Earlier this summer, I was starting to grow worn out. Despite my best attempts to be an eternal optimist, I felt like I was smiling through gritted teeth. I cried, I screamed, I was miserable and unpleasant to be around. It was as if my world was crashing down around me; pieces of me fell away like bits of plaster. I tried to keep reminding myself that much of my life consists of “first-world” problems: having difficulty getting up from my plush, motorized easy-chair; needing assistive devices to walk to our fully-stocked refrigerator; having access to insured, quality medical care; or having to use our indoor plumbing in the middle of the night. I’m acutely aware that I’m very fortunate. I’m extremely grateful for my incredible family, who have nursed me back to functioning many times without hesitation. I’m blessed to have amazingly supportive, kind friends who cheer me on through the hardest times. However, after my 2-month hospitalization from March to May left me weaker than I had been in a long time, I felt like I could never catch a break. I was anxious and sad. I began to fear that my latest challenge (kidney dialysis three days a week) would be the straw that broke this camel’s aching back.
Then I made a decision to focus on the good things. I saw how many moments made my struggles worthwhile. The sunshine on my face, a joyride under blue skies, a cold treat from the Ice Cream Truck, or a long visit with a good friend; any of these could flip my attitude from dark to light. I’d forget that I’d have to endure kidney dialysis the next day and the cramping and extreme fatigue that comes with it. My memory would lapse when it comes to my inability to go for a simple walk or climb two stairs. When I’m feeling strong-ish and have limited pain, it’s not so hard to put on a grin. This is what people most often see and commend. But I’m no hero. A martyr I am not. I’m an ordinary woman doing the best I can with what I’ve been dealt. Many people have much more reason to lament their circumstances.
Most aspects of my life are improving now. Dialysis isn’t so bad anymore. I’m working with physical therapy and occupational therapy to improve my strength and endurance. I can get out of the house more easily and I’ve been taking full advantage of that fact. I even went kayaking on a quiet lake and paddled the entire perimeter! Things are definitely looking up, and I’m so grateful for that. I now experience contentment and peace more often than not. Some days are downright great! I will keep on pushing myself to get stronger and keep a positive outlook, because life is so much better when I do. Some say the grass is greener on the other side, but the grass on my side is green, getting greener.