Just what the doctor ordered

Over dinner last night, I barely stifled a complaint because the flatbread that I ordered came out looking very much like an ordinary pizza.  It looked lovely but I had expected something more like a delicate sheet of cracker with daintily applied morsels of delectable goodness.  I sighed and glanced at the waitress’s departing back.

My companion seemed amused, possibly because of his familiarity with this quest to live complaint-free.   I kept my mouth shut and focused on the deliciousness of the salad which had preceded the entree.  I tapped my foot.  I made a mild remark.  My companion asked if I wished to seek amends.  I demurred.  Do Not Complain.  The door knocker dangles from the knob of the closed door, swaying in the invisible current caused by the passing housekeeper.  I heed its admonishment.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, I tell myself.  Dinner proceeds.

At home I hobble up to the house and tell myself, You will not fall on these stairs.  I cast my purse down, let the dog in, grab a glass of water and bolt upstairs before I let myself collapse.  I ask myself if I expected dinner to be perfect because I skipped lunch to justify the calories.  I try to stretch, to make my body function, but a week or two of straining my capacity settles in my bones and punishes me for trying to live a normal life.

I scold myself:  Do not complain.  Do. Not. Complain.

I hammer out a half hour of work after dinner, feeling the knot in my left shoulder blade and the tension in the middle of my back where the damaged discs strain against the inflamed cysts.  When I finally sleep, my tortured dreams remind  me, no dairy at dinner, though I must concede that the “Four Cheese Flatbread” made a delectable pizza.  I had eaten three tiny slices and brought the rest home. But even the frail slivers of goat cheese and mild swathes of Fontina haunted me.  My come-uppance, I suppose.  Order flatbread; get pizza; suffer.  Should have stuck with the salad, maybe ordered the dinner size.  Grumble grumble grumble.

I awaken no less rested than yesterday; no less weary; no less sore.  I lie in the dark room and wonder if I’ve run my course.  I focus on the merest shimmer of light on the horizon and will myself to follow the sun’s example and pull myself into the morning.

Then I lift my phone to check the calendar, to measure how much time I have to convince myself to get out of bed, shower, dress, and catapult into the day.  An e-mail catches my eye, a note from Facebook telling me that someone has commented on one of my blog entries.  I read what my friend Genevieve has written:

You are an inspiration – I wish I knew someone like you when I was a teen or 20 something, sometimes not reaching high enough because I did not believe I could.

Of all the people who could have found my blog entry about survival to be inspiring, Genevieve ranks highest in my hidden hopes.  She’s beautiful, sweet, talented, and serene.  I watch her with her husband and admire the smoothness of their exchanges.  I tell myself:  If Genevieve looks to you for inspiration, you’d better not fail her.  I remind myself that worse days than yesterday have been conquered.   I hoist my crippled body out of bed and take the challenge.

Thank you, Genevieve.  You’re just what the doctor ordered.

It’s the thirteenth day of the twenty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


Genevieve McBrayer Casey



One thought on “Just what the doctor ordered

  1. Linda Overton

    I for one am very glad that your life continues. I also find your writings inspiring. You have a unique turn of phrase.


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