Dem bones, Dem bones, Dry bones

Let’s talk about bones, achey, breaky bones. I cannot get through a day without several conversations with and about my bones. Many of my friends share this phenomenon; we fall into a specific category, women who know the perils of vacuuming shag carpet and, men who grew sideburns and ducktails. We sang along with the original Elvis Presley.

I feed the scrawny, angry wolf biting into my health. I forget about the other wolf that is a testament to a wondrous Intelligence of many sacred names. I call this wolf, Faith.

These days, we do not sing about the toe bone being connected to the ankle bone, the knee bone, and the thighbone. Now, we have total knowledge on the connections in our bones. We are a large group as reflected in the popularity of the television show, “Bones.”

My bones talk to me. I have made a pact with my bones which includes rules on diet and exercise, but I do not run unless I am being chased. My bones do not wake up at the same time, particularly, vertebrae L5 and L4. And the laziness seems to be spreading from bone to bone to bone. I never bound out of bed. Oddly, I have begun to adhere to rules that in my youth, I disdained. I always wear shoes. The only time the soles of my feet touch a bare floor…is in the shower.

Each morning, Lee and I check with each other to ask, “How are you feeling?” It is good to check to see if we are operating correctly. The answer could affect lives.

A conversation is not complete when I speak with friends until we take account of each other’s latest health issues. We share notes, doctors, and, of course, we compare drugs. If you eavesdropped, you would hear these questions and thoughts. It is a familiar litany of questions; I ask myself and my friends. Where does it hurt? What will make me feel better? Will I hurt like this the rest of my days? When is the next doctor’s appointment? I am so tired of doctors. What did I do to my back, in the first place? Why is my back so slammed together? Should I see another doctor? Will I never get better? Should I have another operation? Or should I just accept my fate and live with it?

It is chronic pain, perpetual motion. Chronic pain feels like two hungry wolves howling inside my body. The parable teaches that all of us have within us two hungry wolves. Which wolf lives depends on us. The wolf that lives is the one we feed.

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As I medicate myself, I count my pills like a hungry man counting his change. I exercise, or say I did. I would rather puke than return again, and again, to physical therapy. No matter, how dear and kind the therapists are, instead of visiting them, I would rather send a note.
Sometimes, when I am finally situated into a comfortable position, I can’t relax because I am waiting on something to hurt. Chronic health conditions are like electricity. Pain runs through nerves, sometimes, even in sleep. It never stops, like a wild horse; it can be corralled, but never tamed.

My body is a catalog, a catalog of my life, bone by bone, scar by scar. I fell out of a tree. A horse threw me over a barbed wire fence, which hurt my knees, but also basketball and softball took their toll on my bony knees. In high school, I broke my right foot sneaking out of choir practice to watch boys play basketball; I drove home using a clutch to change gears. I almost cut my little finger off in a tale I will not repeat. I must have hurt my back when I fell while I was pregnant, but there were all these rocks I bounced off of when I fell out of the canoe, many times on many trips. Those were good times, when I was young and invincible.

My friends and I have carried heavy things as we traveled through our lives. Like the Velvet Rabbit, we have fallen off cliffs and walked through valleys. Real life and living has caused us to be rusty in places. The painful reminders of our original sins wake and rumble in the corner of our minds, and when the wolves howl it is so easy to remember and catalog the pain. Life spares no one.

My hungry wolves are those I recently read about in a parable someone sent me. The story tells that the wolf that lives is the one I fed. Days come upon me when I give-in to the pain; I take my pills on schedule, sit around, and feel sorry for myself. I feed the scrawny, angry wolf biting into my health. I forget about the other wolf that is a testament to a wondrous Intelligence of many sacred names. I call this wolf, Faith.

Think how our body heals itself, naturally; without our bidding, sometimes without our knowledge. Our bodies are a human computer. We have control over only a minuscule of the body’s maintenance, but it is the most important, this minuscule part controls how our body performs and renews. This sacredness operates blindly, but the care and feeding of my body is my decision. Which wolf I become depends only on me. I call upon Faith.

I believe there is a parallel between faith and healing. Faith balances life. Faith is to believe in ourselves, our ability to meet a goal, come to the dead-line prepared. Faith rides with the sun and sleeps with the moon. Faith causes buses and trains to run on time. Does an atheist live without faith in something, if it is only in calendars and schedules? When all others have left the dock, Faith takes your hand.

I boil it down to this. In the 70s decade of the previous century, I met a lovely dowager who wore her silver hair in a French-twist, and lived in a mansion just a dog-leg turn off Providence Road. She was in her eighties or nineties with white hair and fine clothes. She wrote poetry; Charlotte Magazine published several of her poems. I cannot recall her name, or even the exact location of her house, but I have never forgotten the essence of one of her poems. In the poem, she was asking herself what she would like to leave to each of her children. She had a bounty of assets to pass around, but they seemed unimportant, treasures were never mentioned.

Her desire was to leave a memory of a life well-lived. A life that had that had been kind; her desire was to set an example of laughter; strength in hard times; wonder and joy at all times. The only choice we have is what will be remembered of us; we leave memories and reflections in our wake.

With this in mind, I invaded a “Fix the Pain” store that sells back equipment. I bought a lawn chair that is based on zero gravity, my astronaut chair. I carry it around the house, wherever I sit.

In an act of desperation, Lee bought an inversion therapy machine. It is one of those things that you strap your feet in one end and swing upside down on the other end. I swing like a bat, but there is a board underneath my body. I am decompressing my back, my life. I am fifty-percent better. As Winston Churchill told Great Britain in its darkest hour, “Never give up.”

Do not go out and try this without a doctor’s permission. I did check with my doctor. It is a magic seesaw. It sits beside my computer and when my back hurts, I swing into it and flip upside down. In this position, I can only see the tops of trees outside, sometimes a squirrel races by on the wires, I am ten swinging on a star. Faith swings beside me.

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