Status Quo - In The Army Now
You’re In the Army Now: In a Life of Chronic Pain
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Suddenly, you find you are a combatant. You’ve been inducted into this vast army of chronic pain. Your life is no longer your own, or so it feels. Your daily “uniform” has changed. Your schedule has been disrupted. You are called upon to change areas of your life you thought were unchangeable and the chances are, if you are a new inductee, you are full of confusion and resentment.
When I was a child, years after WW11 we used to march around with wooden sticks and sing, “You’re in the Army now, you’re not behind a plow; you’ll never get rich, you son of a bitch, you’re in the Army now.”I feel certain I never said that “B” word because I would heed my Mother’s warning to have my mouth washed out with soap, so if memory serves, we probably said hitch or witch. I knew my limits…or Mother’s. For each generation we have had our wars to fight and conflicts which have affected our country and our world. We’ve known tragedies and triumphs. We’ve seen fatalities and injuries and all of those who have been directly or indirectly affected by the various conflicts, police actions, territorial disputes or wars. Sometimes we have known the enemy and sometimes, not.
This time we’re in a more personal battle and there seems to be no end in sight. I see no truce in my future. I do, however, see a lot of health combat thus you and I both need to be prepared for what lies ahead of us in our personal existence.
1. Basic Training: In the real Army, Navy or Marines the stories one hears about basic training are frightening, even if they are full of half-truths. I suspect some of the stories my husband has shared with me are stuffed with an extra bit of testosterone and special effects. For most of us, when we are unprepared, it’s often gruesome to be faced with a grueling challenge. Most of us were just going about, living our lives when we were inducted into this army of suffering. How do you prepare for something of such cataclysmic proportions as this…this life we now live? All the push-ups in the world, even if I could do even one, could not have prepared me for what lay ahead. Funny isn’t it how that works, life sort of looks at us and says, “Ready or not, here I come.”
Basic training, for us, is all about getting ready, gaining knowledge and yes, arming ourselves with the weapons of battle we will need. The very word training implies movement and activity. Life is to be lived. It’s not simply a matter of lying down and taking pills. If you or I choose that particular assignment then we will fail ourselves, our families, our friends and yes, eventually, our world. We will get fat, grow terribly out of shape and give consent to our challenge or disease to take command of our lives. Battle begins in basic training.
Learn all you can about your weapons, your disease and your “officers” or doctors. Don’t turn your care over to just anyone. Find the best ones out there. Doctors, like you and I, come in many forms, grades and packages. Your weapons are your foods, supplements and any activities which will strengthen you for the battle ahead. To be armed with knowledge about your condition just makes sense. I don’t know why there are so many folks out there who just give up, short of knowing all they should and could know about themselves. Knowledge is a powerful weapon.
2. Courage Matters. Courage is required when you go into battle, otherwise you’re going to get trounced, smashed and defeated. If you don’t want to win, well, don’t bother; just stay home in bed, under the covers waiting for the grim reaper to call for you. But if you love your life and those around you, and have a smidgeon of desire to defeat this awful enemy, wrap your heart, mind and will around courage. Something happens when one picks up the weapon of courage. You, somehow, become taller, wiser, and have less fear. You’re not fearless because only a fool goes into battle without fear. It is said the most courageous are those who go into battle in spite of their fear, placing it in a secondary role in their lives as they are led by courage. For many that source of courage comes from a Power outside themselves. Remember: there are no atheists in foxholes. If you don’t know what a foxhole is, well, look it up.
Many consider Abraham Lincoln to have been our greatest President and he had to hold office during our tragic and devastating Civil War. He said, “I am satisfied that when the Almighty want me to do, or not do, any particular thing, He finds a way of letting me know it.” As we all know he paid the ultimate price for his convictions and courage. Do you think for a moment he didn’t know he would eventually pay with his life?
I’ve known many individuals, including myself, who whine about all they have had to give up due to chronic illness. It’s a valid whine, truly. It also understandable because we become very comfortable in the life we have built for ourselves. Nobody plans to become diseased, challenged by daily pain or disfigured. Nobody sets forth in life at their high school or college graduation with plans to be unable to work, unable to fulfill what they have been trained to do or unable to fulfill all of their dreams and plans for the future. Then in one stroke of the DNA, an accident or injury our plans lay crumbled beneath our aching feet. We always miss the obvious however and that is WE ARE STILL ALIVE. You may have to find the courage to put down one dream but if you let it go, there about a million other ones out there for the taking, if you have the courage to dream, expect and walk toward it. Dreams come in all sizes, colors, packages and degrees of difficulty; but they all take courage.
Let me share a lovely, anonymous poem with all of you:
THE HARD WAY
For every hill I’ve had to climb,
For every stone that bruised my feet,
For all the blood, the sweat and grime,
For blinding storms and burning heat,
My heart sings but a grateful song---
These were the things that made me strong!
3. Personal Integrity and Honor Count Above All Else. In the army of life or in the real Army, it’s always a temptation to lose one’s personal integrity. A little bit of cheating here, a pinch or two there and suddenly, you’ve blown the whole lot. It’s vital that you love yourself. If you don’t like yourself any longer, how can you love yourself or anyone else? It’s easier to slip into this crevice in real life because you don’t have an officer looking over your shoulder to be sure you’re doing things the right way. In the Army that is their way. In real life, the choices are many and the temptations much greater. We often use our disabilities and hardships as excuses for doing less, taking more and being less. No, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I don’t know your circumstances and you’re correct, I don’t. I do however know my own and after 27 years of living an altered life and intermingling with others who are also altered, there isn’t anything worse than another. We each feel what we feel. We each live with our limits our choices and what’s been dumped upon our heads. This is the army, there are no excuses. Sure, there’s whimpering, crying, fit throwing and larceny in our hearts; but all that will eventually have to end as we either slip down into oblivion or we grow stronger.
It’s impossible to fight a good battle without honor and valor. Those are often lost commodities in today’s world but they do still exist. We are still called upon to be the best that we can be…no excuses.
There was once a wonderful woman who had every excuse to give up on life but instead of giving up she fought to see, to hear and to explore. To quote her, “I feel that ultimately I have not been influenced by any particular lessons, but rather by forces working on my subconsciousness that have borne me on an unseen current. Joy in adventure, travel and love of service to my fellow men were stronger than physical handicaps. I discovered to my surprise in my Greek sayings, ‘There is no force so mighty in the world as perseverance.’ It never occurred to the writer of that rich sentence in ancient times that it would sow new seeds of significance until a day would come when the blind, the deaf and the crippled would rise up in the might of purpose, compel their obstacles aside, and press onward to creative accomplishment.” Helen Keller wrote those words of deep wisdom as she learned to utter words, still unable to see or hear the world she loved so completely. No excuses there but plenty of honor and valor. She would have been a General in the Army of Life.
Therefore my friends, I leave you with one simple order: Forward march!!
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