When I was younger, I always wondered why old people spent so much time talking about their physical maladies. Now that I am approaching old people in age, I get it. (kind of). But please intervene if I only talk about everyone who I don't really know- and you don't know at all that died- ie- "Remember Sally who I used to play cards with? Well her neighbors husband had a heart attack while mowing the lawn and he died. And Stan from the Meat Market just had a quadruple bypass."
I have arthritis and degenerative disc disease. It's not really a disease, it's just your spine getting old- even if you aren't old. Basically, the discs that cushion the vertebrae begin to dry out. Discs can also get damaged from normal wear and tear or an injury. I figured this out soon after I turned 30, and I had a ten month long severe headache. Turns out, I no longer had the spongey matter in between two cervical discs, and I had to get them fused. I made that sound like it was easy- it wasn't. It took months and months of advocacy and trial and error and medicines and procedures and specialists.
Sometimes there is no silver lining to the pain we are going through in real time, however, we might be learning skills that we will need later on in life. That research and advocacy and relentless pursuit for answers has served me well since then.
Did I tell you I had scoliosis as a child? Yep, I got to wear a real fancy BACK BRACE for years. Let me tell you, that sure was a blast. Especially around puberty where you already feel awkward and ugly. The brace didn't do its just (probably because I would go to school, and take it off and hide it in my locker for the day), so I ended up having my thoracic spine fused right after I graduated from college. I've got an 18 inch scar and unbendable steel rods on either side of my spine.
Now I can add arthritis in my knees and shoulders. And for the past month, my shoulders have been aching like crazy. Something to do with winter and rain and barometric pressure. I can't lift my arms straight up without wincing. My neck muscles feel like rocks. I've been doing lots of stretching and strengthening and popping advil like crazy. Sometimes it all depresses me. Sometimes it gives me something positive to focus on during the many hours I spend at home.
The other day I was able to get an appointment at a local Physical Therapy office for a massage. My first one in over a year. On a scale of 1-5, I like a 10+ when it comes to pressure. Please, get in deep, make my muscles feel like they are about to bleed and bruise pretty please. The amazing masseuse did an incredible job, and even went several minutes over our scheduled hour. I got in the car after to let Michael know I was running late, and I just started crying while talking about the massage. I started laughing while I was crying. "I don't even know why I'm crying." I said. Technically, I know it's called an "emotional release." It is because massage accesses the soft tissues of the body deeply, and it can unlock emotional energy locked in those tissue. I think that we think of emotions as arbitrary, ghost like things because we can't see them. But they are so very very real.
Sometimes life is hard, but sometimes it feels easy. Right now it feels easy. Don't forget to notice the easy. Here are some scenes from regular old ordinary life, which is my favorite.
I was sweating in the small booth, hands shaking while holding two year old Greyson tightly on my lap. We were at a Hearing Evaluation, and they wanted to see if he would at least orient towards the side the sounds were coming from through his head phones since he couldn't point or tell them. He struggled against the head phones, and I just knew the entire thing was going to be a bust.
I started to feel claustrophobic inside that booth and inside my head. "Michael- you come in here and hold him, and I'll see if I can help keep his attention on the outside?" There was a big glass window where the evaluator was running a switch board that appeared to be older than me.
Sitting still and Greyson were never used in the same sentence, and he was struggling. "Some kids are talkers, and some kids are do'ers" the evaluator said. The words felt like aloe on a sunburn- yes, my mind said. That's what must be going on with Greyson. He doesn't talk yet, because he's a do'er.
This was one step out of 100 that we had to take to get answers. It took so much work, and a willingness to change my own perspective to realize Greyson is exactly who he was meant to be, and as his Mother, unconditional love means accepting every single part of that. Imagine how sad you would feel if someone who you trusted with all your soul was constantly wishing you were something or someone else.
It's been almost ten years since that hot sweaty booth, and my throat hurts when I think about how scary the beginning was, and how different things feel now. Remember that if you are at a beginning of something in your own life. I promise things will look and feel different soon.
What are you holding inside right now? I think if we could see our emotions- like if they showed up as a color, we would realize how very real and how powerful they are.