Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Quit Yer Bellyachin'

It actually sounds more like "Kwitcher belly-a-kin..." with the emphasis on each of those last syllables and a pause, pregnant with menace, at the end.

Is menace too strong a word?  Not really.  Not if you were the child with the problem and Daddooooo was the first responder.  Kvetching, the Yiddish catch-all for complaining, whining, whimpering, pouting behaviors, was unacceptable in my house.  The problem arose over what, exactly, constituted kvetching and what was a real complaint.

If the blood was flowing, you were allowed to holler.  You had to stand still while the damage was assessed and repaired, but a modicum of sniveling was permitted.  When I put my hand through the shed window in a futile attempt to dislodge the swollen door and put my bike away before it rained, I was 13 and much too old to cry.  I jumped up and down, my eyes rolled in their sockets, I yelled and screamed but I did not cry.  I was not bellyaching.  I was cut and bleeding and I needed stitches.... or that's what the pediatrician told G'ma as Daddooooo had my wrist over the kitchen sink, blocked from my view by his body, as he taped and bandaged my flesh together for the trip to the emergency room.

The surgeon was quite impressed with my dad's handiwork.  "Is he a doctor, your father?"  "Nope, he makes wedding dresses; seams are second nature to him."  That conversation was followed by an hour in the waiting room, while space was made to repair my small damage while larger problems were rushed in before me. 

The butcher who'd severed his thumb and was holding the digit in his other hand was seen before I was.

The old lady wheeled in on the stretcher, moaning and clutching her abdomen, received faster attention.

The boy throwing up as he walked in the door was whisked away before he could expose us to his germs.

I began to kvetch.  I wanted to know when I'd be seen and why it hurt so much and how come no one gave me any attention and finally Daddooooo had had enough and he turned to me and said, quietly, with a smile tinged with disapproval, "Aw, kwitcher belly-a-kin...." and I knew I'd be okay.  My pain didn't rise to the standard. It wasn't a real problem. It was belly-aching.  I stopped worrying about my hand falling off my arm.
I'm thinking about this today because I've been kvetching since I rolled out of bed this morning.  The muscles on my outer thigh are being recruited for the first time in a long time and they are not happy. 

Nope, not happy at all. 

The iliotibial tract and the tensor fasciae latae are spasming and seizing and clutching at one another for dear life which results in my leg deciding that any movement at all would be a very bad idea.  My brain says "GO!" and my leg says "NO!"  And so, I kvetch.

My kvetching worries TBG, so I try to keep it to a minimum when he's around.  He is hyper-vigilant regarding my recovery, and keeps his finger on the pulse of my aches and pains.  We've decided, with Becky the PT's agreement, that as long as the pains keep moving around we have nothing to fear.  We label them sensations instead of pains and, by assessing the threat value of the sensations I am, theoretically, able to move on.

That would be swell if it didn't hurt so damn much.

I see Daddooooo at moments like these, shaking his head because he knows I am better than that.  I can rise above the discomfort.  I don't have to annoy those around me with my noise, my belly-aching.  TBG's response is to get me to do squats or leg lifts or standing stretches with my arms overhead; he won't tell me to shut up, but it's hard to whine when you're exercising.  The men in my life are right, of course, but sometimes I need a little sympathy.

And that's where I was when I opened the paper this afternoon and saw this guy.

That's Matt Stutzman, who won a silver medal at the Paralympics in London over the weekend.

According to
USA TODAY, his other competitors, including the athlete who defeated him for gold on the final arrow, are in wheelchairs but have the use of their arms.

The picture itself stopped me in my tracks. My legs are both attached to my body and I'm just trying to get them to do what they are supposed to do. This athlete is missing his body parts, and is using his teeth in ways neither God nor nature intended. How does he do it?

USA Today tells me that he carefully places the arrow with his left foot, aims the bow with his extended right foot, contorts his body so he can pull back the cord with his teeth and releases.
I stopped kvetching at that moment.
Contorting my body.... carefully placing....these are things I can do.
So what if it hurts.
Matt says that his "goal was to inspire somebody, even if it was just one person, with my positive attitude......Never say never. If I can do this, with no arms, anything is possible."
Daddooooo is right; it's time for me to stop kvetching. 


  1. I think some kvetching is alright. But it sure does put it into perspective when we see someone like Matt achieving so much--even without the body parts we all take for granted. Thanks for sharing his story with the rest of us.

    Keep your chin up. :)

    Megan xxx

  2. I agree that some kvetching is normal - and you of all people have that right (IMO). But when I see a person like him, I feel very bad for ever mentioning an ache. Same as when my neighbor, who is wheelchair bound due to a failed hip replacement/femur breakage, tries to get out of her wheelchair and into a vehicle. That makes my hip and lower back pain seem very minimal. Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. Our pain is our own and our reactions are, too. We are entitled to them, whether they came from bullets or normal wear and tear. The kvetching, the whining, the "oh, poor me" is what I'm trying to use Matt to avoid. Today, when I put on my shoes with my hands I squelched the OUCH that always accompanies moving my right leg into position. If he can do it, so can I.

  4. Pain, schmain! May I recommend, as panacea, Mother's little helper, gin? A little lime and tonic doesn't hurt, either. Or as my friend in her 80's with terminal lung cancer would say when she winced with pain, "Well, I guess this beats the alternative". Here's to a comfortable day ahead. Cheers, m'dear!


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