This week it rained in Arizona. After many weeks of sun it was a nice break; I knew it would last only a few days rather than months.
I'd been struggling with some low back and hip pain for a number of months. Not an injury, maybe related to being overweight or wearing shoes without proper arch support. Usually these things improve with time, but this one hadn't. I finally made an appointment with my doc. She said, "We'll want to get x-rays, and you'll need to get physical therapy. Are you ready for that?"
I said yes. I was weary from not only the chronic physical discomfort, but of thinking about it. I have health anxiety and usually make things much worse in my mind than they actually are.
I got to the x-ray place the next morning. I'd had to turn on my windshield wipers for the first time in several months. I was sitting in the parking lot and realized I'd left the x-ray order on the table at home. The retrieval of the order took half an hour. By the time I was back in the parking lot agin, I had thought way too much about my physical issue, and I did a foolish thing: I ventured alone into the dangerous neighborhood of my mind. And what I concluded, for some reason, was that I've lived a good life, and if I were to die, it would be all right. It wasn't a suicidal thought at all. It was more of an awareness, which is probably a good thing to have when you're 71.
After I got the x-rays I waited to hear from the doc. She didn't call that night so I assumed it was because she was trying to figure out how to tell me I had a tumor in my spine. Really, that's what I thought. See how my mind is a dangerous neighborhood?
I saw the physical therapist the next day. I explained my symptoms. He told me that the muscles in my hip and the muscles in my back were fighting with each other. Something about compensation for a less-than-perfectly-symmetrical alignment - and wearing shoes without good arch support, and being older. He showed me a few exercises and then handed me a paper with pictures of them. I said, "You mean what I'm experiencing is common?" He said, "Oh, yes." I have appointments with him once a week for the next month.
Later that afternoon I got a text message from my doc. She said the x-rays showed arthritis. As, most likely, would be the case for any other 71-year-old person.
So there we are.
But maybe it wasn't the rain that triggered my parking lot thoughts. Here are some other possibilities:
- After five trips to Greece in the last three years to volunteer at a refugee camp, the nonprofit closed its Greece operation last month for lack of funding. The situation in Greece is as bad or worse than it was. Many of the people we helped have moved on; many are still living in the camp or on the streets of Athens. Many new people arrive every day. I keep repeating the starfish story..."It made a difference to that one", but politics and human nature being what they are, I'm not optimistic that things will improve.
- I'm volunteering at an asylum-seekers' shelter in Tucson now, but we haven't had guests for more than a week because people fleeing for their lives from other parts of the world are being held at the border. Again, it's about politics. The situation may improve, but I don't know when.
- I had spent several hours listening to the impeachment proceedings.
On the other hand, there was a fellow named Scott Warren being tried in Tucson for giving humanitarian aid to people who had walked through the desert from the southern border. I heard him speak a few weeks ago, when he acknowledged he was afraid of the possibility of prison. The day after I sat in the parking lot, he was acquitted.
"Humanitarian aid is not a crime."
The sun is out again today, and I had a wonderful massage this morning, and I'm meeting a good friend for lunch, and meeting up with other friends for dinner and a card came. I think I'm okay with being 71.