Today is one of those days were discouragement keeps knocking on my door trying to find entrance into my heart. Stubbornly reminding me of all the goals and dreams that I have not meet and pointing out all the accomplishments and privileges that my peers enjoy. Whispering in my ear that life is and has passed my by. Insisting that my humble little life is a failure because I have not hit the mile markers of life such as getting a car, a job, a husband, and children like all my other classmates.
When discouragement comes to visit, it is amazing how as soon as its footsteps cross the threshold happiness threatens to go on vacation. Probably because joy, peace, contentment, and self-esteem cannot endure discouragement’s contentious presence. There is something about that dreaded visitor called discouragement that drives away pleasant guest such as hope and comfort.
I came across this poem the other day and it brought back so many memories. My family was privileged to have Natasha in our lives for 9 wonderful years. Like my adorable little Happy, she slept on a pillow in the corner of my room and followed me wherever I went. She was a wonderful friend and faithful companion. More than once my special pup had found a way to alert my parents to the fact that I was in need of medical care. One time she spent over an hour going from the front window over to my Father, then over to me to smell my breath, before heading back to the window. When my Father figured out that she was trying to tell us that something was seriously wrong and called 911, I had to be rushed to the nearest hospital because my blood pressure and pulse were both over 200. Or the time she cried mum with such pathos that I knew my Mother needed to go to the ER, and ended up spending a week in the hospital because she had water building in her lungs
There is so much more that I would love to say about my special dog. How she loved to sneak bones out of the box when we were gone. Not so she could eat them, but so she could hide them in the sofa, chairs, or even our made beds so we could find them and play a game of chase with her when we returned. How like Happy, she found joy in startling my mother. Of the time she gave us a fright when she found my plate of chocolate chip cookies and ate every last one when no one was looking, the way she hated riding past run down homes, and the proud smile on her face when we finally moved into our dream home.
Thanks to another flare of my iron deficiency anemia I have not only been enjoying a debilitating bout of fatigue, chills, and ghost pale skin, but I have been dealing with another round of vegetarian pica. Vegetarian pica is a term that I created to explain my sudden desire for and acceptance of meat when my iron takes a rapid plunge. Having been raised a vegetarian, I had no taste of desire for meat. Growing up the idea of consuming the dead body of a sad faced cow or chicken had no appeal to me. I much preferred my vegetarian hot dogs made of unfeeling soy than the ground up body of a once living and breathing animal.
Due to a miserable infection I have been unable to write for the past few weeks. I knew for a month that I was developing an infection but it was one of those cat and mouse type of infections that left me miserable one day, and the next the symptoms seemed to subside. My nasal cavities felt miserable, but the pressure was too mild for me to go to the doctor and confidently declare that I was having another sinus infection.
Then a couple of Sunday mornings ago, I woke up with a full fledge infection. I was dizzy, feverishly achy, had a miserable head ache, and my sinuses throbbed like base drums. At that point I was more than confident that I had an infection and was eager to go to the urgent care and bring an end to my misery.
In some ways, after years of being chronically ill, I have found myself becoming s somewhat cynical of the world around me. It is not something I set out to do, and it is an attitude I try to repress, but years of discouragement and disappointment take their toll.
Friendships that you thought would last a lifetime come to a quiet end as life for them continues and you remain an frustrated prisoner of pain. Caught up in the excitement of a big new world begging for them to explore, the idea of visiting an old school chum locked in time soon loses its appeal. Thoughts of that old friend are replaced with the joy of reaching new milestones such as graduating from college, getting the first job, dating, marrying, buying a home, and having children. And without meaning for it to happen you have been reduced to a memory entitled “What was her name again.”
For years, in between my bouts of debilitating pain, I have been quietly writing. Creating folders of poetry, short stories, and even a book that sit quietly on my bookshelves waiting for the rare occasion when I would pull them off the shelf and read them. And that is where I expected them to stay all the days of my life gathering dust and growing yellow with age, because I had no idea how to share them with the world.
