I have had chronic back pain for eight years. I am now 29, which means that all through my twenties I have fraternized daily with physical pain. This isn’t a whine. The pain, though unpleasant, is not agony. Also, as far as I know, I am not ill. There is much to be thankful for as regards my overall health.
Nevertheless, it does drain the soul when everyday tasks like walking or standing become uncomfortable. Next weekend I will be hiking in western Maryland. The clean air, the trees, and the companionship will bring a much-anticipated dose of freude. I just wish that I could enjoy this without pain, for once. We want perfect lives and this affliction, this ache, is a reminder that mine is the life of ha’adam, which is many.
Still, what should I expect? We all have pain, sorrow where the eye can’t see. Pain of the body, of the spirit, of the heart, and, God-forbid, of the mind. I’m 29: I want to play soccer without drugging myself up with painkillers. I’m 29: I want to go to the Monet exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art without wanting to pretend I’m disabled so someone can push me around in a wheelchair. Silly things. I’m 29. Isn’t life supposed to be perfect? If it’s tough now, am I doomed?
Again, no tears for Ronan. He’s not got cancer, he’s alive. And at least I can walk. Life is good. I’m on the capstone of the pyramid of the world. Far below me are Beslan and Bosnia, Indonesia and Iraq.
I have seen all manner of -ists in my search for wellness. No-one knows what’s wrong with my back. If I was really rich then I might find an -ist who could work some mojo on me, but alas. What comforts me is hope. One day they’ll figure out it’s my feet or something, and I will get fitted with $20 inserts and, hey presto, I’ll hike the Appalachian Trail.
I’m not one for “the Lord gives us trials to make us better” and all that stuff. The Lord is welcome to curse me with a bad back any day of the week. It’s no terrible thing. But that kind of reasoning can end up on the crest of a tsunami or in Auschwitz. My God does not afflict, he blesses. In delaying his blessings, affliction may result, but that’s another thing entirely.
There is much pain out there. You probably have pain too. I am so sorry for that. Let’s help each other. At the very least we can hope. Hope for the doctor with the miracle cure. Hope for the faith to bring power from heaven through the hands of the priesthood. Hope for the love and healing of the Master. Hope for the love and friendship of another.
Hope makes me happy, and dulls the pain. Hope means I can’t wait to go hiking on Saturday. I’ll post pictures. And take some Ibuprofen. The pills may give me ulcers, but not yet. I’m only 29 after all.