The View from my Hospital Bed

On top of everything else that’s hard to do from a hospital bed, typing is no picnic. It’s become both increasingly important and difficult for me to blog. I need to write out how I feel, examine my own perspective, and to simply make sense of my life and how I’m dealing with it. Lately that’s a tall order.

I’m on day 23 inpatient at EMMC for an injury I sustained over 20 years ago. What was thought to be a benign cyst has turned out to be something that has been slowly damaging me every day since the early 90’s. Kind of a brutal revelation, that. A lot of well meaning folks ask me if there might be someone I could sue?

I get it. We want order and justice and so we insist that there should always be a way to make things fair. We want cause and effect and solutions to problems. Worst of all, we want karma to work in a timely and clear cut fashion. The people who love me the most are kinda stuck in how unfair this is and how I don’t deserve it. Worse, they all want so badly to do something to make it better. While I value the love and comfort they give, they feel bad because they can’t do more.

I’ve had six surgeries in three weeks and am facing several more. I’m meeting with surgeons and doctors and lots of folks who are very distressed by my condition. I’m in my hospital bed which means I’m looking up into their faces. The very kind woman who checked in on me this morning said, “I’m just so upset to see this happening to you.” I smiled, shrugged, and said, “Yeah, me too.”

I’m pretty good at being powerless. I’m able to quickly identify when there’s not a damned thing I can do about something. I’m good at not stressing over the things that I can do nothing to control, change, or improve.

I’ve had a lot of practice in bearing witness to the pain of others. I’ve learned that there are always limits to what I can do. I’ve learned that I cannot control outcomes and that how things turn out is often no reflection whatsoever of the value of my efforts.

I’ve learned to embrace the adage, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Suffering is experiencing pain alone and without sufficient release. I choose to grieve – to share my pain with others and to let go of all that is not good for me. Right now I live with a lot of unknowns. I am going to lose some toes and perhaps far more. I am going to go through a lot more pain, operations, physical therapy, and I am going to be stuck in this bed for a long time it seems. I can do nothing to change this – only pray, follow what the doctors tell me, and lean on the amazing people my Higher Power puts in my life.

To those I serve and work with, I miss you and am so looking forward to returning to you as soon as I am able. To those who continue to ask, “What can I do?” Send love, prayers and baked goods. Please don’t spend even a moment wishing it was more – know that it’s received in gratitude and not measured, compared, or judged by how much it improves my immediate circumstances.

I am blessed to be loved so well by so many. Sooner or later, everything else works out.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.