Do you remember the little adage: I complained I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet? I had one of those moments the other day.
I’ve been having a little debate with myself about the medication I’m on. Dr P says his aim is to keep me healthy for as long as possible. So far, so good. But, the drugs I’m injesting make me feel chronically tired all the time, yet I have trouble sleeping. (Even more so than usual, and I’ve never been very good at it.) I often feel nauseous and occasionally the other end behaves in a loose and violent manner. I either have a raging appetite or the smell of certain foods puts me right off. (I have a very confused stomach.) My joints ache. The tendinitis is raging. I get horrible headaches. So, I ask myself: Is this really what they mean by, “healthy”?
I’ve been wondering whether it’s worthwhile taking all this stuff, when I know that it can’t and won’t produce a cure. Should I consider going for quality rather than quantity, especially when – without the pills – I can still count on a reasonable amount of quantity?
Then I think: actually, even before the pills, I had more quantity than quality. Let’s face it, it’s not as if I was competing in triathlons; or planning a trip to the Greek islands; or spending my Saturdays hiking through the forest. I’ve not been a very active person for years and years. (Okay, decades and decades.) I don’t have a good-paying job. This financial year I earned enough that I only need about another $14,000 before I have to start paying taxes! So, we’ve always been limited in where and when we have a holiday; how many times we go to concerts (one every ten years or so), or go to the movies etc etc.
Then the “no shoes/no feet” moment arrived. I saw a documentary about a pair of conjoined twins in a little rural town in India. Some Australian doctors, all specialists in their fields, agreed to perform the operation there (for free), instead of in Australia. The hospital was poorly resourced; flies were making merry in the operating theatre; conditions were basic at best. However, the staff were dedicated and determined. Unfortunately, one of the little girls didn’t survive. So very, very sad.
Those people had almost nothing. Here in Australia we have a wonderful health system that is available to everyone. Okay, you might have to wait a while if you don’t have private insurance, but if you have a life-threatening condition you are seen straight away. What is more, you are given the best treatment and care that is humanly possible. In other words: I have shoes when other people don’t have feet.
I also realised that I do have quality of life. I have a home, a family, friends, freedom to worship who I like and freedom to criticise the government if they deserve it. I can go to the shops, walk the streets (or, in my case, drive the streets) without fear of being shot, blown up or hacked with machetes. I have books to read, a television to watch, Rex the Wonder Dog who adores me, and there are cafes and hotels nearby that provide delicious coffee and meals at very reasonable prices. I live in one of the top five “most liveable” cities in the world.
What is more my husband supports me as I fulfill a life-long dream of being a writer. He doesn’t throw the lack of money in my face, even though I’m sure there are days when he’s tempted. He encourages me to persevere in spite of the knockbacks. He believes in me.
Yeah…I’ve got quality and I’ve still got a reasonable amount of quantity. I’ve already had a life-time more than the little twin who died. So… a big slap to the back of my head and stern words to myself: Stop grizzling and get on with living, old girl!
Don’t forget: You got shoes!