Savoring Perfect Health

One of the many things I love about babies is how perfect they are. Those tiny perfect feet with even tinier perfect toes. Perfect knees. Perfect ears. No scars or swollen joints. No limits to their healthy limbs.

I get the same joy out of watching small children play. Their joints are so flexible and they can roll and flip with a smile. They don’t worry about aches and pains. They act as if they are indestructible, because they are!

I’ve had RA so long I cannot remember feeling like that. As a child I remember being stiff and slow, with aching bones that kept me awake at night. But I can appreciate good health in others. In fact, I experience great pleasure in seeing other people enjoying their healthy bodies.

The truth is that no one is truly perfectly healthy. We’ve all got some issue—like dry skin, nearsightedness, or an autoimmune disease. But I know that my health problems are more serious than the average person’s.

With the limits that I feel on my mobility and health, I really savor seeing the seemingly healthy folks out there. I love spending time with babies and small children. Not only are their joints wonderfully flexible and strong, they have tons of energy. Oh to have all that energy! It’s such a pleasure to visit with my nieces and nephew, play games and joke around with them. While I’m exhausted afterwards, I always come away with a belly sore from laughing and a big smile on my face.

I can understand how it may be hard when you’re sick to be around well people. At times I am frustrated with how I feel compared to others. I am fighting to keep up in so many ways. But if I flip my thinking I can also enjoy others’ health and appreciate that different experience.

Previously, I went to an excellent yoga class that helped me to appreciate health in a different way. Just about everyone in the class used an adaptation of some kind. I did a lot of poses from a chair or would take breaks during the standing poses. Other people used props such as blankets and blocks to protect different joints or make the poses a little easier. Even with my RA, one or two of the stretches were in my wheelhouse and I could do them fairly easily. Surprisingly to me, these same poses may have challenged some of the ‘healthier’ students.

The lesson to me was that every body is different, even seemingly perfectly healthy ones. I experience pain and stiffness from RA. I also have visibly damaged joints. But perhaps I am not so different from other people when remembering that our bodies come with conditions and limitations.

It makes me think of my mother who has lung damage that affects her breathing. She can climb stairs, take walks, cook gourmet meals, and clean the house—all things I cannot or have trouble doing. However, she needs oxygen support. I have an easier time breathing, but my joints cannot do all the physical activities she accomplishes in a day.

Perhaps perfect health is a myth. But I do appreciate and am glad for other people’s abilities and physical gifts, even if I sometimes wish my body was a little more cooperative. While we may all have issues to manage, I think we can be glad to witness health and happiness wherever we can find it.

I continue to admire health in others, and hope that this rubs off so that people can appreciate their natural gifts.

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