30 (blogs) for (turning) 30: Day 6: Aches & Pains

Posted: April 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

I suppose these creaks and such aren’t necessarily new. It’s probable that my body, like all bodies before it and all that will come after it, has been deteriorating slowly but surely up until this point. But it hasn’t been until the last few months that I’ve really started to pay that close of attention to any of it.

I woke up a few weeks ago and felt like both of my knees were locking up–they were. A few quick bends and subtle motions and I was back to normal movement, but I notice there’s a slight limp to my walking throughout the day. These, I suppose, are some of the many physical side effects of getting older.

Not all of them are new. I’ve had the proverbial “hitch in my giddy-up” since I was 16. I tore the ACL in my left knee on a skiing trip with my church youth group. I remember the moment vividly. I was with a group of friends, all three a few years younger than I, but we were all still high school students who thought we knew what they were doing. My friends–Andrew, Whitney and Sara–were all smart enough to stick to the low level slopes, but I was feeling like I was a quick learn, and I disappeared on my own towards what I thought was a level-2 kind of slope.

I was wrong.

I was halfway down before I realized that I was going too fast and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to stop by the time I got to the bottom. So I did what I thought was the sensible thing: I hit the ground. During the orientation, we were told that our skis were set up to break off our boots in the event of a fall, so I figured that I would hit the ground, admit defeat and carry my skis back up to the top of the hill before sheepishly rejoining my friends. The only problem was that one of the bindings that was supposed to snap off decided not to, leaving me with one ski on my left foot as I was trying to take a dive to that side. My guess is that the ski got caught in the snow, which hyper-extended my limb enough to tear the ACL. I just remember a shooting pain (it was cold, after all) and then nothing, just me lying in the snow face first.

After a while, some nice people stopped to check on me and when I told them I wasn’t sure I could get up, one of them rushed up to get the snow patrol, who promptly whisked me up to the medical unit at the top of the hill. They told me I had bruised a shin, a diagnosis that was both incorrect and unmerited, considering they never bothered to roll my pant leg up past my knee to check anywhere else. The bus ride home was less than fantastic, as I was subjugated to the front seat, my leg elevated for the entire trip home. My friends were less than enthused about my solo act; as a matter of fact, after finding out that I was okay, I seem to remember Whitney being quite angry with me the rest of the trip.

I tell this story now, some 14 years later (yikes!), to illustrate that I’m familiar with pain. I grew up with chronic ear infections, that turned into chronic sinus infections, allergies, nasal congestion, you name it. The ironic thing about it is that even though I feel like physical pain has been a part of my life for much of its length so far, I’ve never taken it very well. I passed out when the nurse tried to put my IV in before my knee surgery. My tolerance is low. Still, I know the deterioration isn’t going to stop. If anything, it’s going to get worse. Yet all I can think of it at this point is that it’s just a nagging presence in my life that I wish I could make go away.

Like getting older, however, I must face it. Sure, I can take care of myself and try to limit the aches and pain as much as I can, but the simple fact is that we are finite beings, and that eventually our bodies, no matter how well we take care of ourselves, will give out and we’ll cease to exist. That’s it, point blank, no beating around the bush.

So I suppose the response here is two-fold. For one, I cannot continue to ignore my well-being. It’s important to treat my body a little more temple-like than I do sometimes. Even if it is a finite thing, the best thing for me to do with what I’ve been given is to take as good a care of it as I can. Second, and most importantly, especially in light of it being the night before Easter, I realize how vital it is to focus on my position in eternity after this body of mine finally does give out. I have no doubt of what will happen to my soul when I shuffle off this mortal coil, but I believe I can do more work that has eternal value than I am. To use what I’ve been given a little better while I have time to use it. That’s the challenge, though, to weigh these two somewhat conflicting ideas and make them work together.

A challenge, I think, we would all do well to take on.

 

God bless,

Robert

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