Growing Pains

growing pains tv.jpg

(Not the TV show. )

Update: Wally and I are still together. A couple of days ago, my right foot felt better. I wore two matching shoes. I guess I cheated on Wally. Don’t tell him. My foot hurt a little, but it was nice to feel like I had a cohesive outfit on. It’s getting better. I’m doing deeper stretches and it seems to help.

I’ve realized something. Our house, the one that my dad and stepmom used to own, probably won’t be a showplace anymore. Jonathon and I both work full-time. We have 2 kids who live with us, and 3 pets, also living with us full-time. Between the extensive grounds and 3,000 square feet of house, it’s a lot. Can I enjoy what is and work on things as I’m able, or will I succumb to the pressure of perfectionism? Stay tuned.

Jonathon and I spent some time praying about it, feeling a bit overwhelmed. As we prayed, I felt like the Lord impressed two words on me: growing pains. Aha! Well, that makes sense. We’ve never had such a large, beautiful home and yard before. We don’t know how to manage it all. This means we’re going to have to grow into it, like kids growing into new clothes. We have to roll up our pants and sleeves until our limbs lengthen. We’re excited to wear them, but might need to wait a few months before they fit correctly.

Then we went to church. My brother preached on – you guessed it – growing pains. Seemed a confirmation of sorts. The context was parenting, but the idea is the same. We need to help our kids grow, through gracious love and correction, into the people God created them to be. Shouldn’t that extend to ourselves as well? We’re called the children of God, after all. I’m learning. For sure and for certain, it takes me *forever*, but I’m learning. I’m never going to be perfect. Never. Only one person who ever was, and we crucified Him. It was for the best reason, to bring us into relationship with the Father, but still. Something to think about.

So today, right now, I leave regrets behind. I let fall away all the old things. The dead things, including the failed attempts at relationships, activities, jobs, etc. I want to be free. I want to be able to love and serve in the present, not weighted down with baggage and wishes.

Both wearing Wally and living in this new residence have caused me to rethink my ways, to slow down and consider. I’m taking a breath. In Christ, I can extend grace and patience as I get better and as we figure out the best ways to dwell anew. 

 

grace made perfect.jpg

 

(source)

 

Monday Candor & Hoofing It, Part 3

Confession

(source)

Today, I got out and ran. The moon set behind the house, a blurry orange disk in the dawn sky. A light drizzle threatened, but never really materialized. The issues with my right foot have all but dissipated. The two shots helped. Not tequila shots, mind you, but cortisone.

Confession is good for the soul, right? Now’s as good a time as any to admit I put on 10 lbs. over the last year. Yay! I kind of lost track of who I was and what I wanted while going through transition after transition, some of it mighty painful. But I’m an athlete. I know probably that sounds kind of goofy. I don’t mean it in the sense of competing at an elite level. I have a day job, after all, and multiple obligations. I mean it in the sense that I need to get physical and sweaty most days. So…not super feminine. But I don’t really care about that anymore. I think I need to invent my own standard.

Fast forward to today. I’ve lost about 5 of those pounds. Woot! I’d like to lose 5 more. We’ll reevaluate after that. I went back to kettlebells last week. Oy! I’d done some at home, because you don’t want to walk back into class cold turkey. That’s just asking for pain and suffering. Your hands will already turn to hamburger. Why add to the misery?

While running this morning, I considered the last year. I know we’re almost halfway through 2018, but it’s taken awhile to let my failures go. Sometimes we wind up with a filleted heart. It takes time to heal. To force the healing or lose patience with ourselves is to miss the learning. We continue to take it to the Father, pray, read the Word and surrender, Dorothy. We need to feel the feelings instead of stuffing them – or eating them – which was my M.O. until recently.

All of this to say I’m on the mend. Dr. B. gave me yet another shot in my foot. I sat in the examination room, contemplating the fish-spangled ceiling as the needle plunged into my foot yet again.

“All done,” Dr. B. announced.

“Wait. You’re done? That didn’t hurt as much,” I said. I felt proud of myself. I am getting tougher, I thought, smiling. Alright!

“Well,” he said, “as the inflammation goes down, the shots hurt less. So you’re nearly better.” He smiled.

