When our five-year-old granddaughter Melissa came over to play a few weeks ago she asked, “Grandma, how old are you and Papa?”
I said, “How old do you think we are?”
She replied, “Twenty-five.” (That’s as high as she can count.)
When I told her our actual ages, she said, “Grandma, when you’re as old as Papa, will you have to take as many naps as he takes now?”
I said, “Melissa, Papa doesn’t take naps because he’s old. He has a lot of pain in his back and he has to rest often because when he hurts all of the time it makes him feel tired.” I went on to say, “Do you remember how your head felt when you smacked it on the corner of the counter?” She nodded, and I said, “That’s how Papa’s back feels most of the time.”
She looked at Alex with such tenderness and said, “I’m sorry, Papa.”
Alex said, “It’s okay, Melissa. It doesn’t stop me from having fun with you.”
She patted his shoulder, gave him a sweet kiss on the cheek and went back to playing.
Chronic pain isn’t easy for the person who suffers with it, and it’s not easy for the people who love them. Some days are better than others. When Alex is having one of those “other” days and he’s not especially enthusiastic, energetic or positive, it’s a pain for both of us.
I’m a fixer, and I’ve had a hard time accepting that this is a situation for which there is no solution. I decided last night I need to be a little more childlike in the way I deal with it. Melissa didn’t rag Alex about doing his exercises. She didn’t ask if he’d taken a pain pill, and she didn’t say every five minutes, “How are you feeling now?” She just showed a little affection and empathy and went on about her business.