michelle nicole photography

michelle nicole photography

Today, as I sit at Command Central,( AKA the recliner), wrapped in a warm chenille blanket and surrounded by requisite devices like the television remote, Dell tablet and cell phone; I reflect on my day that began at 2am.

I’m not sure if it was the sound of the wind swirling around the house or the pain it whipped up that woke me, but as I lay in the darkness I was overwhelmed with gratitude thinking about how blessed I am, that I hurt. I am not delusional from lack of sleep or medication. Simply stated, I hurt; therefore, I AM ALIVE! I have the privilege of experiencing another day on the top side of the frozen Pennsylvania tundra!

I ached ALL over. Dealing with yet another winter weather event over last 36 hours has been rough for me and I’m sure others like me who suffer from chronic pain. As cold fronts move in, so does that unrelenting ache presumably from the changing barometric pressure. There was a time in my life when pain was my constant companion, not an occasional foul weather friend. However, thanks to the amazing MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY that created devices like the Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted in my body, I am better able to control my relationship with pain and its unwelcome visits.

I turn over seeking a more comfortable position in the beautiful, canopied Princess Bed where Tom, Sparky and I retire for our beauty sleep. Drawing my legs up to snuggle a soft blanket brings a stab of pain to my low back. The dichotomy of sensations reminds me that I CAN FEEL! There were times over the last two decades when parts of my body would call out of work for varying lengths of time refusing to acknowledge sensory participation with the rest of the staff. Some have never returned, fortunately these were not mandatory employees.

My restlessness awakens the ball of fur sharing my pillow. Little murphs and rhythmic purring remind me that I CAN HEAR! Continued sleep evades me so I relent, sit up and check the time on the bedside alarm clock that glows a soft red. 2am becomes clearer the more I squint, the blessings continue. I may not have 20/13 vision like my eagle-eyed husband, but I CAN SEE!

I grab my SCS controller, gather up Sparky and head for the stairs. The couch is calling, its texture offering relief of dysesthesia resulting from a peripheral nerve injury.  As I slowly and carefully descend the dark stairwell, I say a quick prayer of thanks: I CAN WALK unassisted!  My collection of ambulation assisting devices is collecting dust in a corner of the basement hopefully banished for all eternity.

The pellet stove in the family room is glowing; beautiful orange warmth emanating from its black belly. We have HEAT and SHELTER.  We are very lucky, as so many people in our county and in those counties surrounding us have lost heat and electricity from downed, ice-laden trees requiring them to seek emergency lodging. I head to the powder room; INDOOR PLUMBING, glorious! I could not imagine having to bundle up and trek out into the cold when natured called, many thanks Thomas Crapper!

I take some non-narcotic, oral medication and arrange pillows and throws on my makeshift bed, the couch. Thank you, Lord that I do not contend with addictions to medication for pain relief. Throughout the years that I been treated for chronic pain, I watched many people struggle to get that ferocious monkey off their backs. Sparky waits patiently for me to lie down and curls close to my side, finally I am comfortable and together we fall into a blissful sleep.

I smell coffee; I CAN SMELL coffee brewing! Tom is awake and preparing for his day at work. He lovingly makes my morning libation and his breakfast. The smell of his toast browning makes my stomach growl. I think I’ll have some oatmeal; what a blessing it is to never be HUNGRY!  Thus, another day begins in the Hartlove household. This is our routine, the daily grind, time to make the donuts, we owe, we owe it’s off to work he goes, whatever the idiom de jour; thank you Jesus, TOM HAS A JOB!

On February 2nd, our favorite furry prognosticator determined we would be enjoying winter for six more weeks, wonderful!  That, coupled with weather reports of  three more winter weather events in the next five days may send some of you dear readers over the edge and in search of a warmer climate but I would like to challenge you: find the BLESSINGS in each moment of TODAY. Take a carefully placed step with your spiked snowshoes in the right direction. Despite the cold and inconveniences of the continued inclement weather, venture out beyond the snow, ice and road salt to a place where the warmth of a summer’s day waits to comfort you; GRATITUDE is calling, can you hear it?