Amen to that.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

 

 

Hoofing It

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I’ve had pain in my right foot for a few weeks now. I’ve tried icing it and soaking it. I’ve resorted to flat shoes. I’ve stretched it and done exercises. Nothing has worked except ibuprofen at regular intervals and – gasp! – not running. The pain is concentrated on the ball and instep of the foot. Finally, I succumbed to a podiatrist recommended by my coworker, Lisa.

“You won’t regret it. Dr. Baumgartner is good,” she said, beaming.

Hmm. I don’t like going to the doctor, generally. They never seem to know what to do when I’ve had running injuries. Maybe this time will be different.

I pulled up the bossy GPS lady on my phone after I typed in the address. I don’t know Olympia very well. I ended up on the highway, which worked. I pulled into the tiny lot of a medical complex tucked into a residential neighborhood. The sun brought out the blossoming trees and a fresh breeze made me feel optimistic. I got out of the car. A lady greeted me.

“Do you know where Big Rock Medical is?” she asked me as she smoked a cigarette, limping towards me. I thought maybe we were headed to the same place.

“I don’t”, I adm

itted. “I was hoping you knew where the Foot and Ankle Clinic was?”

She pointed to a building behind us.

“I think it’s there. I took my boyfriend there once.”

The building, sans signage, opened into a lobby. Children’s drawings covered the walls and underside of the desk. All the cards on the empty reception desk listed mental health professional as their title. Nope. Not the place. I wonder what her boyfriend was *really* doing here?

I pulled up Ms. GPS again and realized I hadn’t gone far enough down the street. Back out, and left, and then I reached my destination. I asked for Dr. Berger at the counter.

“Um…we don’t have a Dr. Berger. This is a podiatry clinic. Do you have an appointment?”

Yes, I do, I thought, a little miffed. Then I realized I got his name wrong.

“Do you mean Dr. Baumgartner?” the receptionist was quick, I’ll give her that.

“Yes, ” I said, relieved. Oy.

The tech took me back a few minutes later. She asked about the pain – when, where, how, etc. Then she took X-rays of each foot, bottoms and sides. I sat in an enormous leather examination chair and she removed my socks.

Ahh, my neglected feet! They haven’t seen sunshine in about 6 months. I cringed a little.

“Um, my feet are gross. Sorry,” I mumbled.

She looked at them.

“No, they’re not,” she said with a smile. Ah, kindness. I like it here already.

Dr. B. came in next. A sandy-haired mustachioed man with crinkly blue eyes and a medium build, he shook my hand with a smile. He started moving my feet back and forth and telling a new slender, shiny-haired tech his findings. She jotted things on my electronic chart as he pointed out callouses and the beginnings of baby bunions. Baby bunions! Nooo!

Dr. B. moved to the X-rays.

“See your big toe? There’s a little spur growing out of it. It makes your big toe rub against your index toe. Now, your second toe is starting to rise up. That’s why you have inflammation there. Good thing you came in. The pain would have spread down the rest of your toes otherwise.” He also pointed out a corresponding bunion bud on the other big toe. Great.

“I can shave off your callouses. You have some on the bottom of your feet as well as the outside of the big toe. You have some chafing going on there.”

I always thought callouses were running’s badges of honor, along with hammer toes and black toenails. Maybe I was wrong.

“But first, I need to give you a shot in the top of your foot. It’s a cousin to cortisone and will reduce the inflammation. You’ll hurt after the numbing agent wears off, but it’ll be good, I promise.”

Um. Do I have a choice? I don’t think I signed up for this…

“Look up at the balloons,” he directed. Conveniently located in the ceiling lights, an inlay of a couple of colorful hot air balloons designed to distract patients from imminent pain.

He sprayed something cold on the top and bottom of my right foot. Then he stuck the needle in. I felt it go down, down. I took deep breaths and thought about soaring high in the sky in a beautiful balloon. Time stood still. More than 30 seconds went by. The needle plunged deeper.

“Are you okay?” Dr. B. asked.

“I’m good,” I squeaked. Breathe, breathe, I told myself. Don’t pass out.

“Three…two…one…okay, we’re done.” Dr. B. pulled out the needle and applied a Band-Aid.

