Monday, April 21, 2008

Hobbled and Humbled

I needed and got a kick in the pants today at church, I had been feeling pretty sorry for myself after a couple of recent events, but I think God wanted to put a little more gratitude in my attitude today.

Last week I had another in a long string of eye appointments to determine whether I should re-do an unsuccessful Lasik procedure. I’ll admit that one of the reasons I wanted to get rid of my contact lenses in the first place was because after 25 years of pulling and tugging on my eyes daily, I was getting pretty wrinkly. I was hoping that in addition to stellar vision, I would be able to leave my eyes alone and (hopefully!) halt what I saw as too-rapid aging around the eyes. Well, not only is my vision not great at this point, I’ve had so much pulling and tugging and examining and medicating in the year since my surgery, that I kind of wish I had just kept the contacts.

Anyway, I was feeling kind of bummed about my latest bad eye appointment when a mishap occurred. I was walking Shadow when I fell into a hole. In my own driveway. Ouch. I sprained my ankle. The next morning, as I hobbled on crutches in the kitchen, I fell again, slamming the toes OF THE OTHER FOOT into a kitchen cabinet. Crack. I broke one of my toes. I spent this weekend popping Advil and hobbling to the kids’ games. I was also feeling pretty resentful of my husband who, in my opinion, was not being attentive enough to my condition. I’ll admit I was being passive-aggressive, but I was hoping for some cooing and concern, “Oh you poor thing! Do you want me to take you to the doctor? We must get you checked out!”

In our 16 years together, I have learned I need to be blunt, even forceful, about my needs. “I need a nap. I need you to walk more slowly so I can keep up. I need food in the next 6 minutes or it’s going to get ugly.” You get the idea. Sometimes he doesn’t. But this time I didn’t want to have to say, “I need to keep my feet up for the next 36 hours.” I wanted him to suggest it. Bad idea. This is the same man who thought it would be a great idea on the day that my daughter was induced, right after the doctor had “stripped my membranes,” if we would WALK to an outdoor shopping center about ½ a mile from the hospital to kill some time before delivery. It was 95 degrees in mid-July. I put my swollen foot down at this suggestion, and he looked shocked. So, unless I am bleeding from the head, or have a baby visibly coming out of me, I know I need to make my needs known loud and clear to dear hubby.

As I hobbled into church during a pounding rainstorm this morning, my tiny broken umbrella looking like a mangled pigeon over my head, I was feeling pretty steamed at hubby and pretty sorry for myself. Hubby had to go to an earlier service because of another obligation. The two complaining kids and I headed to the elevator rather than the stairs. The only other person on the elevator with us was Kevin, a young dad of four who is dying of an incurable disease. I was on the elevator because my toe was throbbing. He was on the elevator because he was incapable of climbing stairs any longer. Hmmm.

I deposited the kids in their classes and headed to my own, late of course. It was led by a silky-voiced retired lawyer who held his printed pages up within inches of his face. He showed us the font size of his typed notes—at least 48 point. He has a degenerative eye disease and said to us as he struggled on, “Never take your eyesight for granted.” Double hmmm.

Both of these events helped me put my complaints in perspective. I can see well enough. My toe will be better in a few days. I have a husband with integrity and a good heart. The kids bickered in the back seat all the way home. We pulled up to the house and saw the gutter had pulled away from the house and rain was getting in. We opened the door to a wall of flatulence from Shadow so vile and intense that the kids ran for cover. I smiled and walked over to the screeching Carbon Monoxide detector to shut it off, its lit panel spelling out one word only—“GAS.” Home sweet home, and I’m grateful for every bit of it.

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