Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Learning Curve

The phone message from my partner was quite unremarkable. “Hey. Give me a call when you have a chance, OK? Thanks. Bye.” When I did call her back, about 35 minutes after that message, I got a much different story. She’d had a trip and fall at work and had broken her arm and now was sitting with one of our friends at a doc-in-the-box clinic. “What?!?!?!” Needless to say, the adrenaline kicked in and nothing else mattered at that point. I was off to be with her, and take in the instructions from doctors and so forth. What hadn’t struck me in all the excitement is that this would be another path of learning to see limitation as a teacher. And it is giving me some lessons, too, in paying attention and being present. One normally doesn’t spend a lot of time contemplating the functions of various bones in the body as a general rule. But when one of them is broken, there is extreme pain and never-ending awareness. For my partner, suffering from having splintered her right radius in four places, she is experiencing what happens when one of the forearm bones refuses to “dance”, as I like to say, with the other forearm bone. The radius and ulna are always moving in a partnership, like dancing, to do things like open doors, turn pages of books, etc. Since she’s right-handed, and this is the right radius that is suffering from a break, her own aggravation is that much more, and her need to depend on me for such simple tasks as popping open the can of seltzer water is a bit humbling. In turn, I am finding that I have to strike the right balance between care and concern for her, but not overdoing things or, as my partner calls it, “fussing” over her. It’s been hard to see her in pain and knowing that there is very little I can do to help her beyond opening cans of water and pill bottles. And then there’s the acceptance that perhaps that, and letting her voice her frustrations and moan about the achiness of it all, is just what’s needed. Sometimes, there can be this rush to want to “fix it” and make it all better. But the only thing that will “fix” this break is the time her body needs to repair itself. This is where the welcoming of being present comes in. My job is to do those things for her that I can do, and then trust that the body has been imbued with wisdom and will repair itself. A skilled surgeon can also do a lot to help with that! Please keep us in your prayers.

1 comment:

Phoebe McFarlin said...

I remember being the care giver of a fellow seminary student when she had rotator cuff surgery. The struggle to help only when necessary, and to listen always. Of course the prayers continue for both of you!