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I Spy With My Little Eye a Life of Chronic Pain

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Let’s play some games. My little granddaughter likes to play “I spy with my little eye” while we’re waiting in my SUV for her brother’s school bus to arrive. Of course, she tries to win by picking out some obscure little item within her vision, like a tiny label on the rear view mirror; but I’m constantly finding ways to outsmart her. It’s a challenge. For instance, I’ve learned to check what direction she’s looking before I see the idea pop into her little head via her eyes.

I wonder what you would see if you looked out your window at home or in the car. How about right now from your bed or comfy chair? When I was thinking about this yesterday and was waiting in the car for her to arrive from her school bus, I looked out the window to spy all the things we all take for granted. I saw dandelions with their bright yellow faces, not yet turned into seeds of tiny parachutes; I spied young mothers pushing strollers to pick up their own first graders and kindergarteners. Young women with figures still recovering from childbirth, looking fatigued from what I would guess was a night of sleep disturbance. I spied a tiny blonde toddler who I have seen previously grab her “older” sister in a massive hug when she gets off the bus. I spied the vast Columbia River with its waters of deep cerulean blue as a massive barge was being pushed upriver heavy laden with its load heading for Portland.

I often find great comfort in the little things of life. We often mourn for and obsess about the big things we have lost and forget the little ones that are left for us. We have to remember to look. We can be blinded by simply not looking. Wives often complain their husbands can’t find an object lying right in front of them and in all fairness, vice versa. I can still remember my mom saying, “If it had been a snake it would have bitten you.” There is seeing and there is acknowledgement of seeing.

There is a blindness that comes with the obsession of the loss we have suffered physically, emotionally and financially. After we’ve done all we can do about all three of those, we have to face acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean we give up or give in; it means we adapt in order to still have a rich life. Let’s adopt a new word as our motto: adaptation.Laughter often accompanies this kind of acceptanceif you open your eyes. When being examined by a churlish doctor, you can notice he has too many hairs in his ears or nose or if she should change her perfume. We’re part of such a large, beautifully colored landscape and to not see it is a waste. Right now I spy a bed that needs making because I’m in it, crumbs from a spoiled dog’s Milkbone that needs to be caught in the Dustbuster, a warm cup of ginger tea with honey and my view that is partially occluded with sun streaming in the white wooden blinds, dulled by a bit of rain we had last night.

Sometimes we need to use “I spy” on ourselves when we look into a mirror. I often see anolder woman who needs to touch up her hair, pluck something, wear more moisturizer and cut or comb her hair. I prefer the frontal view because it doesn’t reveal to me the many chins I have from years of Prednisone therapy. We’re often overlooking the obvious which others are going to see so why not create a nicer view for ourselves and for them.

Another game we played is, “Let’s pretend.” Every kid knows how to play that; you’re a prince, a pirate or cowboy/cowgirl. You climbed a tree or played beneath its boughs which became a fort or a castle. I’m afraid the version we play could be more aptly named, “Let’s kid ourselves.” We all grew up with the old adage of throwing the baby out with the bath water and we unknowingly follow it by giving up more than we may have to in this life of chronic pain. I often beat the drum with all of you about using what we have left so it’s won’t wither and die. We don’t need to embrace disability. We need to fight it. It is a greedy game player and likes to win. We must be the winners. We defeat the act of kidding ourselves by working through the pain and doing just a few leg lifts, light weight lifts or whatever exercise is appropriate for your ailment or injury. Wiggle your toe; point a finger (at whoever you wish) or doing a much needed chore. It’s okay to carry one small load of laundry even if you can’t carry the big one. It’s okay to water your plants with a seltzer bottle if you can’t lift the watering can. There is no rule that says you can’t carry one book at a time, lift one light weight Swiffer mop and do half the kitchen today and save the rest for tomorrow. Maybe we should change the game from “Let’s kid ourselves” to “Let’s make our own personal rules of accomplishment.”

An old favorite game all of us grew up with and still play with our children and grands is “Blind man’s bluff.” Ask someone who isblind and they’ll tell you their other senses become more intenseand sensitive with this one vital sense being down. Their sense of touch is enhanced and they can appreciate the softness of a sweater, the silkiness of a child’s hair and more accurately hear the purr of a kitten. Can you or I? Most importantly, do we make the effort?

I fear we often let this particular game go too far afield as it encompasses all of our senses and makes us less sensitive to others. We become very egocentric when we suffer. Remember, we’re not the only kids on this block. You and I are missing a great opportunity if we don’t include others in our daily lives, online or in person. Sure, sometimes our memories are rough due to disease or medications, but the least we can do is to remember someone else’s name. It’s important to them and should be to you and me. We often repeat ourselves too often, I believe, in an effort to gain more sympathy but let me assure you sympathy is not all it’s purported to be. You can’t hug it, love it, pet it or grow from it. Now, admiration for trying, that’s worth going for. A badge of honor for hanging in there with life is also a worthwhile goal. Some of our rewards, actually, the most important ones have to come from within ourselves and fall only on us as the receiver in a private way. It can feel so good to do something we haven’t felt up to doing in a while, whether it’s a chore or a pleasure. I’m often so proud of vacuuming four stairs in one day and comfortable with saving the rest for later. Cleaning out one messy, catch all drawer can reveal all sorts of treasure and rewards in virtue and who knows, you might find something you’ve been looking for. You can keep the nickel, but you might have to finally throw away that old skate key or that one so tarnished it can’t be identified. You can keep that lost screw in a jar with others but that bug with all legs pointing up must go.

Yesterday when I picked up my grandson he told me they had had a funeral in his class for a caterpillar. I commented, “Well, that’s sad he didn’t get to turn into a cocoon.” He replied, “Well, he couldn’t ‘cause he was squished. So we dug a hole, put a leaf over him and then put a rock over that.” Well, that ought to do it. You see, even our small children know when life has ended. Yours and mine have not ended. We may feel squished and stepped on, we may be bent but we are not ended. Life is calling to us. We no longer have to ask “Mother may I?” Now, we’re all grown up and can decide what we want to do without asking first. We’re always told to ask our doctors. I only ask the positive ones. The negative ones don’t believe in my capabilities so I can’t be bothered with them or their attitudes. Therefore, today, let’s pretend we can do one tiny chore and receive the reward that comes with it. Let’s see it, plan how we’ll do it and then follow through. It’s Fall and many flowers in pots of all sizes are calling out to me from my porch and patio. They need to be pruned for winter and I can do it one pot at a time, sitting on a stool and try to envision how they’ll look next spring when they return along with me. I’m not squished yet.

Sue now has a Facebook page — check it out and “like” her now!

Last Updated:10/11/2012
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Date: 05.12.2018, 18:32 / Views: 72255