Thankful for my health

I miss my happy thumb...

In my earlier years, I didn't have the appreciation for my body that comes with age. It seems as though you never notice how much you need your thumb, until you smash it in a car door and think, "I miss my happy thumb!" I think that's true of all of us. As teens, we eat as much junk as possible. It's not unusual to spend the majority of the week's meals dining at a place with a drive-thru. Not only that, but alcohol, or recreational drugs- come on! How much abuse can a body endure? Health is a blessing that goes uncounted until something jars you into awareness. That may be a family member's illness, a friend's struggle, or any number of influences.

In a dark basement...

I was enormously blessed to have gone my whole childhood without incident. Sure, I had my share of ear infections and seasonal colds, but nothing to write home about. I didn't have as much as a cavity until my late 20's. There were people in my life that suffered arthritis, depression, high blood pressure, but nothing life threatening. The thing about health, is that we see it everywhere. When you're at the grocery store, you may see someone using a mobile cart, but on average- the visible people in our world are functionally healthy people. This is an illusion. When I worked in hospice, I came to understand that the vulnerable and weak in our world are hidden in homes across the street, in the trailer park, in a dark basement, or living with assistance in nursing homes. There is a great deal of suffering that is simply hidden from plain view. 

Weep- literally from your skin...

Working in healthcare, I've seen and heard about everything that can go wrong with the body. For example, if your kidneys don't work, you can't clean out your system or eliminate all the fluids built up each day. Your body can bloat up and weep- literally from your skin, if you don't have working kidneys. If your pancreas doesn't work properly, you end up with diabetes. If you can't regulate your sugar, you can damage your nerves, go blind, lose limbs from infections...it ravages your body. I could go on and on. I've said before, all the parts are important. For all the intricately perfect communication that is required between all our cells, tissues, nerves, and muscles to function in total fluidity, we have just as many infinite things that can go wrong. Think about it. For every day that you are able to exercise, eat, sleep, and breathe without distress-you are well. You may not fit in your skinny jeans, or have the best marriage, but you have health. It's a big deal.

My body tried to die- a few times...

There was a year that was particularly horrible for me. My body tried to die- a few times. I had five hospitalizations, and several surgeries. I was in my late twenties, and by most standards- the healthiest I should have been in my life. I was kicked down as low as it gets before you walk into the light. Don't get me wrong, I saw the light- I just didn't go. That year, I spent my days regaining strength, weight, and navigating life with a new understanding of vulnerability. I felt a powerful drive to advocate for the sick. A fire. My road to social work was born from a perspective that many lack in healthcare. I know what it's like to be a patient. To be spoken to like I don't understand anything, that it's my fault. That I don't need to know, or it's too time consuming to explain. To be rushed and overlooked. I decided then, that I would be a voice for the scared, and the sick. 

An absolute gift...

Every day I come to my office to greet my chronically ill, and sometimes (very) colorful patients. They may take 30 medications, and have no idea what they're for. They may walk with a walker, breathe with a cannula- delivering their oxygen, and perhaps illiterate. I will teach them. I will listen, and they will be heard. I'm so blessed to be able to serve others with compassion and patience. I don't tell them- I know. I know what it's like to be frightened. To be poked and tested, until you wonder if you have any fluids left to give. To be unsure of tomorrow. I'm so thankful for my health. The days I'm greeted without pain, or condition are an absolute gift. What are you thankful for? Happy Gratitude Tuesday.

AM