Taken for Granted

img519We take things for granted every day – the sun will come up, the air will be safe to breathe, we will be able to breathe. It is only when we experience sudden, out of our control change that assuming anything or taking things for granted seems so stupid. With a world filled with danger and uncertainty it is ironic that any of us can take anything for granted, but we do.

I mentioned in a post last week that R.J. went and gave himself poison ivy to prove to me once and for all that it is in our back yard. He probably had the worst allergic reaction to it I have ever seen. Both of his arms swelled up from his finger tips to up past his elbows (think Pop Eye or the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man) and his torso became a flaming red mass from his navel to his armpits. There was one point where I thought I would have to feed because he couldn’t bring a fork to his mouth.

And of course I laughed at every meal.

So, yeah, I would say it was bad. And of course he refused to go see anyone about it. I finally took the bull by the horns and made the appointment for him, though, and drove him to the clinic since by that time he was lost in a haze of pain and itching.

Turns out he had a secondary infection along with the poison ivy rash…

That was two days ago, and I’m happy to say the swelling has gone down and he can feed himself normally again. He’s got a way to go, but at least now he’ll get there.

I only mention this story because I was able to spend some time around sick people while I was waiting. And observing people who are sick or hurting is a good way to understand the human condition because illness and/or pain strips away the veneers people put up to hide from the world. When we’re in pain we don’t really care what other people think and act accordingly.

So I’m observing these strangers and their interactions with others, not really listening to the specifics of their conversations, but noting that some of these people are pharmacy regulars. They are on so many medications all of the people at the pharmacy know them. By that time I realized how uncommon it must be for me not to need take a pill regularly for one ailment or another.

I’m sure there are others out there who are healthy and whole, but we are in a minority. I don’t have statistics, but judging by the amount of commercials and print ads I see I’m sure the pharmacology industry is bigger than ever.

There’s a pill for everything now.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t take medicine if we’re sick or in pain – sometimes that’s the only way. But what happens when the pills quit working? Or the side effects of those pills cause worse symptoms than the original ailment? What happens when the crutches we’re given crumble and we have to face the inevitable truth of our condition alone?

We can’t take anything for granted. The uncertainty of life demands we take note of every breath because it may be our last.

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