I am the first person to say one of my less attractive personality I have is that I am very good at feeling bad for myself. It is hard to help it when I have been dealt some bad hands this past year, but last Friday I saw firsthand that it can always be worse.
Every Friday I have meetings with my GI therapist at Boston Children’s Hospital. When I got to the hospital I went into the bathroom and used the only open stall which happened to be the handicapped stall. After a minute I heard a knock on the stall door, and after two minutes I left the stall. I opened the door and a mom and her 6-year-old, wheelchair bound son were waiting for the stall. I felt so bad and apologized many times. The mom was very cool about the situation and said it wasn’t a problem. I asked her if there was anything I could do and to my surprise she said yes. She asked me if I could watch her son while she used the restroom and of course I said yes.
He had a mental disability so having a conversation was difficult but not impossible. He had balloons on his wheel chair and part of his head was shaved. The mom told me they were leaving the hospital 6 days after his brain tumor surgery. I asked him simple questions about upcoming Halloween and some of the characters on his balloons. This little boy was so happy with an incredibly positive spirit. He was smiling, clapping, and jumping in his wheelchair. After his mom was ready for them to leave, she thanked me and told me that they had to catch their bus to go back home to Vermont. Before they left, the little boy asked me for a hug. Of course I agreed and then left the bathroom humbled.
How could I feel badly for my stomach condition when this little boy is so happy and upbeat while battling a terminal illness? How could I complain about having to get up early to go to the doctor, while this mom is trying to handle a sick child and getting him too and from his home in Vermont to the hospital in Boston? I felt so guilty for crying about my situation and for feeling bad for myself.
That night when I went to synagogue I did not pray for myself. I did not ask G-d for my emotional and physical healing even though obviously I would like to get better. I prayed to G-d for that little boy that I met in the bathroom earlier that day. I asked G-d to give him strength. I asked G-d to give his mother strength. I asked G-d to take away his illness and to help him have a long and happy life.
When laying down with agonizing stabbing pain in your stomach, crying from loneliness and depression, and staying awake at night because the medicine has worn off, it is really hard to think that people have it worse than you. That there is no way possible that anyone else could be feeling worse than you at this moment. That day however I saw first hand how things can always be worse. No matter how bad your life is, there is unfortunately always someone out there in more pain and that is more sick then you.
Obviously I am not grateful that I have IBS. If I could choose not to have it, I absolutely would. I am grateful though that I only have IBS. I am thankful that I do not have a fatal illness, or an illness that causes more pain then IBS. I am also thankful that I met that little boy from Vermont in the bathroom that day.
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