Painful Lessons…


When “Small & Simple Things” Lead to Huge Disruptions and then to “Great Things”

I learned from Alma 37:6-7 that “small and simple things” often lead to “great things”, and so it was eight weeks ago when I was sitting on my yoga mat after finishing my morning routine of nourishing myself, body, mind and spirit, that I felt a small tweak in my back. I decided to get back in bed and rest for a few minutes.

After resting, when I stood up, I felt the most excruciating pain that I have EVER experienced and I could not find any standing, sitting or laying position, or way to escape the intense pain.  I started screaming for my husband to call 911, and the next thing I remember was some really nice, gentle firemen lifting me off the ground, getting me down my front stairs and into an ambulance. 

Pain Is Never Convenient

Because of Covid, there were no hospital beds available within 20 miles. So, after about 8 hours in the emergency room, several rounds of pain injections, prescriptions for 3 days of narcotics, a walker and an appointment with a spine doctor in 10 days, we were released to go home. 

I am glad that I didn’t know it then, but I was experiencing a life disruption or “life quake” of great proportions. It just so happened that I was reading a book called, “Life is in the Transitions”. This book describes how to cope with life changes that are unexpected and unpleasant. It also mentions that these transitions occur regularly and that the average adult spends more than 50% of their life in them.  

Instantly, I went from a fully functioning adult to someone who needed help with every part of my life, from feeding to dressing to bathing to sitting, standing and walking. I was in constant pain. I was in trouble and needed help – and was unable to help myself. 

Life Quake Timing Is Always Challenging

My husband was only three weeks away from retiring and needed to finish some final projects, so his ability to provide help all day was limited. Our daughter, who lives in Oklahoma, recognized before we did that we needed help.  She left her family for 2 weeks and flew out to take care of me. I would have suffered a lot more if she hadn’t been there to start making sense of what I needed and put processes in place that helped us cope with our “new circumstances”. 

As a life coach, I get to talk with people who are coping with “life quakes” on an everyday basis. I knew that I had skills that would help me, but between the intense pain and the effects of the medication, I couldn’t apply anything to myself. I needed help, and that’s the marvelous thing. I got exactly the kind of help I needed.

Four Actions That Are Getting Me Through This Life Quake

1.  I Was Blessed To Notice Small Improvements

I requested a blessing. In my church, when we are sick or hurt, we can ask to be anointed with oil and given a healing blessing from the Elders, who are also our neighbors. I can’t remember much about what was said during the blessing, but I do remember that I was told that I would improve each day.

As I thought about it later, I decided to write down those small improvements my body was making, and I told everyone about them. Everyone, including my family, friends, and all the people I met at the doctor’s office and physical therapy.  They all joined in the search for my physical improvements.  I regularly asked myself what was something that I could do today that I was unable to do last week?  I wrote the improvements on my whiteboard and recited them to myself to keep my spirits up.

2.  Accepting Help

As my friends and neighbors started noticing I was missing, several called or dropped by and they all offered help.  I took them all up on it and asked everyone to walk with me to my mailbox (two houses away), and as I improved I asked them to walk me to the end of the block. I enjoyed all the walks and all the people who stayed to visit for a while. I got texts, flowers, magazines,balloons, visits and long talks on the phone. I looked forward to seeing new faces and my husband appreciated anyone who would distract me. 

3.  Looking For The Gifts

From coach training I learned there are compensatory gifts in every situation, but you have to look for them to find them.  These gifts don’t just show up on your doorstep. Eight weeks out I have discovered a handful of gifts.  One is a gift that I have been praying for for decades. I didn’t do anything special, no extra prayers, no working at it. It was totally a gift. All I had to do was notice it.

I have had two people ask me if I knew that I was going to receive this particular gift, would I go through this painful time all over again? That’s a hard question to answer, but eventually I said that yes, I would go through it all again if I knew that is what it took to get this gift. 

4.  Grateful And Blessed

Every day, I marvel at how intricate my body is and I stop to appreciate all the parts of my body that work just fine. I appreciate everything that I can see and I also appreciate everything that happens under the skin that I can’t see. I have never been so aware of my body or more appreciative of what it can do.

ALL my best!