Grace Under Pressure

I think we’ve all known folks who fall under the category of ‘Everyday Heroes’. It could include family, friends or complete strangers – doing things for others.

However, I would like to expand that list to include those who carry on despite what, in the normal scheme of things, would debilitate most others.

This is marvelously illustrated in the 2014 movie, ‘The Theory of Everything’, about world-famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and his fight with (ALS), or motor neuron disease, that has gradually paralyzed him over the decades – only able to communicate now though a speech-generating device. 

“When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me/ Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be”
– Let it be by The Beatles

And, most of us never fully understand how some people suffer from non-visible afflictions, every day.

I talked to some folks in a pain clinic waiting room – all of whom have some internal issues not normally experienced by the general population. One thirty-something woman spoke of having to “divorce” herself from the person she was in her 20’s. She said that it’s taken ten years to realize that simple fact. She had a top laboratory job as a forensic scientist and that she, and her teacher husband, had an active outdoor sports lifestyle: skiing, running, canoeing, and trips to expensive resorts in Europe.

Then she developed kidney stones that just seem to materialize over night – leaving her incapacitated. Normal laser treatment to crush the stones isn’t effective and her body keeps producing them non-stop… meaning the pain is non-stop. 

She said that although her friends have been supportive, they can’t possibly understand why someone who looks so “normal” can’t do the things she used to do. In fact, going out socially is something that requires special planning, as well as, good luck.

“And after it rains, there’s a rainbow/ And all of the colors are black
It’s not that the colors aren’t there/ It’s just imagination they lack”                                                                                      
– My Little Town by Paul Simon

Her family and friends never see the consecutive “down” days – days whereby she finds herself confined to bed – immobile, waiting out yet more excruciating rounds of piercing pain. Most can’t go far beyond their pharmaceutical tether or their medical support team: risking certain daily deterioration of their physical condition. 

They’re so finely attuned to their powerful drugs, that even a slight formulation change can aggravate their overall condition – mentally and spiritually – not wanting to talk to anyone.

And, the strange thing is, that when they’re having a “good” day, they feel guilty. Why? Because, these days are so rare – so fantastic by comparison – they feel like imposters when with others.

“Give me hope/ Help me cope, with this heavy load
Trying to, touch and reach you with, heart and soul”                                                                                                               
– Give Me Love by George Harrison

Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” How can we be a bigger part of their “why?”

Fred Parry              The Music In Me         January 2015

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