Do-able Things

The sling holding up my left arm in November 2018 is etched in my mind. Sadly, I endured rotator cuff surgery. The surgeon had performed his magic on October 10. Then the next couple of weeks I faced  the reality of the duel between pain and pain meds. In early November my complaint “I can’t do anything!” became the daily irritant to my otherwise nearly unflappable wife! Slowly the consistent low level ache and pain replaced the newness of “My arm is in a sling!”. My inability to do the most mundane tasks created a sense of uselessness in me. Therefore the imaginary “to-do” list of yard tasks from September (pre-surgery) loomed larger and larger, ever gaining in importance in my mind.

What CAN I do?

SO I set about finding things that I COULD accomplish! Simple things that would afford me a sense of accomplishment. Something I could say, “Honey, look what I did,” without fear of my wife chastising me for overstepping my level of healing. I created a ‘shower brace’ for my left arm on my first incursion into the garage to ‘work’ . Something that I could wear in the shower with my arm supported. What the surgeon had recommended was a ‘remodeled’ pool noodle. My engineering mind went to work and out came a ‘pool noodle arm sling”! (My wife reminded me, as I read this to her that I actually made the noodle brace October 12. Evidently my sense of needing to be useful kicked in way earlier than I had thought!) For the next few months I continued to seek those Do-able Things.

You can always do something!

Whenever you find yourself incapacitated, or diminished in capacity in one way or another, in all likelihood you can still do something. Your new task, in that moment, is to look for the “Do-able Thing” that is waiting for you. You can do things, almost always. For the four weeks I could not drive (imagine – 4 weeks!) I was still able to input the address into the GPS in the car. I could still place the dishes in the dishwasher (sadly), though I was not able to wash of the ‘hand-washables’!

Do you feel useless at times? Incapacitated?

When the times of ‘stinking thinking’ come upon you and you feel like you don’t have the ‘value’ you used to feel you had… Take inventory! Where do you feel that you are less useful than you would like? What are those places where you feel incapacitated? If that sense of uselessness begins to rear its head, look around for those Do-able Things that can help you regain the sense of usefulness. You will be surprised how much little things matter! It didn’t take long before my wife was thanking me for a bunch of little things she thought she would never see completed! Beyond the sense of value that you personally receive from accomplishing those little things, those around you will appreciate that you are not ‘letting your sling talk for you!’

Change your perspective and your attitude – you’ll change your results!

Another perk for you personally is that you will develop a keener eye to those things going on around you. Those little nuances that may have escaped your notice before … or that you always noticed but didn’t say anything about will rise to the surface. Now you can move smoothly in and pick up the one napkin that flew off the tray as your wife walked by on the way to the picnic table. Or you can find some other equally small but noticeable thing that does matter, something that you could have practically ignored.  One of the things a kids will say is “I can’t do that.” (or I don’t think I can do that.) Ask yourself, “alright, then, what CAN I do?” Or, “why not give it a try, just this one time.”

Think about it!

Take the time to take a look around you. What is that Do-able thing that you have not tried to do yet? If you look carefully, you will find that you can accomplish a lot of undone, but very do-able things. Things you can step up and make happen. Perhaps at work you can ease other’s loads, or find those ‘undone-and-my-spouse-thinks-it-will-NEVER-be-done’ items and become a hero! Don’t wait for a sling or worse – surgery, to open your eyes. You’ll feel better. And those around you will be glad you stepped up!


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