AwareNow: Issue 20: The Kind Edition

Page 63

‘MEDICINE WITH WORDS’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY ELIZABETH BLAKE-THOMAS

THE POWER OF KINDNESS

A CONSIDERATE CURE FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

Four months ago I woke up to a pain that was the most excruciating I’ve ever felt in my life.

It wasn’t spontaneous, though. For quite a few months prior I had been having pain in my back and my right leg, but I had totally ignored it. I tried to push it down, willing it to simply go away. But that morning in particular, it was the worst it had ever been. My body had decided enough was enough, and forced me to hit the brakes.

The pain was so bad I felt like my body was actually broken and being held together by my skin. If I turned too quickly with a slight twist, I would come tumbling down like the game of Jenga. Any precarious movement and I would be broken. But it wasn’t just movement that hurt. Sitting still, lying down, none of it was comfortable. My hips got so painful they felt like they were on fire 24/7. Nothing I did made me comfortable. I couldn’t even sleep to take myself away from the excruciating pain. I woke with pain, went to sleep in pain. Every second of every day was constant, debilitating pain.

My normal life physically had to stop. I couldn’t drive anywhere, go to the grocery store. Living on my boat, carrying anything, walking anywhere, even sitting on a chair, was horrendous. If I couldn’t do the simplest of tasks, how was I ever going to have a proper life? It began to take its toll on me mentally. I had no idea what was wrong with me, so I had no idea how to fix it. I had to accept that it wasn’t just going to fade away on its own. I needed help.

Upon doctors’ tests, it was determined that I had three slipped discs and an annular tear, amongst other things. I literally had no choice but to stop and put full focus on my recovery.

“…being kind to myself always felt selfish…”

The most important thing that I needed at that moment was kindness. Kindness from friends and family, but I also needed to be kind to myself. I’m the type of person that will sleep on the floor if necessary, give up my comfy chair for someone else to sit, stand when it’s needed, drive others, and pick people up. Offer to do what’s needed or more helpful to others, ahead of my own needs. I’m not trying to say I’m amazing or any different to other people. It was just to me, being kind to myself always felt selfish when I could instead be helping others. I had no idea how to be kind to myself, but the doctors said it was necessary to heal. I quickly learned it meant spending money and time on myself to get better. I wasn’t used to that. These things were normally kept for my daughter, my dog, or my friends. I had to change my entire lifestyle to accommodate my new physical needs. I had to buy a mattress to properly sleep on, and purchase a more supportive chair. My daily schedule had to shift to incorporate physical therapy and stretches. I had learn to press pause on work or get up earlier in order to take myself off for a walk each day. I had to eat better, taking proper care of my body.

63 AWARENOW / THE KIND EDITION

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