“If you want something done, ask a busy woman.” ~ Anonymous
That’s an old saying I’ve found to be true over and over again. I’ve met too many people who spend more time making excuses for why they can’t do something than it actually takes to complete it. And so many people with a dozen balls in the air already – what difference does one more make? I was never one to back down from a challenge. In fact, I thought I did my best work when the pressure was on. Then I faced a challenge I couldn’t overcome – but had no idea how to admit defeat.
I worked in constant pain for two years. I worked full time, usually more than forty hours a week, at a job where decisions I made could mean the difference between life and death for my patients. I tried not to take the narcotic pain medications my doctors had prescribed, or the muscle relaxers – both made me groggy, and the very thought of being a nurse working under the influence of medications like those was against all I’d been taught. But the pain itself was just as disabling as the drugs. It was bad enough to have me running to the restroom to vomit many times, and twice I passed out from the pain. But I was under the care of doctors, I was at some sort of treatment or therapy nearly every day. How could I not work? I was the primary breadwinner, I carried the all-important health insurance.
But after my fourth surgery, when the pain was still no better, I didn’t return to work. I felt guilty, felt like a failure, but I kept trying to get better. Eventually a nurse practitioner sat me down and explained that I would never get better – that my disease was progressive and the best I could hope for was to slow it down a bit. I was forty-six.
Since then my challenges have changed. Taking a shower is challenging. Drying my hair is impossible. Travelling an hour is a challenge. Travelling eight hours is impossible. Running a couple of errands is a challenge. Doing a full grocery trip (even with a handicapped placard and a teen to do the heavy lifting) is impossible. Spending thirty minutes at the computer is a challenge. Spending an hour there will put me in bed the rest of the day.
It’s been difficult, but I’ve adapted to my new challenges. In the future I’m sure I’ll have to adapt to more. Challenges are good, and the feeling of meeting a challenge is heady. But not every challenge can or should be met. We each have our own race to run, and it’s not a competition with anyone else. Just ourselves.
I’m linking up to Mama Kat’s Writers’ Workshop, a great place to find a list of writing prompts every week – one of which is sure to speak to you!