Thursday, December 10, 2015

Working through Immobility

It has been nine days since I had knee reconstruction surgery. If I wanted to continue with my active lifestyle of hiking, spinning, and biking, I needed this to happen. From October 2013- July 2015, I went through four cancer related surgeries, with a few rounds of chemotherapy thrown in. So another surgery was not really something I was thrilled about. But, as you all know who follow my blog, I have vowed to live the one life I have to the fullest, and a torn ACL would not allow me to do all the things I love and to explore all the new adventures I hope to have in the future.  You have read my blogs which all point to being grateful, to never taking things for granted, to living life with purpose. This one is no different. I don’t want to sound redundant….but every time I have a physical set back, my mind and heart go on re-set. I am reminded once again of all the things I forget to appreciate when I am running around doing life like everyone else.  As I continue this blog post, please know that I am writing from a “first world problem” perspective. But it is my perspective, the one I know because I live it and own it. I am always trying to challenge myself and my readers to re-think their perspective and attitudes—not because I am so good at it (which I am not), but because I need to remind myself daily as well.

I am on crutches and will be on them for another three weeks. I cannot drive (it is my right knee of course). I have the use of a wheelchair which I can use in certain parts of the house, but it is too big to get into parts of the kitchen or my bathroom. So these are the things I cannot do now:

I can’t go to the refrigerator and get a cup of water because I can’t carry it to where it I want to go because of the crutches. (Ditto for a cup of coffee or a plate of food)
I can’t go to the grocery store and push a cart down an aisle or get food for my family.
I can’t cook, do laundry, make my bed or sweep the floor. I can’t pull my clothes out of the closet and I can’t hang them back up. (I am getting better at this)
I can’t walk my dogs, walk to the mailbox to get the mail, go hiking, biking or shopping.

Now some of you might be saying—that sounds like the life! Have everyone else do things for you!
I can guarantee you that when you are in a position of immobility and extreme dependence, it is not “the life”. Of course my boys are independent, and my husband is truly “Saint Greg”, and my mom has been here for a week doing all of the above things for me. But it takes a toll--especially when you are a driven, busy, control freak woman like me. It is painful to be dependent. It is hard to see things that need to be done and have to ask someone else to do it. Especially when the way I want things done is so different from the way others might do it. So what does it all come down to? Control. That one issue that I have to combat all my life. You would think I would have learned it through my cancer battle. But it keeps rearing its ugly head. Daily. You might say, “Kirsten, give it up….loosen up….let things go….” Oh believe me, I say these things to myself every day. It is hourly self talk.
I took a Strength Finders test to find my strengths that help you understand yourself and others and how you relate to those in your work field and in your life. My top two “strengths” were “Discipline” and “Maximizer.”  Discipline is self explanatory. Maximizer is someone who is never satisfied with “good” and is always working to make structures and systems and people “great”.  So take a person like that and put her in a wheel chair for a month and it is not a pretty picture.

It has taken nine days, but around day seven I resigned myself to the fact that this is my reality for at least the next month. And after that it will be a full five months until I am back to my full hiking mode.  Each day I could complain about a LOT of things. Or I can focus on the things I CAN do right now.

Pray, read my Bible, read books and magazines, watch tv or movies. I can work from home on the computer, text encouraging messages to friends, call and talk to friends or people I haven’t talked with in awhile. I can write cards and tell my husband and boys that I love and appreciate them. I can accept help from friends (I know that is hard to do, but I have learned how important it is). I can laugh and give hugs and watch the sun set from my back patio. I cannot use my right leg now, but there is so much I can do if I just put myself in the right mind set.

I know that when this season is over I will go back to my busy lifestyle—I will be driving, running errands, doing committee work, meeting friends, doing the job I love…..and I know I will forget. I will forget how much I appreciated all those things. I will find something else to complain about.  So my challenge to myself and to my readers is once again the most simple of things. Do not take who you are and what you have for granted. If you walked today, be grateful. If you went to work today, or drove a car today, or put on clothes today, or put food on your table today…be grateful. It may seem like the drudgery of life for you, but don’t take it for granted.

For people like me who are driven—who are disciplined and who are “maximizers”—it is easy to be impatient with the ordinary days, the days  where you don’t feel like you are impacting the world, or being purposeful, or making a difference. But right now, I have to accept that I am in a slow and very dry season.

I don’t know where you might feel “immobile” in your life right now. I am physically immobile, but you may be experiencing immobility in your relationships, or your finances or your job or with your plans for your future. Whatever it is, accept it as much as you can, and look upward to Christ and outward toward others. The more you focus inward—on your own pity and complaints, then your immobility is sure to paralyze you. As my dear friend from Uganda (Stephen Hibu) told me, “Immobility does not mean inactivity”.

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