“Here are some orthotics to put in your shoes.” He handed me two half-size inserts. “We can talk about custom ones for your running shoes the next time. You’ll need to move them to the shoes you’re using. They usually run around $650 before insurance.”

Boing! Somehow, I was not excited about this prospect. Not excited about orthotics forever, either.

But to run without pain, does price matter? I would love it. I go back next week for a follow up. I’m wearing the plastic orthotics, working up by an extra hour each day. Today, the spot where I got the shot hurts, but nothing else. It’s working already.  Of course, I continue to pray for healing, but He works through many means. I’m  grateful for knowledgeable doctors.

 

 

When You Try

I tried a new workout yesterday. I’m feeling it today. My triceps hurt. My calves are super tight. My right shoulder reminds me it’s still there. And oh, my back! I feel much closer to 75 years old today than I did before.

The instructor in the video, a tall, shapely woman in her late 20s, encouraged me to push.

“Change comes when you get uncomfortable,” she said right at me, looking into the camera lens.

I get it, lady. I really do.

I think God designed us this way. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. In my mind, the only way to get different results is to do it correctly for the first time, like running for 30 minutes without stopping, or playing that run note for note in what we like to call the right way.

flute music

There’s a big difference between practicing something to try to improve, and doing the same thing over and over again to check a box or fulfill a requirement. Some things demand more time and thought in order to improve. Some tasks just need to get done, like taking out the trash or paying a bill. I’m talking about learning a new skill. Learning something new requires effort and time. It takes perseverance, which like a muscle it needs to be built up. It means we focus every time we attempt. We learn as we go and we probably learn more when we mess up. It’s humbling and time consuming. But oh so worth it.

I had to remind myself yesterday, as I tried to flip a down dog position, that it’s okay to get uncomfortable. It’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s all right to fall down and fail as we try new things.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

You know what? That workout I did yesterday helped my right hip. I hurt it in 2012 and have tried myriad stretches to ease it back into place. It feels pretty good right now. In fact, I ran almost pain-free today. That, friends, is worth getting uncomfortable for. I’m going to do that workout again tomorrow. It can only get better from here.

 

Shoulder It

Friday, I hurt my shoulder. It came on slowly. First, I felt a stiffening. Then a dull, throbbing pain. Then bending my arm hurt. Getting sweaters on and off became challenging. I could barely pull my clothes on. In fact, I did, but with great yelps of pain and tears. Note: you shouldn’t cry while pulling on your pants unless they’re truly ugly. Then, cry away.

I went in to the doctor on Saturday afternoon. He had me raise my left arm as high as I could. I made it halfway up. He tried to push it up.

“Ow!” I exclaimed.

He stopped. He looked concerned. Well, as concerned as he could look while wearing a mask. He had a cold.

“You could have arthritis or bursitis, or an impingement,” he said, eyes full of sympathy. He sent in a prescription for stronger pain medication than ibuprofen.

He sent me to get an X-ray. I wandered the hospital to find only the ER open. I thought, Oh boy. This could take awhile.

“It should be 5-30 minutes,” the attendant told me.

OK.

“Sharon? Sharon?” A female voice called out into the void of the waiting room.

I perked up my ears. I often get called Sharon.

“Sharon Ee-sham?”

I hopped up and followed the voice.

“That’s me, but I’m not Sharon. I’m Susan.”

The X-ray tech looked relieved to find me and chagrined at butchering my name.

“Sorry about that. Come on back.”

We wandered the labyrinth of hallways. Not a lot of foot traffic on Saturdays.

I took off all my metal items and stood in front of the target.

The tech lined me up.

“Turn. Back up one step. Turn a little more.” I felt like this was a professional photo session. “Tilt your chin up. Smile. Chin down. Stop punching your sister. Now!”

Anyway, I noticed something.

“Um, it’s my left shoulder I’m here for, not my right.”

“Oh man.”

Now she felt really dumb. She adjusted me into the mirror image of what I was supposed to be on the other side.

“Hold your breath. Okay. Let it out.”

I went home in pain and discouraged. I called the chiropractor’s office. They’re all out of the office until Wednesday. I left a message at another place. He can’t see me until next week.

But God.

