Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

Relief and the Relativity of Appreciation of Life

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Nov 30, 2013 9:34 PM

I suffered a knee injury as a result of overextending my leg when running. It pushed the knee fat pad against the nerves, causing mucho pain for 6 wks. First, I could hardly walk. Then, I could walk a bit but not bend my knee for stairs, bicycle, or elliptical without pain. It's not even a serious injury, just a common athletic one, and I'm proud that it has nothing to do with old age . Now, it's healing and I'm feeling well enough to walk for half an hour. Maybe, I'll be able to run again in a week or two. Hope so. The relief I feel, having gone from not sleeping due to the nerve pain radiating down my leg, to feeling totally normal as I write this blog, reminds me of the relativism of attitude. It's the old "I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet." How often do we take our health (or anything) for granted?

There are patients who walk with a black cloud of depression so thick that they can't even appreciate their inner and outer beauty and the good things in their lives. When eventually they achieve some relief, the change in perspective is miraculous. They appreciate colors, breathing, smiles, blue sky, music, friendship, food, and more all for the first time in a long time. They can play again, relate to others and feel productive.

There are rehab patients who can't walk or talk after a stroke or accident or war. They don't think they can cope with the effort it will take to live with their pain and disability. After lots of hard work and the passsage of time to heal, when the day comes that they can move around better, communicate freely or think clearly, they are aware in a totally different way from before. A person who had seizures can just appreciate being conscious without the fear of losing that consciousness and the control which goes with it at any time. The person with narcolepsy who can finally stay awake with the right meds appreciates driving without fear of going off the road, working without getting drowsy, and paying attention in a way that most people wouldn't. The amputee who can now walk or grab something with artificial limbs has a relief that life may still be possible now.

You can come up with your own examples. The point is one we all forget too often. Everyday health and life are so fleeting. Let's appreciate what we have going for us.

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