Body Betrayal


He sits across the room from me in a recliner, blue cast propped on two pillows, water jug filled at his elbow, computer on his lap while he taps away at work. Beneath the cast, two new plastic screws hold a tightened ligament in place and stitches along his ankle outline the incision used to remove a damaged and unnecessary bone. His life has been realigned, reassigned and redefined by this injury. No travel (when his work is in a city over 1,000 miles away). No weight on the ankle (when his preference is to amble around in independence). No golf (who needs to say more for anyone who knows a recreational golfer?). No control over his need to be helped (when he hates being so "needy!").

In short, he's a bit miserable and yet focused on the recovery needed to return him to life as he loves it.

Me too. Because I'm his "nurse."

She lays atop blankets, unable to move much for fear of upsetting the tentative "peace" of her digestive system. At the foot of the bed, her baby sits before Sprout TV, with his own body being initiated into the confusing tumult of intestinal flu. No food (though neither could handle any). No relief (which both would embrace!). No clue when things will finally "pass" (wouldn't it be nice to have a timeline for such things?). No work (and thus, no income for the day). No outings (so no escape through MOPS).

In short, they are miserable, yet focused on the recovery needed to return them both to life as they love it.

Me too. Because I'm their "nurse."

I confess that I'm not always a great nurse. (Step-and-fetch is what one friend calls it.) In my younger years, I actually enjoyed caring for my kids and making their various owies and illnesses better. But at times, I resented the rearrangement of my plans and work and schedule. And I'd grow growly over having to grab ice packs and coffee and meds and this and that for my husband in his occasional illness. (Really? Now I have ANOTHER kid to care for?)

Today, I'm somewhat better at caring for all. I find myself rising to the occasion of being needed and necessary. As long as it doesn't go on forever.

Last week, I returned from holding and washing and sponging at my daughter's home to continue fetch-and-stepping in my own home with my dear husband. It felt fine. I felt fine. Until my tummy rumbled and I was flattened onto the couch (hopefully far enough away not to share the loveliness with my recovering husband in the other room).

I was miserable, yet focused on the recovery needed to return me to life as I love it.

Through one long night, my "nurse" clomped out on crutches every now and then to see if I was still breathing. Another "nurse" texted repeatedly, horrified that she had shared such an undesirable "gift" with me. Sweet "nurse" friends commented and encouraged and prayed on Facebook, entertaining me as I endured the night. (Thank you!)

Oh how important it is that the "bodies" of family and friends surround us when our physical bodies betray us! As we focus on the recovery needed to return to life as we love it.

To be sure, none of my family currently has terminal cancer or a traumatic brain injury or some other life-altering illness that defies recovery. No, the infirmities swirling around and in us are the normal stuff of body betrayal when we're interrupted from our familiar ways of independent living and forced to stop, to bend and receive the help of others.

Still, something about the process of body betrayal and body recovery, stitches lessons of how to nurse better when it's our turn. Because we've received, we know better how to give.

Today my husband continues his healing. My daughter and baby are back to normal. Me too. We helped each other through.

Wait. My daughter just texted that her older son is camped out by the toilet on his bathroom floor. Here we go again. Needing each other while we focus on the recovery needed to return to life as we love it. Faithful bodies helping physical bodies that betray.

Elisa Morgan's Mom to Mom: Confessions of a Mother Inferior honestly examines the challenges and joys of mothering, including the flu! Elisa's newest book, Hello, Beauty Full, is now available. Read it for your own growth, or share it in a group study. There are discussion questions and teaching videos available. Elisa is the cohost of Discover the Word and a regular speaker at events around the country.


© Elisa Morgan 2020

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