It was so beautiful this weekend Ezra wanted to go on a walk so of course I was only too happy to push him in Charles (my stroller) and chat with Ruth as we made it halfway down our street. Ed got to go on a birthday walk :). I paid for my enthusiasm this morning, though, since my back was unhappy.
This new back thing is probably light-years away from the pain people with actual spinal problems deal with (you know, the kind where the patient can name the letters/numbers of the joints where the issue is), but it’s just enough to make me plan my activities around it. Remember when I took the day off a couple weeks ago bc my back was hurting? Well, it hasn’t gone away completely, and I know now that I’m usually exhausted by 6pm. I really have to limit how much I stand or exercise, which is incredibly frustrating, BTW, and I also have to be careful how I sit – e.g. the piano bench is not good, and the bar stools in our kitchen are not ideal (they require too much balance to be restful). So I’m trying to be careful, and make good choices, but this also limits my evening activities, e.g. having friends visit after work, or going to meeting on Sunday or Tuesday night. I really don’t know how the Spring Conference is going to pan out for me, but we’re gonna find out – see you there!
Happily, I had acupuncture first thing this morning. So I walked into the office stooped at a 45 degree angle I hoped no one noticed and walked out standing upright. The pain relief has been marked. Although it’s strongest directly after treatment, it’s enough to help me manage the rest of my day (e.g. I thought I’d use the chair lift at VT but walked up the stairs instead) and to keep me coming back for more.
So I’m learning how to manage this business and cope with my limitations. I’ve been trying to do the same thing with how I read my Bible. When I first showed up at VT I told my doctor, I don’t want to read, I need to read. What I meant is that everything I’m trained for requires reading, and since I would dearly like to earn a living again in the future, I need to read. Learning braille has come up in a medical setting only once, and it was not mentioned as a good solution for me – it was cited as the only other option (other than getting better). Since I probably lack the tactile discernment to read bumps, I’m taking the “getting better” route.
Reading is also critical to how I live. At the beginning of 2012 I bought a little pink notebook with a hummingbird on the front, a pack of new colored pencils, and one of my favorite Bible study books that I liked to use as a guide for my reading in my old life. (Side note: There is a difference between devotional reading and Bible study. Sadly, I did not master this distinction consistently before I got sick.) I was thrilled to be able to write in my notebook and type notes on my computer as I read the Word in the mornings. I had been told I needed to force myself to read, so I did.
It didn’t last. My body was protesting loudly and I have learned that the kind of injury I am dealing with is not one you can bring into submission through bodily discipline and just muscle through. Man alive – I had enough discipline issues when I was well – now that I’ve had a major medical event I’m more of the opinion that my body needs time (a lot of it) to heal and that part of my recovery is to think of workarounds.
So this is my workaround. I had fondly hoped that my vision issues would carry a fringe benefit of greater auditory attentiveness, but that has not been the case. I have to practice being a good listener, and here’s how:
1) Choose your audio Bible.
There are tons of options when it comes to listening Bibles. Examples: A) Podcasts – you can subscribe/download when you have a wi fi connection and you’re ready to listen on the go if you like. Some have multiple portions of scripture on them – you might choose to concentrate on thinking of the questions (in #2 below) for one portion and listen to the rest. Or you can choose a podcast featuring only one reading. B) Audio books – download once and you’re free to listen anytime. Gvk and K gave me an audio Bible last summer. I’ve also purchased a couple from iTunes. Just make sure whatever you choose is divided in a way that you can navigate and find your place. C) Websites like Biblegateway.com will let you look up a passage then press a button to listen to it. D) Apps like Bible.is (Faith Comes by Hearing, I think) are so user-friendly. You just choose your language/translation and press a button. One of my friends lets her phone read to her in the car. I let my phone read to me while I work on my hair in the morning. LOVE it. Questions to consider: Do I want dramatized or non-dramatized? What translation do I want? Is this format easy to navigate? How much does this cost? (There are free options for all formats above.) Is this one reading, or 3+ (e.g. Bible-in-a-year format)? Is there commentary in this podcast, or do I just want the narrator to read the text? Side note: If English is not your preferred language, there are SO many free options to be downloaded (e.g. Malayalam, Japanese, Portuguese, Arabic etc.) Before I went to Africa I got a free podcast of the Gospels in an African language I had never heard of (I had only ever heard of Swahili, so that wasn’t too hard). But the fact that ministries like Faith Comes by Hearing provide this kind of resource and that organizations like Wycliffe work so hard at translating is such a big deal to so many people.
2) Make your Picture/Question book: There are 6 questions – Who, What, When, Where, Why and How? Take 6 pictures of your favorite people and compile them in a mini photo album. (Examples below.)
3) Establish a Habit: I am definitely a creature of habit. Before I got sick I’d grind my coffee and get it all ready the night before so I could roll out of bed, flip the switch, and enjoy a nice cup of joe as I read after my shower. Getting up early, it has been said (or at least on time), is a process that starts the night before (i.e. go to bed early!). In the morning you can listen to your phone/iPod/computer read to you, flip through your book and answer the questions. The key is to be as attentive as possible while listening and to practice the art of meditation – turn the passage over in your mind and think about it.