When you really want to know how blessed you are, go with someone to a medical testing center.
Yesterday, my husband had to have an MRI. Luckily, I managed to get off from work in time to go with him. Not that he needed me physically, but mentally there is something comforting about knowing someone who loves you is waiting right outside the door.
And that person, in this case – me – got a lesson about life.
The beautiful refreshment table with offerings of hot tea, coffee, cookies and muffins, couldn’t disguise the nervous energy in the room. One man had an oxygen tube around his head; another had very thick dark glasses, as though his issue was with his eyes; a middle aged woman’s teenage children kept running in and hugging her; a disheveled young woman wearing converse sneakers flew inside, offering apologies for her tardiness as she tried to explain getting lost on the way in.
But the one that broke my heart, was an elderly lady with her two daughters. They rolled her in with a wheelchair. She looked sweet with a sea of white curls framing her pale face. She was wearing a dress with a little jacket that she seemed lost inside of, as though it belonged to a much larger woman. An attendant brought her a bottle of something to drink, along with a cup and a straw. One daughter began to pour the thick white liquid into the cup. The other panicked. “They said NO DYE this time!”
The attendant tried to assure her that it wasn’t dye, but would be necessary for her to drink if they were going to be able to see her stomach and intestines properly. She acquiesced.
The lady tried to drink it, encouraged by the quiet daughter. She gagged, held her hand over her throat and then her mouth. Sip after sip, the same, until she managed to get enough down to satisfy the technician.
It felt a bit voyeuristic, but we were all in the same sardine can, mashed together in the same broth. All you can do is count your own blessings.
I began to think of all the little annoyances of everyday life; being cut off in traffic, a rude customer, going to the wrong MRI center – which we did at first and assumed the tardy lady did as well – jeans that are a little snug, getting the wrong order at the take out restaurant. How much time had I devoted to such nonsense when there were real problems waiting for us just around the bend?
I felt a little guilty, though I didn’t know why. Perhaps it was because I hadn’t been properly grateful for my health, obsessing instead over a few extra pounds. Those pounds probably saved the elderly woman’s life as she had obviously lost weight. Maybe it was because I thought my eyes were a little puffy and itchy due to the start of allergy season. Yet, I could see fine. I had cringed when I broke a fingernail, not a bone. And the tension in my neck could be soaked away at the end of the day, it wasn’t due to a ruptured disk.
We are blessed beyond our understanding of the word. My husband returns from his test rather cheerful. He doesn’t know the results of course, but it didn’t take as long as he feared, and claustrophia hadn’t had a chance to claim him. It’s one more thing to be thankful for.
I was reminded of a conversation I had about a year ago with a friend. I had taken a nasty fall two days before Christmas and was completely laid up, unable to attend any holiday events and feeling sorry for myself. Then a friend discovered she had breast cancer, and my problems seemed small. She was feeling bad for herself, until she saw a man on television with no arms. And so it goes. There will always be someone whose suffering reminds us that ours is not so great.
Claim your blessings today. Don’t focus on the rainy weekend and ruined plans, but the chance to stay inside and read a good book, or sit on the porch sipping a nice wine that is essentially that very water turned into nectar. That will make you grateful for the rain!
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