what’s that i’m looking for, oh right it’s Dignity

I’m prone on the table and a technician fiddles with me, fiddles with the machine, talks me through the procedure which is a simple and painless one. The vast number of medical practitioners I’ve worked with in my life have been so very kind. He prods my hip and touches my body here and there in a direct, firm yet kind manner, apologizing for any discomfort I feel. Practitioners are often so gentle with their hands I almost want to cry. How they can handle hundreds if not thousands of bodies but be so circumspect as if you were their only patient today, or Ever. It is a really beautiful thing.

Tomorrow I find out more about further interventions for my condition. I am expecting some not-so-awesome news. Someone dear to me the other day said, Well at least you don’t have to go through such-and-such. I’ve found “at least” comments very unsupportive and very unhelpful (I heard them from friends and family after miscarriage, after being beaten, et cetera) – especially from those who haven’t gone through these difficulties, these illnesses.

And then there are those who keep saying, Hope you get better. It’s a wonderful wish, but I notice it is also delivered, often, by people who have forgotten what I told them last time they asked. I have a chronic condition from birth so… getting better? It may never happen. It seems like many people keep someone chronically ill at a mental and emotional distance; they aren’t willing to engage with the illness, nor take the time to remember where their friend or family member might be coming from. (It only takes a moment, when you see them take a breath and reflect – promise! It’s good for you!) Anyway, I very likely will not get better. It’s like my friend S. who just lost the use of her legs. Those fuckers are gone, there are no more legs, and that is a hell of a thing to get used to no matter your age or what you’ve been through. She is not to be pitied or Othered but to be fully engaged with and to be respected – because she is a living, breathing human being going through The Shit.

Despite this and half a dozen other unplanned events (my dog went to the doggie ER today and we got to get a new credit card to cover that) I am surprisingly well. Gratitude practice, gratitude practice – helping others. Volunteer work. Sorting and rinsing beans and washing dishes and picking up fresh produce for the kids and dropping donations off at the Salvation Army.

No matter what and if we can’t afford food I still get flowers for my shrine every Monday. This practice has become very grounding. I spent much of my life being wrapped up in my own problems and I couldn’t be there for other people, but today I know most time I can be there for others. It just takes mindfulness and patience and persistence. I can’t do much but I can do a little.

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