(Guest Post) 3 Lessons I Learned from a Catheter

This post is my father, John Riley‘s, words. If you’ve heard him speak you will be able to hear him within these writings. I hope he will continue talking about the lessons he’s learning through his personal journey into grief that began in the Fall of 2015 after the sudden death of his brother, Buddy. As long as he keeps telling stories, I’ll keep typing. 

Our hope is that these raw renderings will provide some much-needed relief and hope to those who are new to pain and loss. The ones among us who suffer silently while wishing for the person who understands to share their experience so they can say, “Really? Me too!”

I would encourage you to listen to the newly added audio with dad reading the post. Hearing a story read by its author gives it the ability to come alive. It will also give you a glimpse into why he is such a gifted communicator.

CatheterWhen someone in a white lab coat with the letters M.D. on the end of their name that’s stitched on the pocket, starts talking about you and a catheter in the same sentence, it’s sobering.

Once you get to thinkin’ about the reality of the proposed solution for what you hope is a temporary problem, it can really getcha down.

So… you have conversations… with said catheter and you get real honest.
It may sound something like this, “You and I are not going to be friends but, we’ll put up with each other as long as we have to and then we’re through!”

For me, it was only a month.
For many, it can be the rest of their lives.

Now y’all, that’s serious.

I don’t mean this to be too light hearted. It’s just that, trying to learn from it was better than cryin’ and cussin’ and carryin’ on… I suppose.

So, here are three things I learned from my catheter.
Excuse me, THE catheter.
I never wanted to own the thing.

1.- Pain can have benefits… if you let it.

Well, shoot! It’s hard to say what the benefits are because I can’t really think of many, but mainly you appreciate times of no pain.

After two weeks when I was told by my doctor (who is absolutely fantastic), “Sorry, we have to wait another week and another test.” I was upset. I had to process it.
It was only then that I could be thankful for this thing, discomfort and all, making it possible for me to heal inside.

So, I was extremely grateful that I was improving and that the greater percentage of my body was pretty healthy.

I also found gratitude for whoever invented the catheter. (That sounds weirder than I thought it would.) But seriously, I got really thankful for all the lives this person saved, including mine. Without this dang catheter, I would have already exploded five times over! Now, that’s enough to make even me grateful.

2.- Compassion has been defined as entering into the sorrows of another person and thereby showing mercy. I think that’s the way it goes?

How could I possibly enter into someone’s sorrow when I had never had the same sorrow?

I have been through the deaths of… well… everybody in my family older than I am, but this was my first time with a catheter. Now I can really feel for someone who has to have this great invention for a day, or for life.

Also, it teaches me that even though I don’t know personally what someone else is going through, I can know that it’s hard… even though I’ve not experienced the same thing. I thought I understood what it meant to be empathetic, but I’m not sure I ever truly have… before this. I hope that I will never again be unconcerned about another person’s problem.

3.- Make adjustments

By this, I don’t just mean which leg to put the bag on… but everything… well almost everything, you’ve done for many years.

Here are just a few that I have learned… fast… ’cause I didn’t have a choice.

Sleeping – don’t move around much. Get accustomed to sleeping on your back and your side. It’s not bad… except for sometimes… when it is.

Shower – unplug, clean, replug, dry… always makes ya feel better.

Dress – got me a whole new set of underwear, relaxed and unrestricted.
I didn’t realize boxers could be so comfortable! Wear ’em all the time now.

I have some that look like shorts, but the other day at my little community bank I go to, my friend the loan officer told me he could tell they were underwear. Oh well…

Loose pants are my friend. Especially sweat pants. But on days when the temperature in Alabama is 85 degrees, it looks kinda weird. So… I just stayed at home a lot.

Walking – was sometimes pretty easy, annnnd sometimes not.
Most of the time it felt like I was walkin’ with my legs spread like I just got off a horse. Nobody seemed to really notice except for one friend who did say to me, “Why are you walkin’ so funny?!”
“It’s a long story!” I thought to myself. I have lots of conversations in my own head these days. Know what I mean?

Exercise – wasn’t on the agenda. Every day made me look forward to the time I could really start back exercising and made me feel a deep concern for those who never can.

So, the catheter has taught me to be open to learning new ways of doing things. As I get real close to being 70 years of age, it makes me realize I want to keep growing.

Considering these three things, I hadn’t really thought of it, but maybe the catheter was my friend? However, I’m not gonna have it framed and hang it on the wall. (Can you imagine?! Yuck!)

What are you going through that people can’t necessarily see, but is making a huge impact in your everyday? Has it taught you a kind of gratitude that you never knew you wanted to learn?

Salt & Lemon in the Wound

We’ve all had at least one.
It’s small, barely noticeable until bumped and reopened.
Typically, we don’t even remember how it happened.
We don’t realize it’s there until a small grain of salt or anything acidic gets in, then it’s hard to think of anything else.

What am I talking about?IMG_7780

A paper cut.

I have a paper cut close to the tip of my right ring finger. Can’t see it? Let me zoom in…
FullSizeRender
You’re thinking, “Not a big deal.” Right?
Wrong! I’ve had incisions held together with staples that didn’t give me as much trouble as this tiny, surface scratch.

Not only is it annoying, but I forget it’s there until I pick up a lemon to squeeze in my water. Doing so will quickly remind me of this tiny nuisance and all but draw tears to my eyes with the sudden and intense stinging.

