It is April 2000. I am shuffling along the hallway on the 14th Floor of Mt. Sinai hospital in Toronto. I am pushing my pain pump with my right hand and a pole, with a couple of bags of this and that hanging from it, with my left hand. Shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle. I am in the South ward of the gastro intestinal surgical ward recovering from surgery for colorectal cancer. Others are recovering from surgery for Crohns or Ulcerative Colitis. We will be in the hospital for about 10 days after surgery. Shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle. I make it to the North ward. These patients are here for longer. A month. Maybe more, recovering from their surgeries. I get to the end of the hallway and ease myself down onto a chair. I congratulate myself for possibly having set a new speed record for the South Ward to North Ward shuffle. Truly. As I sat there recovering this is what I said to myself: “I look forward to the day when the only thing wrong with me is a really bad hang nail.”
Six weeks later I asked my surgeon when I could start to ride again. “Oh anytime,” he cheerily replied. I asked him if he had ever ridden a horse. “I think I did when I was in camp when I was about 10,” was his answer. Why did I feel he was not a riding expert? Because they had opened me up like a tin of sardines and one of the incisions was what I would be sitting on when riding. But he had given me the all clear so ….no worries. I got a sheepskin pad to cover the saddle and mounted up.
I was alive. I was riding. All was well with the world and I gave thanks.
I do not have a really bad hang nail but I do have arthritis in my thumb. It is annoying. What a joy to have an annoying little affliction. It does not affect my ability to ride in any way. I can hold the reins, even with a double bridle, no problem.
I am telling you this because in life we pass through some very difficult times and it can be hard to see the future. Sometimes it is almost impossible. People say to us: “You’ve got to think positive.” They said that to me all the time. I wanted to tell them to Shut Up. But they meant well. There are times when it is very hard to “think positive”.
If you, or anyone you know, is in one of those dark times try to hold onto the thread of hope. Hope is what kept me going. Hope. Hope that I would live to be annoyed by a bad hangnail or arthritis in my thumb.
Hang on to that slender thread of hope.