Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Walking a Mile in Someone Else's Shoes

There is nothing in this world to help a person become more sympathetic to the plight of others than going through a similar hardship.

My husband has, for the most part, enjoyed a very healthy life. Not until the last five or so years has his body begun to show some very distinct signs of age. Poor guy. Suddenly a man who rarely took pain reliever when he was in pain has to take all sorts of meds to regulate things he's never had to worry about before.

The funny (and not ha-ha funny but interesting funny) is a lot of what he's been experiencing lately I've been going through for years. Like heart burn. I remember when he described the first time he had heart burn. There was almost panic in his eyes. But I'd been there...since I was a teen I'd been there. So I walked him through the first episode, we found out his was worse (acid reflux), and was so happy when he finally found something that would help take the daily pain away.

Then came the migraines. My husband had never experienced a migraine (I'm not sure if he'd really had a headache), and suddenly he's overcome with pain every single day! Fortunately, once again, he and the doctor were able to find something to help with the daily part. Unfortunately he still gets the occasional migraine, but occasional is definitely not daily, and for that we're so grateful.

The latest in a short line of odd things to go wrong with your body has been his trapezium (sp?) muscle. About two weeks ago he began hurting along the back, right side of his neck. Over time the pain has become increasingly worse and has spread into his back and shoulder, keeps him up at night, and is sometimes so painful he can barely lift his head. He headed into the doctor yesterday, who gave him a stronger pain reliever and a muscle relaxant. He slept very well last night, and is actually outside right now mowing the lawn because he feels better. Not great, but this is a man who'll work regardless of a 102 degree temp saying, "It's nothing."

I tell you all these things about my husband (and don't tell him I told you all this...he might not be as willing to share the intricacies of his life as much as I am) because I've watched him over the last few years gain greater empathy, in particular here in our little family. You see, shortly before he started getting migraines our oldest had them as well. Not daily, but bad enough they would make her throw up. Suddenly my husband found himself with greater patience when she began to complain. And now that our younger son has daily migraines, my husband is even more willing to help find something to make the pain go away.

With his acid reflux and heart burn, well it probably seems silly, but he has an idea of what I've lived with most of my life. Now when I say I have heart burn, he's much more understanding of the pain I'm experiencing.

This last little "glitch" in the body has sure thrown him for a loop, but it's something I've had happen at least once or twice a year for the last several years. Again, he now understands a little more why I've been laid down flat for a day or two when I have it.

So compassion is certainly my husband's lesson. But I've certainly gained one as well. If this awesome man of mine had not been the sort of wonderful man he is, I may have spent each episode crowing, "I told you so!" Fortunately for us both he's never been the sort of person to lack compassion for the trials of another, even if he couldn't personally understand what they were enduring.

For me the lesson has been a realization that instead of being the person who stands back and feels justified that someone else really understands what I'm experiencing, I have instead said, "Okay. I know what you're going through. So let me use my past experience in helping you out."

We will all eventually walk a mile, or even just a few feet, in the shoes of another. In that time we have a chance to learn compassion, and will hopefully gain a friend in the process.

1 comment:

LaDawn said...

You both deserve and need frequent massages! I hope you can call get feeling better. You and Dave work so hard, and your kids are just wonderful.