Life at Quarter Speed

On April 13, I came home from work and collapsed. I have not fully recovered. We are not certain what all is wrong with me, but it appears to be some sort of autoimmune response. The ER doctor said, “Nobody has that many things wrong without them having an autoimmune disorder.” I have an appointment with a rheumatologist this week.

When I see myself in the mirror, I feel a little scared. I have had a rash around my mouth and the skin is dry and scaling. I have lost nearly 30 pounds. I walk with a cane. A few days ago, the cane was a necessity just to move about. Now it is mostly for stability.

It is a little embarrassing to be seen in public when you look like “a tattered coat upon a stick” (Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium”). My appearances are brief and self-conscious.

Living life at quarter speed gives you time to think. I find myself thinking only of things that are genuinely important after catching a glimpse of the doorway to oblivion. Have you ever been in so much pain that you think to yourself, Is it my turn to get off the train?

I am deeply grateful for a determined wife who knows how to care for a sick person, even when he can be frustrating. I am also grateful for children who truly care about their father and know how to say “I love you” and mean it.

I am grateful to get my blood pressure back to normal. I am grateful to have lost a few pounds (well, more than a few), even if it was due to my newly discovered weight loss program. I’ll call it the “Cataclysm Diet.”

I am grateful for many thoughtful, concerned and generous friends. Thank you all for your kindness, service and prayers. I am thankful for my darling Primary kids who enjoyed playing with my cane during sharing time today and weren’t frightened to see me. (Sorry for the delay in our class party.)

I have been thinking of more ways to be kind to others, of doing more of the important things and less of the less important things. I have been thinking about how nice it will be to walk normally again, and about friends and loved ones who knew they would never walk again. I am grateful to have had my eyes opened.

I have been thinking of how God turns disasters into blessings, if only we are willing to exchange “beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:3).

I have been thinking that a snowstorm, even when it disturbs our dreams of springtime, is not as inconvenient as a tornado. I have been thinking about friends who drive by our house (I can see them out our master bedroom window) and wonder what it will be like to live at three-quarter speed, even half speed, again.

I am especially grateful for “Jesus Christ…who knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted [tried and tested]” (D&C 61:1).

7 thoughts on “Life at Quarter Speed

  1. Anonymous May 3, 2011 / 1:37 am

    Very grateful for your example. My own silly issues seem like nothing. I must learn to be more like you.


  2. Mike Fitzgerald May 3, 2011 / 4:43 am

    Anonymous, no one's issues are silly. They appear when we need them. They may seem trivial when we compare them with those of others, but they are no less important or monumental. Everyone is secretly having a really tough time. That is the divine design of life. Tough times make wise, grateful people, or bitter, small people. We can get bitter or we can get better. That's the simple option.


  3. Dawn May 3, 2011 / 8:13 pm

    Once or twice I have had that experience with pain and it's no fun. We are praying for you daily to not only stay on the train, but be the railroad owner. 🙂


  4. mspatina May 4, 2011 / 3:13 pm

    So sorry to hear that you are having a rough (understatement) time. You are in our thoughts and prayers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s