I started thinking…
this little paper cut is much like the things I don’t see as a big deal until they show up in the form of a personal insecurity or when one of my children say or do them, they quickly become the center of attention and something that must be dealt with immediately before turning into a much larger issue.

What do I mean?

We’ve all told lies that come back to bite us in the butt, or spent too much money on something we didn’t need, or had one drink too many, or eaten more dessert than we should have. Those are obvious snares that if not managed properly will grow bigger and deeper over time.

But what about those things that no one else can see. The internal nicks and scrapes? The habitual thoughts that we keep to ourselves.

What are you telling yourself on a daily basis, when you’re the only one listening?

What are your mental paper cuts?

Maybe it sounds like this…
I’m so fat.
I’m ugly.
I’m just average.
What makes me think I can help anyone else when I can’t even help myself?
I’m ridiculous.
I’m a mess.
I will never be able to do this.

When you make a mistake you may think to yourself or say under your breath…
Stupid!
I’m such a dumb ass.
Idiot!

Every time you make these kinds of statements to yourself, you are paper cutting your mind. You’re placing tiny, yet annoying, easily irritated, abrasions on your brain. They may remain unnoticed until getting rubbed by a situation or brought to the surface after the sting of a cunning remark or judgmental glance. It all starts with one statement that doesn’t even have to be said out loud. It could be only a thought.

Things that I don’t think are a big deal can become the most cumbersome mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Why? Because they could easily and quickly heal if not continually reopened. However, we must consciously protect our thought life, because as we all know, thoughts lead to words which lead to actions which inevitably lead to outcomes.

How? Stay away from the sour things that sting and burn. Refute the negativity with truth, immediately when it enters your mind. Allow yourself to heal completely before continuing on with your normal routine. Don’t allow thoughts, statements and actions to continually cut you. Guard your heart and your mind against the seemingly harmless things that happen without notice and before long have a power over you that distracts and frustrates you throughout your day.

Stay focused on your purpose and when the paper cuts come, recognize them for what they are, avoid salt and citrus until healed, and live your life on purpose.

Five Minute Friday: Voice

Listen closely
Do you hear that?
It’s the whisper of self
The voice inside you
Inside us all
Motivating your choices
Steering your future
Speaking up whenever there is a decision to be made
What is it saying?
Is it the voice of truth
Telling you to step outside your comfort zone
Telling you to walk by faith if you want to inherit eternal blessings
Nudging you to look up and around at all the beauty and life
Speaking the words of your Creator into your soul
Do you hear it?
What’s it saying?
This may be the most important voice you listen to
Why?
Because it’s your choice
Yours alone
No one can choose for you
Today
In this moment
I will choose
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Do you want to write with abandon? Come join us for #FMF by clicking here.

 

Egomaniac with an Inferiority Complex

Ever feel like you’re walking around inside out? Like people can see, not who, but what you are?

Or that you have a neon word glowing above your head?

I do.

For me, it could be any number of things over the years… alcoholic, people pleaser, bulimic, liar, gossiper, faker, cheater, doubter, wounded, hypocrite, quitter…the list is lengthy and it only gets worse.

What’s your word?

Did you immediately think of something negative?

Why do I turn into a “Nancy negative” (no offense Nancy) when it comes to self-awareness checks?

Is it because I’m humble? Hardly!

It’s because my ego gets the better of me and I begin comparing my insides to your outsides. I become fixated on the past, instead of focused on the future, while living in the present.

Humor me for a minute and let’s go another route.

What if, when I went out into the world, I walked around with a different list of words adorning my head? Words like…Believer, Redeemed, Recovered, Loved, Forgiven, Cherished, Treasured, Saved, Blessed, Beautiful, Capable, Wanted, Free, Worthy, Accepted…as I wrote these words, I read them out loud. It is amazing the tone, the energy, the transformation of thought from one paragraph to another simply by changing a few words.

Ladies, we are the worst about this. Be careful what you are speaking into the hearts and minds of your daughters, friends and more importantly, yourself.

May I encourage you to try a little experiment with me? Come on! It will be so fun!

Take a dry erase marker (or lippy, whatever works), stand in front of the mirror where you get ready every morning, and in the space (on the mirror) above your head, choose one word of affirmation.

Write the word on your mirror so that when you look at your reflection you will see truth.

I call it, “Affirmation in Action.”

My word right now is “Redeemed.”

I begin my day with that word in my heart and on my mind. I don’t give the lies a chance to one up me.

There is power in our words. Even those never spoken, but that we allow to take up residence between our ears.

If you’re walking around all day with a head full of negative self-talk, stop it.
No really…STOP! You are going against your purpose, everything that you were designed to be. You are deeming yourself spiritually useless.

Harsh? Yes.

I speak from a position of repeat offender when it comes to bashing myself. What I am encouraging you to do, I am doing myself. Work in progress, remember. I don’t have all the answers, I am just very persistent.

It begins from within.

What’s inside you can either tear down and infect those around you with the poison of darkness. Or it can shine, igniting the light in others that is within us all. For some of us only a spark remains, while for others a fire rages.

Here is my promise to you…for the next 7 days, I am going to pray for you. I would LOVE it if you would tell me your word in the comment section below. However, even if you don’t, God knows your word and more importantly, He knows your name.

The future is very bright!

Now…

What’s your word?