Sonika | Santa Monica
Photo by Andre Sebastian / Unsplash

My body is up on blocks in the shop these days. It's a fine thing to have angels all around me.

For whatever reason, 2022 has so far been the year of surgeries, arthritis and more surgeries, and the wholesale overhaul of key body parts. Because they are all on the left side, or at least mostly, I am pretty convinced that a lot of this was from a wicked accident on July 29th 2020 when an errant kidney stone led me to flip my car at 65 mph outside Twin Falls. I landed hard on the driver's side. At the time, I thought all I did was leave most of the middle knuckle of the middle finger of my left hand on the asphalt.

Apparently there was much more.

I won't go into detail. Let's just say I have my forearms full, because my hands don't work so well right now. The left in particular. Oh and to add to that, a left foot that has developed arthritis on the top. The car accident was likely a final straw after so many horses stood on my tootsies.

I'm up on blocks in the repair shop at the moment. It's going to be quite the adventure to figure out how to work out while body parts are in repair. I'm up for it. It's just life.

Since I am shy a bevy of handsome males as my servants, this I gotta handle solo. With hands that currently hurt so much from CMC arthritis, a shoulder that is undergoing PT and is, well, barking, and one of my dogs which is, well, barking, let's just say that minor maintenance this year turned into a full-fledged overhaul.

A Day of Angels

Today I was on the phone with Gerbing, which makes warming products largely for motorcycle enthusiasts. Folks who head out into winter on their Harleys, which means deep wind chill. They make battery-operated gloves, which I now have to wear every day from about midday on, at least until such time as I can get surgery. That of course is months off.

Meanwhile I've tried splints, wraps, paraffin, lidocaine patches, creams, CBD products, ice, more heat, wrist splints, painkillers. I can't use anti-inflammatory meds. When the cortisone quit working I ran out of options.

So, battery-operated gloves, which I already had because of my adventure travel. But they were shorting, and burning the backs of my hands. I'd called for help and was told to send them in. That was barely a few days ago.

Margot from Gerbing called me early this morning. The gloves had shorted, and burned holes right through the fabric. Which was why a) they weren't working very well and b) they kinda hurt.

Okay, they hurt a lot.

They're sending me a brand new pair. I was anticipating a big repair bill.

A brand new pair, no charge, no questions asked. That just saved me $350.00. Because they're including a brand-new set of batteries, worth another $100. That's going to get them one hell of a review.

Margot was the first angel of my day.

My physical therapist, Amy, took me into her office at three pm. This was for shoulder work. By that time my left hand in particular hurt so much I was nearly in tears. Amy kept me working, talking and focused on my shoulder for an hour. She massaged the gristle in my scapula, made me laugh, stretched, pushed and pulled, and by the end of my time, I had almost forgotten the pain.

I got plenty of range of motion back. The laughter helped a lot.

Amy was my second angel.

Since I wake up super early, by four pm my face is nearly in the soup. But I needed groceries. By the time I got to my local Fred Meyer, my left hand was shrieking at full volume again, and my shoulder, having been well-worked, was also speaking to me in Icelandic. I wandered through the store with my left hand in a big fat black glove held out like a clumsy mitt, gathering things that take two hands.

Like trying to bag lettuce.

Another angel, a man in his sixties, walked up next to me, wrapped a bag around my Romaine, and grinned at me from behind his mask when I thanked him profusely.

He was my third angel.

At the self-checkout, I had two bags, one of them a lot heavier than expected. I fumbled around for half a second trying to figure what to do with my big fat mitt when a very large man right behind me reached around and lifted that bad boy for me into my cart.

He was my fourth angel. I thanked him with all my heart.

What the hey?

As I walked out the front door into the forty-degree fog towards my car, tired and in one hell of a lot of pain, I was pulling my cart one-handed across the crosswalk. Right when I reached the middle a woman behind me yelled at me to stop.

My Daytimer, with every single bit of my daily life crammed in it, had fallen out of the cart and spilled all over the damp pavement. Instantly she was on the ground with me helping me pick it all up.

I thanked her profusely too. My fifth angel.

I unloaded my stuff carefully, got in my car, and wept.

But that wasn’t all. I had gotten an intensely sweet, kind text from a phone number I didn’t recognize. Someone had just turned 55, gone skiing, lost their dad and wept with gratitude for the people in their life. They had sent me a song from Wicked in thanks. I had no idea who it was.

Embarrassed, I texted that person back. When I checked my phone, it turned out to be a fellow military vet whose life was transformed by being in a women’s group of mine twenty years ago. She’s gone on to pay it forward a thousand times over, changing lives and making a huge difference with her books and coaching. Being other people's angel.

She had reached out to be to thank me for being her angel many years ago.

My sixth angel, thanking me for being hers.

Now I was really crying, that snotty, butt-ugly weepy shit.

Not in pain, but in gratitude.

Each day I see so many articles from people so pissed off about what they are owed.

This morning I read an article by a fellow veteran which was a huge pity party rant about how awful his wife is. And her mother. It was embarrassing to read.

Medium is full of that, just like so much of social media. Poor me, I'm owed, so much anger and hate and resentment and jealously and bitterness.

I'm foolish enough to believe that letting people into traffic, opening doors, donating money to people in need, saying thank you, leaving plenty of positive reviews, buying fresh sourdough bread for your neighbor who checks in on you after surgery should be part of life.

Just part of life.

Most of us, too many of us, believe in a quid pro quo.  In other words, I won't do anything unless I get something, usually something better, in return.

I don't.

Photo by Julia Kadel / Unsplash

The way I feel about it, it's my job to be someone else's angel first.

Most times people say thanks, or they wave or smile. Sometimes not. If I hold a tit for tat attitude about every single kind gesture I offer, I will end up bitter and angry.

I am owed nothing. Not a damned thing. However I honestly believe that my intentions matter.

Today I just wanted to get home, get a heating element on my hands, and weep. My hands hurt that much. It's going to be that way for a while. These things happen, and with the delays Omicron caused and all the demands on our medical community, quick relief isn't possible.

I'm going to have to sit with this pain, like people with chronic conditions do, and find ways to manage it. It's a process.

What I did get was a day full of kindness. Random acts. Six people who did very different things for me, three of them completely random strangers in a grocery store.

You think random acts of kindness is a meme, a joke?

I disagree.

Every so often I am reminded that kind people are absolutely everywhere. All shapes, sizes, colors, backgrounds, cultures, genders. As much as headlines and angry articles tell a different story, I disagree.

I believe that people really want to do good things for each other. That these so-called random acts of kindness are indeed inherent in all of us. We need to know we can be kind. We need to be able to add value to someone who needs a hand.

You and I need to be vulnerable enough to allow others to be kind.

My Tuesday was full of angels. I don't know who those people were, other than Margot, Amy and my veteran friend. All I know is that they showed up for me. I will get relief-giving gloves, brand new ones.

I get care that really helps relieve my pain and gives me my shoulder back. The sooner that happens the sooner we can fix my hand.

And three folks helped make it through the store and to my car by caring enough to notice I needed a bit of assistance.

This is a year, or at least a part of it, up on blocks. We have times like that. And when we do, it's a fine thing to let others be kind to us.

It's just life.

So are angels.

Let's be angels for each other.

Gleaming light ✨
Photo by Sir Manuel / Unsplash