I woke up at least four times in the night last night and each time I woke up the arthritis in my hands made them more stiff and uncomfortable. As I was complaining to myself when I woke up this morning about this new two-month-old malady, I saw a picture of one of my high school classmates in his hospital gown with oxygen tubes sticking out his nose and I thought, I'm not so bad off after all.
I have to take a high powered diuretic that sends me to the bathroom at 15-minute intervals for about four hours each morning which, needless to say, is frustrating and inconvenient, to say the least. And then I thought about my neighbor who just learned he must spend three days a week and four hours each of those days in dialysis for the rest of his life. My urologist on Thursday told me I have normal kidney function, normal sized prostate, clear lab tests, and he would see me in two years. And I thought, I'm not so bad off after all.
It has taken me roughly six months to recover from a severe attack of vertigo in May of last summer during which time I have had to work hard to recover my balance and feel like doing any thing at all. I just learned that one of my St. George neighbors who spends summers in Chicago had a nasty fall that landed him in the ICU and has taken him months to recover so he can return to St. George this winter. On Wednesday, my cardiologist assured me I have no signs of congestive heart failure, that my echocardiogram and EKG are normal except for chronic A-fib, and that all my blood and lab tests are normal. She told me that at least 20% of people over age 80, including her dad, are in chronic A-fib and they just learn to live with it. And I thought, I'm not so bad off after all.
I am just learning to deal with pain, since I have never had any before. My first inclination on beginning to suffer pain from hand arthritis is to do one or all of the following: cry, cuss, read and recite the Book of Lamentations, complain, give up, and proclaim my misery. My wife reminded me of how much pain she chronically suffers in various parts of her body and basically advised me to accept the fact that "it is what it is." And I decided right then and there, with a sense of shame and a large sense of compassion and love, that I'm not so bad off after all.
We all need to remind ourselves continuously that things could be worse and that we do, indeed have countless blessings that enable us to keep going, to endure pain, to endure discomfort, to accept our situation, to love those who care for us and help us and show compassion for us. We can all think of reasons, no matter how dire our consequences, why we may not be so bad off, after all. And realizing that fact can be the most important realization of our lives.