Some days can be a struggle. We all have those kinds of days, when we wake up and something seems off. Life seems a little bleaker and the world seems a little darker—for seemingly no particular reason. Those are the days when we have to dig deeper for strength. And those are the days when gratitude is most important.
Sometimes even relatively minor incidents can set us off in the wrong direction. Recently I was at my cardiologist’s office. He had to change out one of my medications because it was adversely affecting my kidney. It’s a balancing act with some of these medications, requiring frequent adjustments to keep everything working as it should.
What makes this type of thing a challenge for me is that it reminds me that I’m not as healthy as I want to be. I need medicine to protect my heart, and if that medicine isn’t working right I need to try something else. Sometimes meds have side effects that can necessitate the need for other medications.
But these are the very situations where I need to be especially grateful for the fact that the drugs enable me to have a working, transplanted kidney. They are regulating my heart function. They give me the ability to enjoy day-to-day activities, including learning how to walk better on my prosthetic foot.
And on that topic, it’s been a little over two months since I first received my artificial foot. I was at the prosthetist’s office the other day hoping to get fitted for the next and more long-term version. As I mentioned in an earlier post, getting a new fitting after having the initial device for a few months is part of the prosthetic journey. It’s a big step (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
The prosthetist said I was doing great with my walking at this stage. But I still have to wait until late September to get the new model, which would be 90 days from when I received the first prosthetic. This is due to insurance regulations. The new socket, the part of the prosthesis that actually goes over my leg, will be lighter and fit tighter. That should make it easier to walk.
The thing is, I want to be able to walk farther and longer than I can now. I want to prove to myself that I can at least walk around the block.
Sometimes it’s hard to wait, and it can be difficult to appreciate the progress I’ve made when I want to make even more. This is another good opportunity to embrace gratitude. I try to remind myself to be grateful to have a prosthetic at all. I’m lucky I can move around on my own, and without the near constant foot pain I was experiencing before the amputation. Gratitude makes the wait tolerable.
A big part of my relearning how to walk is physical therapy, and I recently completed my initial round at the appropriately named First Step physical therapy facility.
The staff worked me hard and made me do things that I probably wouldn’t try on my own. The exercises improved my balance and made me stronger. I have to admit there were some days I didn’t want to go and be reminded of how difficult it was to do things that once seemed so easy. But ultimately, I realize how much the sessions have helped.
Another big benefit of going to physical therapy, though, was seeing the other patients there and how they were coping with their own issues. I got to see how their strength, determination and grit were helping them in their own recuperation.
I think success in overcoming challenges—health-related or otherwise—comes from persistently refusing to give in to the hurdles. We have to keep picking ourselves up when we fall. I experienced this literally a few weeks ago when I took a tumble onto the floor because I didn’t have the prosthetic attached correctly before I stood up and started walking.
Fortunately, the result was just a bruised hip, and a lesson not to rush things. Slow and steady can indeed win the race.
For all of us, some days are going to be challenging. There are days when it’s easy to wallow in self-pity or feel anxiety and frustration. Those are the days when gratitude is so important. Because when you remind yourself of what you have, of what you can do, of what the possibilities are, and of the blessings of each day, how can you not be grateful?
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”—Abraham Lincoln