Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday Gratitude: A Healthy Year after Back Surgery

A year ago today, my spouse had his successful back surgery.  I went back to see what I had written about it at the time; if you're similarly interested, this blog post is best for a general look at our experience.  This blog post comes at the subject from a spiritual angle.

I see this successful surgery as the start of a year of blessings for us.  We've had some stresses, sure, but nothing like 2012.  The year 2012 was full of full-out difficulty:  chronic disabling pain for my spouse, several rounds of lay-offs at work which included my job loss which resulted in me applying for the same job in the reorganized structure, all sorts of difficult stuff.

I am so grateful that 2013 was not that kind of year.

If we could have only had one of those blessings to happen during 2013, I'd have chosen my spouse's successful back surgery.  It has been so wonderful to see him restored to health.

But my joy is tempered by the realization that so many people aren't that lucky.  It's been a sobering experience to think about what we would have done, had we not had health insurance--drink more?  When I looked at receipts as I did our 2012 taxes, I was amazed at how much we spent on non-surgical pain relief, including bottles of aspirin and Aleve, bottles of alcohol, chiropractors and massage therapists.  What if we couldn't have afforded that?

I can't imagine how people with chronic pain cope with their lives.  Often they don't cope well.  I suspect that at the root of many people's difficult behavior is a pain issue.  Now, as I deal with difficult people, I try to remember that they might be the victim of forces I can scarcely understand.  I try to be gentle.

We were lucky; the surgery worked.  I am also sobered by the knowledge that we won't always have that good fortune.  We will all of us face decline and death, no matter how much we'd prefer not to.

Thinking back on my spouse's surgery reminds me of the many kindnesses I witnessed during his surgery and recovery.  We may think we can't do anything in the face of suffering, but our experience reminds me that even a smile can provide great comfort.

We can pray for those in our midst who are suffering pain or illness.  We can make a casserole.  If we've got a colleague who's in the grip of illness, whether it be theirs or a loved one's, we can help them get their work done so that they can attend to multiple priorities. 

I think of all the Gospel stories where Jesus attends to the sick.  It's this aspect of his personality that helped spread his message and boosted his appeal.  What might that tell us for our modern missions?

We live in a world that's full of pathogens of all sorts, a world that's desperate for healing.  How can we be part of that process?

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