Different ways to be with pain and potential final moments

Among the many recent articles on the earthquake in Nepal, this quote in the Washington Post by a climber (Steve Watkins, age 38) stuck with me:

He ran to his tent, convinced he was in his final moments, muttering what he feared were his final thoughts to any higher power that was with him high on the mountain. “So it ends now. Thank you for my life. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a wonderful life, but thank you. Thank you, thank you.”

While I think of myself as a pretty grateful person, when I am in pain so bad that I just want to die, I don’t typically think “thank you.” I mostly think “This is SO NOT FUN.”

I have been saying that more and more frequently on this chemo break. I’ve had pain that, during the day. makes it hard for me to stand for very long and, at night, leaves me unable to sleep. The pain pops up on multiple spots of my body and it is sort of like managing toddlers: You get one spot calm and happy then another needs attention, making it impossible to concentrate on anything else.

I so appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts for my health and well-being, as I have needed them these past weeks.

On the plus side, I appreciate that I can think more clearly, that I can often eat (and food tastes good!) and that I am more available for the kids. I was grateful to sob my way through a Mother’s Day event at my son’s school and celebrate his First Communion (with A LOT of help from my parents and sister –they throw a good party!).

Speaking of my son – he has switched from gymnastics to baseball, and I appreciate being able to watch his games.

I love watching Little League games. I love having a reason to spend that much time outside. I love watching the kids when they play and when they are bored. I love meeting up with the other parents and chatting. I love that the slow pace of the game sets a slow tone for the spectators. I love being forced to sit and simply be present.

During the first three days, we had one hour of tryouts, two hours of practice, a two-hour scrimmage, and, finally, his first game.

At this time, it was late April and the spring weather had not yet arrived. I wrapped myself in a sweater and jacket. In my arms, I juggled sweatshirts and jackets for my kids, blankets for me to sit upon, sandwiches in case anyone was hungry, and a bottle of water for me. Under all this, I had the dog on a leash around my wrist.

I set up shop by the third base line and settled in. Normally – or maybe I should say, formerly – at these kinds of events, I would wander around to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. But I didn’t have that kind of energy, so I sat, happy when people came to me. And when I was alone, I got a chance to observe.

I also got time to feel my aches and pains, which range from hovering in the background to all-consuming. I sat in my own shell and missed the person I want to be at these games.

A man’s cheering voice snapped me out of my interior world.

“You got this, Henry!”

Deep and low but not too low, with an encouraging tone, it was pleasant to listen to. The voice easily carried across the field as he continued to cheer on the pitcher and fielders.

“Good catch!”

“Throw to first!”

I couldn’t make out who it was, but his voice conveyed pure joy, his love of the game and of the boys playing it.

Eventually, our team got three outs and the boys changed sides. The batters ran into the field and the fielders ran toward their dugout. At the same time, the coaches moved their positions on the field and a young man who looked to be in his late 20’s rode across the field in a wheelchair. He would occasionally pop up on two wheels or stop for a moment to chat briefly with someone. He eventually positioned himself just past third base, right in front of me, so I realized that he was the third base coach for the other team.

When he started to cheer on the batters, I recognized his voice.

“You’re a hitter!” he would yell with a joyful grin. “Just wait for the right pitch!”

As he cheered for his players, he restlessly rolled his wheelchair around, back and forth. From time to time, he would lift the front wheels into the air, and then spin the wheelchair a bit to one side and then the other.

I assume that he did not feel 100% like himself. And, I wondered, how does he manage to exude such joy?

As I sat there with my insides pulling and tugging and not feeling 100% myself, I was lifted by some of this man’s wonderful energy. I was definitely inspired by his way of living, and I think of that now when I am with my kids and feeling crappy: How can I instead live the moment with joy, despite how I feel? I feel so grateful that he crossed my path.

In the meantime, I’m moving up my CT scan. I was supposed to get scanned at the end of the month, but I want to find out what is going on in there. So my appointment is now on Tuesday, May 12 at 11:30 and I meet with the doctor later that day to discuss the results. Prayers and positive thoughts welcome!

Thank you so very much. I hope that, whatever you are dealing with, the joy shines through. Or maybe the gratitude. Or if your preferred approach is “WTF?”, then good for you for being present and dealing with it in your own authentic way!

With love and blessings,
Marie

6 thoughts on “Different ways to be with pain and potential final moments

  1. Marie, I had not seen this post before your email tonight. I am so sorry for your pain!
    Don’t miss the person you want to be at these games. Embrace the person you ARE at these games! Tuesday, May 12 at 11:30 I will be stupidly and unimportantly at the Dept. of Insurance protesting points assessed on my insurance because of a mega snow induced incident in Feb 2015. Who cares what happens there. What happens with you matters. I will be thinking of you when I tell those small minded insurance people to screw themselves….not in those words of course.

  2. Beautifully-said as always. How so very “slap in the face from God/higherpower to see that the person I would theoretically envy turns out to be in a wheelchair, totally present. I wish you pain free days, hours, nights.

  3. Dear Marie,

    I don’t know how you do it. Usually I hate that phrase but I really don’t know how you know to say just the right thing to me at the right time. Oh wait. You weren’t talking to me? Well, it felt like it. I love, love, McLove what you say. And I love you.

    Jaime

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