Friday, June 4, 2010

Advice: Take my own advice.

She is the friend I’ve known the longest. We went through puberty together where hay rides became car rides and girl’s night transformed into double date night.

We lived life loudly together with one of us typically experiencing a milestone before the other. The unspoken rule was to share all information in detail so that the other can be completely informed of what was ahead. This went anywhere from our first periods, first pimple, first kiss, passing the drivers exam and yes, the first of firsts.

She was the one to experience the first back injury and subsequent surgeries. I saw the pain etched on her face and echoed in her voice. Here was a mother of three energetic boys and a devoted husband who was becoming more and more depressed with the lack of her ability to participate in their lives to the fullest. It wasn’t until I fractured my low back five years ago that I knew her pain, physically and emotionally. This was definitely an experience I didn’t want to share.

After many years of agony and a slow loss for life, I chose to have a spinal fusion. I remember my final consultation with the surgeon prior to surgery. Tears stung my eyes and the tightness in my throat barely allowed the words to come, but I asked what was most weighing on my mind; will I be able to run? Can I ride roller coasters again? Can I walk long distances or ride a bike? My questions may have been simple, but these were what were most important. I will never forget when he looked me dead in the eyes and said I would be able to do anything.

Lying in the hospital room after the successful surgery, I remember my mother in law gently washing my face, arms and hands with a cool cloth to wipe away the sweat from my fever. I not only felt loved, I began to feel human again; a human with hope.

This week, my friend chose to proceed with a fusion. In the last few weeks, I have answered all the questions she could come up with, the big ones and the little. Today, I went to see her in the hospital – 3 days post op after her successful surgery.

I didn’t bring flowers; instead I paid it forward with a basket of wash clothes, lip balm and a brush. As I washed her face, arms and hands she began asking questions about her recovery and I saw the fear and doubt in her eyes. Occasionally, her eyes would wander to the wall where her walker stood – a symbol of pain and restraint.

I told her that walking was the key to healing. That exercise could no longer be something she did when she could fit it in, it had to become something her new life was built around. She had to see herself walking then running and swimming and riding roller coasters and living the life she wants. That everything she wanted in life was right in front of her, waiting for her to reach out and grab it and be happy.

It didn’t hit me until I was walking to my van that my words of advice had never fully been applied to my own life. Am I in pain? No, but I am not as healthy as I could be and certainly not as fit as I should be. My words of advice that she clung to began to mock me as I came to the realization that I was a hypocrite. I knew she could and would do what it would take to fully recover and yet nearly one year later, the pain is gone, but not much else has changed.

My inability to commit to anything that requires work and results in change will continue to hamper my ability to fully move forward. Eat healthier. Exercise. Get out in the world again and do the things I so desperately want to. The question is at what point will my intentions transform into actions? When will my long term well being become more important than the short term discomfort?

I guess I really should take my own advice!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Murphy… it’s time you take a hike!

We’ve all heard these phrases before and usually when we really don’t want to hear them… Murphy’s Law, Karma, what goes around comes around and getting your comeuppance – typically when you are wishing someone would.

Not too long ago, people would refer to my life as “Murphy’s Law according to Kathy”. For years it truly felt like no matter what I did, things would go wrong, things would happen that seemed out of my control and turn my world upside down yet again. Here is where another phrase has etched itself into my brain and makes me ill – what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. Blah on that, I say!

Lately there have been books published that pawn off the idea that we can command the mighty Universe to bring good things our way simply by asking nicely with focus. I still haven’t finished the book and it sits in its rightful place in my bathroom collecting dust. Maybe I don’t have an open mind, or maybe my Christian faith got in the way of thinking this was nothing more than a marketing ploy preying on people who desperately need hope. In my humble opinion, God is the only power I need and the only being I need to get down on my knees and pray to and let’s face it; He’s not one you command.

Do I think there is merit in the power of positive thinking? Absolutely I do. As much fun as people have made over the years of the SNL character who repeated positive reinforcements to himself, I do believe that telling yourself that you’re worth it, you’re good enough and you are special will eventually bring ones self confidence to a higher level. No one else has the power to allow negative words to affect how we feel, but if we force ourselves to repeat positive thoughts, only good should come of it.

Looking back on all those times when someone would refer to my life as following the laws of this Murphy character, I can clearly see how those words affected how I felt, how I acted and mostly how I chose to handle the particular situation. The bottom line: I reacted like a victim. “Oh, poor me… Murphy strikes again… boo hoo”. There were plenty of times I was defeated before the battle even began because I chose the attitude of a fallen warrior instead of the victorious knight.

So, as of now, I refuse to take the victim approach, I refuse to lie down and simply take what circumstances have handed me at the moment and not think I deserve better. I will stand up for myself and say “Murphy, you are no longer welcome in my life!”