For the past two summers all I could think about is how much I want a pool. My Father has not been to well the past couple of summers so I have had to help him mow the lawn. The early part of the summer, while not fun, was not so bad, but by June as the temperatures soared into the nineties, the only way I could manage a step was by imagining the fun of floating lazily in the refreshingly cool waters of my own pool. Day after day I imagined, I hoped, and I dreamed of the relief of splashing around in those cool waters that would help to relieve the aching of my weary bones.
Sadly as much as I longed for one, I knew there was little hope of attaining my wish as a few minutes of dream crushing research revealed their steep price. But if a permanent pool is currently out of the question, what about a temporary above ground pool. Considering that a 15X4 foot pool can be $300 dollars I could at least hold some type of hope for buying one.
Last week I wrote about how the ants had infiltrated my garden box and infested it to the point that my family and I had to take down one of our man made garden boxes because there were so many and they were causing my little dog Happy Go Lucky problems. He was getting so many bites that he was experiencing reactions to them that left him miserable.
To add to Happy’s misery, it seems that Happy is in the process of developing arthritis. We noticed that over the past few weeks he has been having more and more trouble jumping up unto and down from the sofa to enjoy his favorite past time of sitting on our laps. A couple of weeks ago the discomfort got to bad that he could not even lay comfortably in his bed, but would slowly hobble around the house in circles with his head hanging low vainly trying to find a way to get comfortable. And he was in so much pain that we had to carry him to and from the backyard. When we took Happy to the vet he noticed that Happy flinched when his back legs were moved and told us that he probably developing arthritis.
Probably because the greater concern was Happy’s upset stomach that was keeping him from eating, we left the office only with a medication to calm his upset stomach. But while he might be in the early stages and not yet in need of a strong pain med, it was clear that he was in enough pain to impact his choice of activities.
We were worried and wanted to be able to help alleviate Happy’s pain. But how? Not knowing what else to do I took to the internet to find some natural remedies to help my little Happy pup. And I came across several articles recommending the use of a heating pad. After consulting with my parents we decided to give it a try and pulled out their old electric blanket. Within moments Happy, who had reached the point that he was reluctant to sit for more than a moment on our laps, had settled down and fallen asleep. By the end of the first treatment he was limping short distances in the backyard and within a couple of days to our relief he was back to his bouncy, eagerly barking self.
Now every morning Happy jumps onto my lap to enjoy his time under the heating pad. And if I should forget he lifts up his head and gives me a funny little stare until I remember and pull out the blanket. Then he stretches himself out and takes a short nap.
While I am so glad that this treatment is working for my little Happy, I find it so funny how we are so ready to do things for our four footed family members that we never would think to do or would make time to do for ourselves. As I sit here typing I am lying in a half curled ball on the sofa leaning on a pillow and the arm of my sofa for support because I am in pain. Yet until this moment it had not even occurred to me to pull out the old heating pad to see if it would relieve my own increasing pain.
It’s an amazing thing, if we are the ones in pain we find it so easy to brush it off and determine that it can wait for a more convenient time to be dealt with. Stopping to deal with it only if the pain becomes so unmanageable that we cannot move. But let one of our four footed friends show the least sign of discomfort and the world comes to a halt as we hover over our little friends frantically trying to find a way to bring their suffering to an end. It just shows you what the power of love and a pair of heart melting eyes can do.
Time, I think that I am so painfully cognizant of it because thanks to my chronic health issues I lose so much of it. Everything in my life has to be planned around those precious hours and days that are lost to the debilitating waves of pain and fatigue that repeatedly force me to take a time out.
Time is the most valuable commodity that we have. With it we buy every aspect of our lives. From study time to family time, to the lazy afternoon at the beach, time buys it all.
While we think of money and all it allows us to buy, dream about the lifestyle that piles of money in our bank account would allow us enjoy, we little realize that the most precious asset that we own is time. Without time a room full of gold and jewels would be of no value, it would offer us no worth.
It is only with time on our clock of life that we can think, grow, interact, and understand. It is only while we have a deposit of time in our account that we can stop and take a leisurely walk on the beach, pick up a book and read, learn a new language, enjoy a sunset, paint a mountain scene, give a hug to our loved ones, and the countless wonders that belong to the living.