Pretty much everyone in my immediate family has laid hands on me and prayed for me. I got prayer at church. I’ve prayed for myself. I’ve cried out to God, because I needed to go to work yesterday and wondered how in the world I would sit at my computer and type.  He has started the healing process, and I’m getting better each day. Jesus proves Himself faithful yet again.

That old song rings true.

I thought about how much we need our whole body to work together. I thought about my friends who live with constant, chronic pain, and had more compassion than before. I had no idea how much I relied on my left shoulder until I hurt it. Likewise, we need each other. I don’t have all the answers. But you might be able to shed light on my situation, give me a new perspective.

But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.  How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.  The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” – 1 Corinthians 12:18-21

 

Everything Must Go

everythingmustgo

I’ve battled with shoulder and hip injuries for years now. If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know this. Truly, I haven’t felt consistently 100 % since the 2012 marathon attempt. I don’t know about you guys, but I carry things around with me. I’m not talking about Kleenex and gum. I mean emotional baggage. I realized this morning that I don’t compartmentalize well. I forgive people, yet stuff stays with me. Like invisible baggage. Think of the residual black scummy gunk that clings to you like the leftover adhesive from an old sticker.

What I’m trying to say, and not very eloquently, is that I let some old junk go this morning. You can spin your wheels forever asking why circumstances turned the way they did, or you can move on. As I prayed about this stuff for the umpteenth time, I knew what I needed to do the Lord showed me. I can’t fix things. I’m not God and I never will be. Best for everyone, that.

My shoulder immediately stopped hurting. My hip, too. Guess where that stuff got stored? Right on this body. It’s like I couldn’t let go of the pain. Every time I dwelled on the past and tried to solve it, I created a comfy little nest for the aches to stay on my body, like much-loved parasites.  I’d wrestled with God about why I still hurt after chiropractor visits and massages. Nothing helped, at least not in a lasting fashion. Seems I needed to do my part.

I ran outside in the damp today, the air perfumed with thousands of flowers. A little mizzle fell on the sleeping town. I breathed it all in, grateful. Hey, what’s a little mizzle when you’re finally free? Will I come smack up against this issue again? Probably. The enemy knows my weaknesses. Also, I need to do a little stretching to get loose again. It might even try to revisit me again later today. But now I know what I’m up against. I’ll be ready.

And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony…Revelation 12:11

Agnes

The Public Works shop has a cat. I call her Agnes.

She’s a good cat, from what I can see. One of the guys (or maybe more) feeds her and waters her. She has a litter box. She lives in the insulation in an upper storage area over the extra street signs (who knew we had ’em?) and stop signs.

When I first saw her while getting a tour of the shop, the head mechanic told me, “She doesn’t like anybody.”

Curious, I called to her. She came right out, chirping a little. She let me pet her soft head. She purred and drooled. She pushed her round head into my hand. She doesn’t come down to floor level, at least not that I’ve seen. She hangs out on the heights. She traipses a support bar and spies when she hears people down on the garage floor. She’s like a furry yet wingless barn owl, stealth killer of invading rodents.

Agnes is just one of many surprises I’ve encountered down at the shop. I doubt she’ll ever let me pet her fully, or come down to my level. I call to her and try to lure her closer, but no dice. She’s got a feral edge to her that shines out of her orange eyes. She doesn’t trust us humans to treat her right due to bad past experiences.

She reminds me of some people I’ve met. People tell me, “I believe in God. But church is full of hypocrites.” Or “I’m a spiritual person. God and I are A-Okay.” Truly, often these statements mask a deep fear of rejection and pain. We got hurt before, and it stung. In fact, it stunk! Now we believe we can hold God and His people at arm’s length and He’s fine with it. Right? He’s not. He longs to hold you close and comfort you, and whisper His myriad good thoughts about you into your spirit.

I’d love to hold Agnes and pet her, feel her warm small body tucked into my arms. I would never hurt her.  I want to tell her, people do dumb things sometimes. We’re not all jerks. Keep giving out love and you will get it. People right here in this shop take care of you. Won’t you trust them?

Agnes feels safe up high, out of reach, though. She’d have to let down her guard to get the attention she craves. I see her head turn. Her eyes lock onto mine. She wants to come down. She won’t let herself take the risk of getting hurt again.

Will you?

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. –  Psalm 34:18