Chronicles in Ordinary Time 29: The other days…

Medicine BottleI don’t usually like to deal with my depression in public. Some mentors once told me that if the person you are talking to can’t do anything about the problem you’re having, then it’s somewhat pointless to tell them about it. Unless you are wanting to share your misery.
I’m not really wanting to share my misery, but other mentors have explained to me that shared pain can sometimes be helpful.

Of course, another part of the story is that the gentleman above was facing a hanging in the days ahead. True story. Late 1800s, photo by Edward Curtis. He was called Medicine Hat. His crime? His skin was the wrong color and he lived on land that American settlers wanted. The Westward Migration.

While in relative terms, my challenges are far less than those of Medicine Hat, nonetheless, I’m ‘calling in sick’ for a few hours; possibly the rest of my day. One of the challenges of self-employment is that I have no paid sick leave. I don’t necessarily lose my job, but I don’t get paid if I don’t produce. I’m supposed to be working on some house plans. They are weeks overdue. I’m working at an amazingly slow speed; apparently. I seem to be very busy, but don’t seem to be able to produce with any speed.
I’ve been burning my candle at both ends, and have started on the middle, and I’m not as resilient as I was in years past. If I ever really was. I think that perhaps I self-medicated, and pretended I was resilient.
Tonight I feel sick, sort of. One of the problems of idiopathic polyneuropathy is that I never really know what I’m ‘feeling’. I have a broken toe–the bone at the end separated at the joint– that I’m only am aware of the damage a few times a week, and only in the sense that I have a sensation in a toe that normally has no sensation. I ‘should’ have sciatica, but that nerve doesn’t function correctly either. After 30+ years of chronic pain, much of what I dealt with in the past was predictable. I still feel ‘shadows’ of being out of whack; but those things mostly don’t hurt.

What hurts now is ‘nerve-pain’ — pain that isn’t really associated with visible injury. Biopsies have determined that I have damaged nerves; no clue why. We have millions of nerve endings in our bodies. I’ve lost a few million nerve endings. I still have a couple million left. I’m learning to be thankful for what I have left–it’s more profitable than whining about what I’ve lost. I think I can guess what people with ‘phantom limb pain’ experience. My feet have little external sensation, but they ‘burn’, almost constantly. Particularly when they decide they are cold. Burning cold. Like a REALLY bad sunburn. Go figure.

Among other things, my gut changed 4 years ago, this month. I’ll spare you the messy details. Today it’s worse. My doc of 30 years retired about 2 years before the neuropathy started. I’m on my third doc since [not counting ‘specialists’]. A new doc has no history beyond what’s on paper. Since most of my symptoms are subjective, a new doc has nothing to compare with, and no particular reason to accept my assertion that my life was much different 4 years ago.

Four years plus a day or two ago, I begged my Creator to let me come Home. I was at my nephew’s wedding, and after a couple of hours filming with my pocket camera, my hands were shaking too much to shoot anymore, and I ached everywhere. I made a deal with the Creator, a couple of decades back, that I wouldn’t try to speed my progress Home. A few weeks from that wedding night, the neuropathy took over half of my body. Never make demands of the Creator–it’s extremely dangerous. That painful past, that I often complained about internally, was better than my ‘new normal’.

Most people are unaware of my physical challenges; I can fake ‘normal’ for a couple hours at a time. I prefer the ruse. I have some trusted friends that I share some of the challenges with; it lessens the burden. But the reality is that so far, no one has a clue as to how to address the slow decline. Since the people I’m normally around can’t help much, I try not to make a big deal about it.
Tonight I feel like whining. Maybe someone will understand that they aren’t alone.

Maybe the reason for the pain is so we would pray for strength
And maybe the reason for the strength is so that we would not lose hope
And maybe the reason for all hope is so that we could face the world
And the reason for the world is to make us long for Home
Well I know you’re past the point of broken, surrounded by your fear
I know your feet are tired and weary from the road that you walk down here
But just keep your eyes on Heaven and know that you are not alone
Remember the reason for the world
No ear has heard, No eye has seen, not even in your wildest dreams
A beauty that awaits beyond this world. When you look into the eyes of Grace
and hear the voice of mercy say, ‘Child, welcome to the reason for the world’
Matthew West

The hurt that broke your heart, and left you trembling in the dark, feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry will seed the ground where joy will grow
And nothing is wasted; Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

It’s from the deepest wounds that beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end that every broken piece
is gathered in the heart of Jesus and what’s lost will be found again
And nothing is wasted; Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

From the ruins, from the ashes, beauty will rise
From the wreckage, from the darkness, Glory will shine.
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted
Jason Gray

piggy back draft 5
A detail from an illustration for a book I never had the chance to finish.That’s Hiroshima in the background; the little girl is going to die in a few minutes from radiation poisoning. True story. Thousands of parent-less, home-less children wandered the ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombs were dropped, looking for family or friends. Most of them died horribly alone and in pain, hours and days after the destruction. A teacher returned home from an out of town trip, and went to search for her sibling’s children. All of the children she found wandering died in her arms. She survived, and published her diary.

We did that. The good guys, the God-fearing, freedom-loving, rights-preserving US of A. Supposedly we killed hundreds of thousands to prevent the killing of thousands that would result from an invasion of the Home Island of Japan. My gut feeling is that the issue was really the nationality of those thousands who were ‘spared.’
The rest of the world remembers Hiroshima and Nagasaki and views us as either hypocrites or really stupid. We blame it on the past, and other people. But the true horror is that there are still idiots in the world who consider nuclear weapons as viable alternatives. Some of them live very close to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The reality is that while we are no better than the rest of the world, we also are not that much worse.

Home would be good.

Time for another hero movie.


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