Struggling through the daily routine of physical exercises to regain full use of my body after an emergency partial hip replacement, I understand the veracity of “to truly empathize with another’s pain or joy, you have to have gone through the same pain.”
As my body knits back together and accepts the bionic part, I keep Ibuprofen handy for the pain. That simple action often triggers a prayer for the countries with little or no access to pain killers let alone immediate hospitalization and surgery.
After recently reading a biography set in an impoverished country, I wince at the suffering of injured country folks who have to be carried for day to a clinic. Just the pot holes around here leave me cringing at all the ups and downs of a trip over rough dirt roads. As I laid on the ground waiting for the ambulance, I knew one would come. I knew I would see a doctor. I knew relief would come. So I pray that more individuals in those countries get the training to meet the needs.
Waiting through the days until I can again tie my own shoes, I reflect that if I had suffered this same injury before World War II, no doctor would have considered a partial hip replacement. The hip would have been stabilized in traction for a lengthy period. In 2020, however, the day after surgery the staff urges patients to stand and walk.
My foot stayed glued to the floor. “Move, foot,” I said. It lifted a fraction of an inch forward in a baby step. Before, this experience, I would have quietly thought, “Quit your bellyaching.”
Now, I understand and urge people to keep trying.
I thank God for the development of physical therapy – a fancy name for issue directed exercise. I am not fond of exercise, but I don’t want to be incapacitated and encourage myself and others, “I know it hurts, it will get better.”
For some reason, during this recovery process, I find myself suddenly “hangry” (hungry and angry). I want food now. I do not want to wait. With all the local fast food places, I don’t have to wait. Plus, as my daughter said recently, “I don’t remember you ever rushing into town to buy bread and milk before a storm.” True, I do keep a well stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Still something about this recovery process and I hit empty with a fury.
Often with that urgency comes with the realization that in drought and famine ridden countries around the world, whole cities of people lack food. Children cry and die for it. My faint hint of hunger reminds me to pray for the countries where folks live on short rations for weeks, months and years. I pray for the rain, the end of conflict and the opening of opportunities to work. I pray for the parents who work hard to provide and still can not.
I recently read “Hope Runs” about a family in Kenya where three children ended up on the street. An orphanage eventually accepted the brothers. Repeatedly through the book the question comes, “how can we help this one or two and leave all the others without?” One time it was simply handing out donated running shoes to some of the children when there were not enough shoes for all.
Better to help a few than do nothing because not all will receive shoes.
My activities may be limited during this recovery, but through reading and empathy, I can reach out to about others and pray for them confident that prayer is the beginning point for change.