Healing is Hard Work

I’ve received enthusiastic praise from countless medical staff this morning. They’re excited that I am out of bed, bathed, and pushing myself around in a wheel chair. They tell me how much better my color is when I am vertical.

These folks are consistently excited as I persevere through each procedure, treatment, and surgery. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just doing what I have to so that I can go the hell home. I will admit that every bit of healing is exhausting and I’m amazed at how little it takes to drain me these days.

I guess that’s why I’m showered with so much encouragement and praise from the hospital staff. Overall, they are a remarkably kind group of people who seek to provide a high level of care. Individually, most of them are outstanding. Collectively, they’re hindered as bureaucracy continues to reign in health care. (“I’m sorry, Jim it’s just our policy…”)

The paternalistic benevolence I’m receiving is still well intended. It’s clear that they’re trained to relate to patients this way but it’s surreal to be a 46 year old man who is praised for going pee (no matter how impressive a post surgical feat that might be).

Unfortunately, because of who/how I am, the hospital is simply one more place, one more group of people, and most of all, one more way of doing things (the medical model) where I don’t fit in. This actually endears me to most of the staff. I’m not boring, passive, or predictable.

I remain a misfit and misfits do not make good patients. We are far better at facilitating the healing of others. I am uncomfortable with my hypocrisy – I seek to serve and am uncomfortable being served. I cover my vulnerability with humor and make sure my CNAs are laughing as they help me wash my hair. The inability to care for my own body – even temporarily, is humbling.

Then there’s the stuff I can’t just laugh off. I used to have a right foot, ankle, and calf. Now I am an amputee who must learn to walk and deal with life without some of my parts. I don’t regret the choice. I do have very brief moments in which I wallow in self pity for having been forced to make them. One of the benefits of mindfulness is that I catch myself regressing pretty quickly and then I stop. I am endlessly blessed and no amount of loss changes that.

This is just one more time I will adjust in order to have a better and/or more manageable life. I will come out of this better than I went in. I have to, because otherwise it’s pointless suffering. If I can learn something, overcome something, or become something greater, then my suffering has purpose and I continue to grow spiritually. I want to embrace anew what it means to be a work in progress.

I am so grateful for my friends, family, and kin that earnestly and genuinely support me in every part of my life. I cannot imagine going through an average day without you all, much less my more difficult of days. I am honored and humbled to be so loved by such extraordinary people.

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.