and getting more and more complex. I wish I could see the direction that I could go to help and see clearly the path ahead. I want to know that this is what God is calling me to do or if I should just move in another direction.
I hate being in limbo! Again I am suffering from waiting. I have no patience. There may be a lesson that I need to learn before God opens the path in front of me. It has happened before and I have been the in wilderness before. I waited and the answer landed in my lap. I just need to listen for God and wait.