My Back Pain, My Blessing

I am sitting at the kitchen table, looking down at my cell phone, watching the tears raining onto its screen. The e-mail that I’ve just read is still displayed on it:

Good afternoon.
I’ve attached a photo of the medicine.
Hope it helps you.
Wishing you health.

The attachment shows an up-close photo of an ointment. “Numbs away pain,” the labels says in big letters.

  • Desensitizes aggravated nerves
  • Fast acting and penetrating
  • Non-irritating

I have been having lower back pain for three weeks now. It began as a mild discomfort and very gradually grew into excruciating, non-stop spasms, shooting through the whole leg on that side all the way into the foot, which made standing, walking, sitting, driving – basically anything besides lying down – impossible.

At the beginning of this week things got progressively worse, but I managed to get myself to the office on time. Shortly the pain got so bad that I had to close the door to my office because I didn’t want anyone to see that I was crying. There was no position that I could get into that would make the spasms go away, and the latter now felt like electric shocks running through my whole body every second.

I lay down on the carpeted floor – the only position in which I felt some relief – and began making phone calls, looking for a substitute teacher who could teach my classes that day. I managed to find one teacher to help out later in the day, but the first class had to be canceled. I sent the students a short e-mail, quoting a medical emergency, and got myself home, to bed.

When I got home, I saw that a student in the canceled class had already responded to my e-mail. She was asking if I was OK and whether I needed any help with anything.

Later that night, the substitute teacher sent me an e-mail, expressing her own concern and saying that the students were worried and upset about my absence.

Several work-related and free-time engagements this week had to be canceled and everyone seemed to be sincerely concerned, offering me different ideas for relieving pain.

For the last several days, I’ve been waking up to more e-mails, text messages and social media posts. Friends, colleagues, students, acquaintances and even people I have never met personally. Messages of concern, good wishes, various advice, doctor information, medicine names and LOTS AND LOTS OF LOVE! The outpouring of love has been truly overwhelming!

When I returned to class later this week, everyone was asking me how I was doing and what had happened to me. One student surprised and moved me to tears by bringing his violin to our language class and asking if he could play some music to help my back heal faster. Lost for words and feeling emotional, I just nodded yes. He played three beautiful pieces before we had our lesson.

On the way out of that classroom, all students were suggesting the medicine and tricks that had helped them or people they knew. “It is really, really good. Try it! If you can’t find this cream, just e-mail me and I’ll bring some for you next time,” one student said to me before parting. Another student told me what had helped his mom when she had back trouble in the past.

One of these days, I stopped by my yoga studio to explain why I hadn’t been able to come to classes lately. One of my teachers gifted me with a sample of some balm to try on my back, and another student who happened to be in the room and overheard our conversation, came up to me and gave me the longest and most intentional hug I have ever received in my life. He was “sharing his good energy with me and healing my body,” he explained.

And then there was this very concise e-mail:

Good afternoon.
I’ve attached a photo of the medicine.
Hope it helps you.
Wishing you health.

It came from another student, an older gentleman, who helped me carry heavy bags to my car and also mentioned the cream that had helped his own back pain once. Then he went home, remembered about me the following day, took a photo of the medicine container and e-mailed it to me… This was the last drop that cracked me wide open by making me realize just HOW MUCH love I had received, HOW MUCH love was out there in this “scary and dangerous” world of ours…

You know all that “evidence” that other people are mean, cruel, selfish and egotistical? You know all those examples that mass media love to present to us as “proof” of that? Well, that is NOT our True Selves! Yes, people do all those things – I’m not saying that it’s made up, – but that is NOT our True Selves! That is NOT who we truly are. THIS is!

When we see someone in distress, someone in pain, someone suffering, and immediately drop all our pretenses; when our first impulse is to become absolutely ignorant of our ethnicities, gender, nationalities, age, marital status, life experiences and all other roles that we play in our lives; when we forget about our stories and simply become PURE LOVE, THIS is when we are being our True Selves!

When stripped down to our Cores by situations that quiet our minds, we all instinctively want to help, to save, to love, to ease the pain of fellow living beings. We’ve seen this again and again at the time of national disasters, when everyone stops complaining about the government, bad customer service or bad drivers and just pulls together and acts as one, donating money, taking people and animals into their homes, traveling to the places of destruction and helping people rebuild their lives.

And it comes so natural to us! It comes as an instinct, when we don’t even have to think about it twice – we just spring into action, because LOVE is what we are made of, it is our True Essence, it is what we ARE behind all the made-up barriers with which we like to separate ourselves from others.

I knew this already intellectually, of course, but being shown so clearly, having it demonstrated to me so personally and so undeniably, has definitely been one of the most precious gifts that I have received in this life, and I have my illness to thank for that.

Thank you, my dear back pain! I love you and I am deeply grateful for all the learning that you’ve brought with you into my life!

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