Let’s laugh a little today –at my expense, of course.
About eight months ago, my doctor prescribed massage therapy. I could barely walk, using a cane when I did, and was in tremendous pain, particularly in the joints from my hips down. At one point, my knees were swollen three times their normal size. Desperate to be mobile again, I worked with my health insurance case manager to find a licensed massage therapist covered by my insurance and decided to give it a shot.
The therapist was incredible, very knowledgable and thorough. Massage therapy is nothing like going to the spa and getting a relaxing massage. This was physical therapy, and in my fragile state, it was hard, brutal work. At first I rested on my back while he manipulated my ankles, knees and hips. I cringed and tried to focus on our conversation rather than the pain. The second half of the session I flipped onto my stomach as he continued to try to heal my body.
Now, I need to point out that I was on a lot of medicine, and the antibiotics, particularly, agitated my stomach. I’d gained about thirty pounds from the steroids, and on top of all that, I was severely bloated. Just two weeks earlier a little girl in Walmart actually touched my belly and asked if I had “a baby in there.” Seriously, that happened. I didn’t go out in public for a month afterward.
But back to the massage. I settled on my stomach and tried to relax, which is very difficult when you’re in your skivvies and feeling as un-sexy as possible. He’d finished with my legs and was working toward my hips. We continued to chat, discussing everything from Lyme disease to parenting.
And then it happened.
He pushed just above my tailbone, and to my utter horror, my body expelled the loudest explosion of gas. Think of the Die Hard movies and pick any car, bus or plane explosion. Now put that explosion in a tiny room with no windows and a serious echo.
I swear it was the Fart Heard Round the World.
Not only was it deafening, but it was LONG. It lasted, or at least it felt like it lasted, for at least twenty agonizing, awkward seconds.
I wanted to disappear, but was grateful my face was directed toward the floor and not my therapist. Of course, he was probably wishing my front had been facing him rather than my obnoxious derriere, especially since his hands were still on my rear.
Conversation paused, and then God bless him, that man just continued talking as if nothing had happened, as if he hadn’t just detonated a bomb. I had fifteen more minutes of therapy, which gave me a little time, face down, to recover. Still, I couldn’t look him in the eye afterward, and I do recall leaving him a generous tip. He certainly deserved it.
If I hadn’t been so desperate to walk without pain, I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to face him again, but I did. I had twenty massage sessions over the next few months, and every time his hands came near my tailbone, I willed my body not to betray me. Thankfully, it didn’t, and thankfully, we never spoke of the incident.
And here’s the thing. In retrospect, it was hilarious, and unbeknownst to me, it was life-changing in multiple ways.
After a few weeks, I was able to walk in and out of his office without my cane. Within a few months, I no longer needed massage therapy because I was doing so well. He gave me back my mobility.
And an even bigger result of these sessions wasn’t even about me. My son’s girlfriend Casey drove me to an appointment and stayed in the room while I endured my massage. The experience completely changed her path in life. She was immediately drawn to the idea of becoming a massage therapist. We scheduled a tour of the local college with a massage therapy program, where my therapist happened to be an instructor. He showed her around the school, introduced her to the admissions director, and talked with her about the pros and cons of the career.
Casey saw firsthand how massage therapy changed my life, giving me back my mobility and decreasing my pain. She wound up applying to that school, getting accepted, and is currently doing beautifully in the program.
Isn’t it funny how things work out?
A couple months ago, two dear friends showed up unexpectedly at my house. I was depressed beyond words and had come to the conclusion that I would never get better. These two appeared to cheer me up. Well, one is more of a “suck it up” kind of friend, but they both had the same intention –to get me out of the dark place in which I was stuck.
I will never forget that evening. My friend, who has had more than her share of hardship and unfairness over the last few years, talked openly and honestly about the hard stuff. We talked about why God allows horrible things to happen, something I was really struggling with. She said it’s okay to be mad at God. He’s not easily offended. Be angry. Yell, cry, whatever it takes, but don’t stop talking to him about it. We aren’t meant to understand, so our confusion and anger are human. All children get upset with their parents, right?
Then she said something that resonated deeply. Sometimes things happen to us that have nothing to do with us. Sometimes God uses us to change someone or something else.
Sometimes we are simply the medium for someone else’s message.
Oh, wow. So maybe I have Lyme disease and it has nothing to do with me?
Maybe it’s to influence my children’s paths. Maybe Izzi will become a nurse because she spent a year nurturing her sick momma. Maybe Phillip will go into research and discover the cure for Lyme disease. Maybe moms all over the world who read my blog will be more vigilant, protecting their children from ticks because I taught them how.
And maybe Casey’s life will be completely different because she accompanied me to a massage therapy session and decided she, too, wanted to help people that way.
Maybe I’ll be able to look back someday and say, “Okay, Father, I see what you did there. I get it.”
But for now, I just keep pushing forward, trying to find the good, and accepting that sometimes farts happen.
(Thank you to Shirley McClurg for sharing the feature image for today’s post. It’s perfect!)