At 5’ 11” my stride averages about 20-24 inches, a bit of a sway in my hips. At times I may even lope a bit with my long, lanky legs. Of course, if I am wearing heels, particularly a skirt, my gait is bit more demur, more feminine, smaller steps. When I am out for a walk up and down the hills of my neighborhood I am more athletic, covering more ground with long purposeful strides.
Today I take very small, very slow, very careful steps, not much swaying and definitely no loping. The sciatic nerve in my right leg is pinched. Some of you know what that means.
Two weeks ago muscles in my right hip/leg were in spasm. My movements limited considerably. Several days later the area was so inflamed I couldn’t tell what was going on. The miraculous maze of muscles and tendons and nerves that typically function beautifully as I move through space, alive, engaged in my world was seriously malfunctioning! I subsequently spent two full days in a complete stupor, pain medication, muscle relaxants, ice, heat, rest. This was followed by: five days of limited mobility, a mild haze of prescription drugs and sudden electric bursts that let me know my movements were inappropriate for my current condition. This experience has now settled into “sciatica” a pinching of the nerve by inflammation of tissue or joint in the hip or back area. My range of motion limited to small steps, I am also unable to sit at a 90 ish degree angle and move my right leg from side to side, a motion required to move the foot from the gas to the brake and back again. I have been unable to drive.
At first blush this appears to be an unfortunate circumstance. I am suffering, in a sense, the pain, the lack of mobility, the inability to meet all of my scheduled appointments. I entertain the idea of wishing things were different. Alas, they are not. If I persist in this wish that things be different I will just suffer more. In the Buddhist philosophy this is called the suffering of suffering. We suffer from the ripening of a particular circumstance in our lives, for example an inflamed whatever pressing on the sciatic nerve sending sudden electric shocks down your leg, we are disappointed, we want it to be different, we may even project all kinds of tragic possibilities, a bit of poor me. We think it shouldn’t be this way. We suffer more.
I invite a different perspective. I mine for the gifts; they are there, they are always there. I have lived long enough to know that things are not always as they appear and as an ordinary mortal, I cannot possibly understand the full impact of anything in a given moment. This may turn out to be the biggest blessing of my life, who can really say? I am doing different things from what I planned or expected, I am spending time with different people, they are touching my life and I theirs. I am engaging my life differently. I am taking smaller steps. I could complain, suffer a bit more, I choose to be alive in discovery.
One thing I have discovered is what amazing friends I have. Over the course of the past two weeks you have checked in on me, brought me food and medicine, taken me shopping, taken me to the doctor, arranged for massage, for fresh air, even built a bookcase for me. You have kindly and generously made sure my needs were met on many levels, each of you patient with me as I yelped and grimaced my way through very basic movements. I am experiencing the beauty of loving kindness and compassion displayed all around me. I have said many times that my goal in life is to learn to love well. I am learning what that looks like from you.
As for the leg, it improves everyday. All the support I need to heal is available to me. I am loved and I am open to the gift that is life. Thank you for being a part of mine.