Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's the back talking.

I was reading a short story the other day in which a young man visits a neighbor and finds neighbor's wife tight-lipped and cross. She isn't rude to him, but he notices her snippy remarks to her husband. The husband excuses her gently, saying, "It's not her, it's her arthritis talking there."

The excuse struck me forcefully as I continue to learn how to live with chronic back pain. At least 45 minutes out of every hour, I, too, am tight-lipped and barely able to answer or respond to my children or husband. And I can read the same excuse in their eyes, "It's not her, it's her back talking."

And then I start to wonder: Is this going to be the story of the rest of my days? If, for some reason or another, this pain becomes a life-long companion, will I somehow disappear into it so that everyone I meet thinks, "It's not her, it's her pain"?

I know of--and have met--men and women suffering constant pain who radiate something else. In a way, they have disappeared into their pain but emerged free. Even as their bodies ache, their words and thoughtfulness move in almost a different sphere.

I have had moments of this. I find my laughter with my children more genuine than before, when I was comfortable. I find my husband's heroic virtue more knightly than when I was too self-sufficient to notice.

But I hope to bring those moments into every moment of the day--those long stretches of time when I can't manage a smile or when the thought of making dinner or reading a book sends me into the glumliness. Slowly, I want my heart to stretch so that all my burdens are truly light.


lois in Indy said...

May God bless you and heal you. Praying. lois

Melanie B said...

Oh Erika, my prayers are with you. I don't even have the excuse of pain; my burdens are small though I tend to magnify them all out of proportion. but I too want my heart to stretch so that my burdens are light.

Jon and Keri said...

We're praying for you!

Maica Kozak said...

Erika - love you and miss you!!

Peter and Nancy said...

I have had debilitating back problems too, to the point where more pregnancies were not an option (which brought the gift of adoption into our lives). It can completely consume you. Sorry for veering off the spiritual track . . . but I do want to share something that's made a dramatic difference for me (which may or may not help you, depending on the cause of your pain).

I do a strength and resistance class three times a week at my YMCA, and it's improved my pain 85%. I still have trouble with my left hip most days, and my lower back sometimes . . . but I can function normally most of the time now. Getting my core muscles VERY strong was key (and physical therapy helped not at all). Hope you can find some kind of relief.