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The gratitude of pain

I’ve had this blog post circulating in my head for some two months now. When it first came to mind I couldn’t get it onto the keyboard thanks to pain so great in my right shoulder I was unable to type or write. In fact, at the time I struggled to even brush my teeth or do a number of tasks I had previously assumed were a given.

It got me thinking about how little we thank our bodies for the good days and what we are able to do with them, yet we are so quick to admonish the parts that don’t function well when we need them.

This post isn’t because I wish to list my medical ailments and woes, nor bore you with my pain stories. Those who know me, know what I am referring to, but I do on a regular basis deal with a a considerable amount of pain and discomfort. Last year, I was given a reason to feel pain – 14 years after my initial consultation I was given a diagnosis that gave it a label finally. My doctor in Melbourne remarked upon my coping strategies and commented that he was amazed that a woman my age (then 27) could live a normal life in so much pain. My answer to him was simple, as it has been to any concerned friends or colleagues who have made similar comments. I tell them that I am grateful for my pain free days: I’ll climb mountains when I can and when the pain comes back I simply sit down for a bit and find a way to be grateful for what I had been able to do until then. Sometimes it lasts a day, sometimes weeks: it tests me, depresses me, limits me and really angers me at times. In fact only last night I was sitting on my living room floor trying to find a comfortable position whimpering in pain, feeling sorry for myself.

But gratitude is really the only thing I have. I never know when it will come back or how long it will linger for, but it’s taught me to really live in the moment and to grasp opportunities when they arise. If someone says “let’s go for a hike” – on a pain free day I will jump at it, because next time perhaps I won’t be able to.

It’s taken years and years for me to understand my body and its ever-changing needs and demands. I accept help when it’s offered, but try not to need it knowing that ultimately I am on my own and relying on others only makes you useless when they are gone.

So today I will do my stretches, take my vitamins, smile at the sun and see what my body will allow me to do. I I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow, but I will do whatever I can today.