As many of you know I recently herniated a disc in my spine. Since then I’ve gone to PT, had cortisone injections, and took pain medication after pain medication in order to perform the most basic movements.
Today I couldn’t make it any more. My surgical consult isn’t until the end of the month. I landed in the ER at the hospital where my neurosurgeon practices. They consulted with him and put me on some heavy duty meds normally given by IV in the hospital. I am now going back tomorrow for an emergency appointment with the surgeon.
I have learned something huge through all of this. The medication today is only thing that helps to somewhat dull this pain. It isn’t gone, it still feels like I live with searing hot daggers lodged in my spine. I have shooting, squeezing, blood-curdling muscle spasms all down my right leg. The pain is like fire and acid and nightmares too terrible to remember. I need this medication they gave me. I cannot make it without the medication I got today. I am living in pervasive, festering, agony. I feel that my life and my sanity are forfeit if I do not have the tools to survive until the appointment tomorrow. But I will have the appointment.
The good news for me is that soon this will be over. There are medical interventions available to me in order to help. As unbearable as this is, I know it will get better for me. Here’s the thing. What if it didn’t? Re-read the last paragraph. Re-read it and replace the pain in my spine with the pain of depression. The pain of mental illness. The pain of addiction. For some people that pain is real. There is no emergency appointment with a surgeon tomorrow that will make things all better right away for an addict, a person with a mental illness, a person with a deep and unyielding depression. These people? These addicts? They aren’t so different than me. That second paragraph is probably the closest I will ever come to walking a mile in their shoes.
Today I am humbled. Today is the day that I can honestly empathize with the birthmother of my children. I may wish her well and pray for her and hope she finds healing. Yes, I do all of those things. But do I understand the things she did? Can I fathom the things she left undone? Do I, in my heart of hearts, believe that I am somehow better? It’s an ugly thing to admit about myself but, yes, sometimes I do. Tomorrow I will have answers. Tomorrow I will have my way out.
Let me take today to be humbled. Let me take today to understand, at least a little bit. Let me take this horrible day to realize that we are not so far from those we may judge. We are not so far from those addicts, those hurting, or those in need. We are all human. If only we all had the promise of help tomorrow. For this experience I am truly grateful.