Friday, May 23, 2008

Why Does Getting Better Usually Involve Feeling Worse? (by Gayle)

If you read Earnest Talks, you’ve read about our dog Shorty and you may even know he is being treated for heart worms. We knew he had a mild case of the little buggers, when we adopted him last December, but they thought his preventative medicine would do the trick. Last week, I took him in for his 6 month check up. Our vet decided we needed to go ahead and treat Shorty’s heart worms more aggressively. The first injection left Shorty sore, droolie, lethargic (but restless), and obviously confused – much like Ron after a recent alternative treatment for his arthritic knee. (There is an orthopedic surgeon in Irving who sharpens his scalpels when he sees Ron’s name in the appointment book. He can’t wait to replace those knees. Ron is trying just about anything to avoid this outcome. Ron blogged about this treatment which he describes as torture.)

I went outside to check on Shorty and found both he and Ron in the backyard. You could see the love and despair in Ron’s body language as he watched Shorty’s unrest. Had there been another observer in our yard that day, he or she would have seen the love and despair in my body language as I watched Ron watching Shorty. Ron noticed my surveillance and just looked at me and shook his head. I could tell he was close to tears. In nearly a whisper I said to him “welcome to my world.” His gentle eyes told me he understood what I meant. He knows I struggle when I see his pain. He said, “at least I can talk”. I remember thinking that while we humans can talk when we are in pain – often we choose silence. I’m learning to live with the silence when it happens. I try not to take it personally, but the damn helpless is the hardest part.

I felt a strange sense of validation when I saw my helpless on Ron’s face. I believe it’s part of loving fiercely. There are things we just can’t "fix". In my worst moments several years ago when my best friend was dying, I found comfort in the words of Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s poem – The Invitation .

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

Ron and I both knew this knee treatment would make him feel worse before he got better. We knew that Shorty would feel worse before he got better. I even know when clients walk in the door of my office they may leave feeling worse than when they came. The doctor who's doing the alternative treatments for Ron has Marine's t-shirt which says - "pain is weakness leaving the body." I think what we don't often take into account is how darn weak we are going to feel while we watch someone else's pain leave their body.

Thankfully, winter leads to spring. The earth may get cold and hard and the tree are barren but new growth lies just beneath the surface hidden from sight. Austere hibernation is a vital part living. You can’t hide it, fix it, or fade it. You just sit with it, sometimes hold a hand, and keep breathing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well said and so many can relate to this Goofy