I am one of the unfortunate sufferers of arthritis and osteoporosis. The effects of both these conditions have pretty much been a part of my life in one way or other since my late teens, early 20’s. At first, my parents thought it was traditional “growing pains”, so we pretty much ignored it as such and went on. But as I left my teens and entered my 20’s I started having some really odd pains…most mornings it was hard to get out of bed.
I found I couldn’t do the common things of a 20 year old…it was an effort to pick up my baby, my hands would “give out”, or my upper arms some mornings had virtually no strength in them, seemingly overnight. My feet had what I called heel spurs, but looking back I can see it was where the osteoporosis had set in. Not the normal physical life of a 20 year old. I plodded through it and played more with my daughter on the more mobile days, and cut back activity on others when we sat and read a lot or watched the tube, due to my aching joints and bones. But once I entered the 30’s, the pain had become debilitating more days than not, so off I trotted to the doctor, and thus the diagnosis all those years ago.
Several different medicines have been tried, but not being much for synthetic answers, I pretty much have just “adjusted” to the pain and difficulty in my body as the years have rolled on. Now at the age of “over 50”, there is pain every day, all day, in more than one spot of my body and that is my norm. Frankly most of the time I push through it and don’t even really notice it until it gets outside the pain level I have grown accustomed to all these years.
This week, I decided to change my daily routine. I had begun working at home the last couple of months pretty much exclusively and although I am a very organized person, I kept finding myself kind of drifting from one activity to another during the day and not getting as much accomplished as I desired and knew I could complete. I also seemed to be running out of time to just be myself and do some personal things I love such as read the Kindle on the back deck. So I sat down with pencil and paper, jotted down a tentative scheduling of my time and necessary daily activities, and placed those in general slots of time during the day. I wanted to create a new “normal” schedule for myself since the “normal” I have had for many years was no longer existent when I came back home to work, rather than going to an office every day.
All week, I have been on schedule and now that it is Friday it is actually starting to kind of feel “normal”. I marvel over the things I am accomplishing. I am marveling more over being able to stop at a certain time of the day, just like in an office setting, and fix my dinner, watch TV, read, rest or whatever I want to do for a slot of hours in my evening, rather than working till bedtime because I took 5 minutes here and 15 there during the day and “got behind” on things I really needed to complete for the day trying to grab moments of personal time of reflection and rest. I am more focused, I am more energized, and even my body is responding by getting more physical rest in longer segments, which could do nothing but aid in my health issues, right?
What I have found most interesting is this…
I have spent years working in my business. Many hours were willingly put in and very much enjoyed because the business was growing and so was I. I was meeting new people, being recognized in my community and among my peers, becoming a spokesperson for my industry. My new “normal” was getting up, working till bed with a few moments sprinkled through the day here and there of personal or family time, and doing it all over the next day. Prior to this working career, I had been a stay-at-home mom that worked at home, was in my yard and gardens for about 30 hours a week ( my passion), worked in my church, cooked every day, made bread, and did all those things that I adored doing for my family. A sad divorce forced me into the work world, and I adapted to it quickly and loved it, too…but the things that were once “normal” for me became the “abnormal”, and stayed that way for many years.
When I got up this morning at 6, I started thinking about my life now, and what my “normal” is now…and more what my “normal” today should be. As I took my morning walk, I thought about how my joint pain over the years had grown to a point that what was once thought of as terribly paralyzing “growing pains”, were tiny compared to the pain I now feel in my body as the norm each day. It truly does paralyze me in many ways and make me incapable of living a “normal” life for my age. I had let pain and difficulty physically become my “normal”. Nowadays, some pretty severe pain has to come along to slap me and say “hey you, you have some real physical issues here that need to be addressed. This isn’t just something you have to go through…a “growing pain”…it is out of the NORMAL…do something about it”.
How many of us, I wonder, have let sad situations, people who are jerks that consistently disrespect us by their words or behavior, or personal hardship and fear become our “normal” because it was looked upon as a “growing pain”…just something you have to go through, everyone does… it is “normal”…
Maybe it’s time for each of us to take a good long look at the life we lead, who we allow into it, what activities and priorities are part of the DNA of our today. Have we allowed people, emotions, beliefs or any number of “abnormal” things become our “normal” through disregard of the pain they may be causing us, and have caused us over the years? Is it time for us to change our perception? Or, even more… is it time to take a look at our pain head on, decide what has taken the value of our life and turned it into a devaluing thing…and then make a shift back to our kind of “normal”?
It might be that going back to our “normal” is the real growing pain we need to experience today.