04 Dec

About the value of small things in a life of chronic pain


About the Value of Small Things in a Life of Chronic Pain

Posted by
admin 19 April, 2010

There are days when I would rather “think small”. You know, The Lilliputians, The smurfs, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids etc. Small things and actions can also be beneficial and joy-giving. Remember the saying, “Many a mickle makes a muckle”? There is a grain of truth in it; one step at a time and we can achieve a lot. At first, let’s look for small things which can colorize our life. My parents always told me that “The best things come in small packages.” When I think of a small thing that would be both joy giving and beneficial, diamonds immediately come to my mind. These precious stones are beautiful and expensive, but there are many other things in a world of an equal (not necessarily monetary) value. Newborn creatures, plants’ buds and seeds also bring many possibilities just because they will grow. If not, small is always small, so it should be valued. What I mean here is that we have to learn to appreciate small actions, small objects, small animals, small plants, and other small things, since they are precious to us. Do not let the chronic pain overshadow those small treasures, offered to us by life. 
It was yesterday, when I started to think about the “diminutives”. I was in a garden, looking at the blooming hydrangea bushes, and I just couldn’t stop admiring them. Its flowers are white and violet, simply beautiful.
I felt joy and happiness that the plant managed to revive after last winter snow. I would even say that it never looked better. The bush has hundreds of little buds and bundles unfolding on every spring. Next to the white-violet hydrangea grows a blue- white hydrangea, both are of lace-cap variety. At the very end of flower bed also grows a pink-white hydrangea of full-headed variety. The last winter was really hard for me and my flowers, only they have managed to bounce back, and I have barely succeeded to make one step forward.
I love to look at the flowering hydrangea bush, and a thorny Rugosa rose growing right next to it. Their stems sprout onto the ground as if they wanted to create a colorful floral carpet, embellished by its tiny lavender flowers. It’s fascinating how their creepers reach the walls of our house, and entwine the windows with its delicate stalks. Sometimes I can see a bird looking for worms in the groundcover, but the bush is so thick there that I can barely see the legs of my feathered friend. Such wonders remind me of the fact that grass can be greener on our side. It does not matter that leaves fall in autumn, because they all will grow once again in spring. Flowers have to shed blossom so that other flowers could bloom. Isn’t it great that life provides us with endless supplies?
Another thing which brings me so much joy is breathing in the cool, fresh-scented air, brought by the wind blowing across the Columbia River. I take pleasure from it each time we go for a walk along the river bank. In the meantime, we often feed the always-hungry seagulls, crows, and hundreds of pigeons with stale chunks of bread. The “food news” immediately spread between the animals, and after 2 minutes there are more birds than breadcrumbs. They fly above us, and gather in groups by the river bank. At times we can spot a seagull with damaged leg, or an injured wing. Seems that life can be cruel to all living creatures. It’s so funny when the children laugh and scream after a gull catches a crumb in the mid-air.  Some of the birds keep the distance, but the more brave ones approach the place where we’re standing, to catch the best and biggest chunks of bread. People who use their eyes to see should notice and appreciate the world that surrounds them. It won’t do any good to focus on suffering, pain and self-pitying. Life is more than that.
Unfortunately, life is constructed in such a way that even small, and seemingly harmless things can get us into trouble. For instance, a spot of water lying on the floor, or a turned-up carpet can make us disabled for the rest of our lives. Taking too many pills after lugging heavy shopping bags can also be very dangerous. Don’t know about you, but I almost always forget to take the additional bag – isn’t it cruel? We can avoid the overdose by doing one small thing, namely to prepare a special medicine container to keep everything in order and straight (if needed). Other actions that can keep us safe are putting on shoes, or at least socks while walking on a slippery floor; holding the handrail while descending the stairs; turning on the lights where we can’t see the room/stairs properly, etc. I had to put up with these little lights arranged all over the house, prepared especially for such circumstances as late visits in the kitchen to take the pill and have a glass of water to it, or letting out the dog to the garden. To make things safer, we also should remember that our carrying and pushing abilities are considerably limited. Forgetting about all of the above mentioned precautions can effectively worsen our already hard life. One pound over the limit and we can irretrievably get into trouble. We all should take care of our lives properly, especially if we suffer chronic pain, take meds or have limited motion abilities.
It is a proved fact that people who work during the day, even for a few hours, are healthier, and more resistant to falls, than people who avoid activities. We need exercises to keep our cardiovascular system in a good condition, to maintain an appropriate level of cholesterol, and to train the muscles by lifting light objects. For instance, stretchy band exercises done regularly can prepare us for the everyday pains and aches. Take your time while training, it’s not a race. Step by step you will soon reach your destination. We can use some of the daily activities as stretching and strengthening exercises. How? It is very simple. Brush the toilet ten more time than it’s necessary. Rub the body lotion on your legs twenty times more, using the no dominant hand. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car as far from the store’s entrance as it is possible. All these activities will help you to strengthen your muscles and revive the damaged tissues. Your body might have indeed betrayed you (like my did), but there is no other person like you – remember that. There are many of us who have a chronic illness, and I think that we all should make friends with our pain. There is no point in fighting with something we can’t change (ex. our wrecked bodies). People who managed to reconcile with their suffering are wise and courageous. I have heard that it helped them to taste their lives for real, and forget about the distress.
You can lie down and take your life as it is, but you can also take a matter into your own hands and fight back. Step by step, breath by breath, day by day, and you will make it! Of course you can grumble from time to time – in my case it helps. Doing something for yourself can be quite empowering. We can devote the big things for sake of the smaller ones. The joy brought by small actions is comparable to the pleasures brought by the larger things. So why not ‘thinking small’ today? Look for the birds on a tree. Admire the blueness of the sky. And what’s the most important, spend 5 minutes on stretching exercises, because this will make you able to train 5 more minutes on the next day.

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