Necessary Courage

batLast evening I had my first test of dealing with stress since the onset of my ulcerative colitis. We’ve had a busy (long) weekend, and I’m slowly getting my strength and stamina back, though I still fade pretty fast at about 10 p.m. — very peculiar feeling for a night-owl like me. Last night I overate, and regretted it — first stomach pains in a week, and not pleasant. At 11 p.m. I headed for bed with a heating pad, only to get a call from my wife and grand-daughter (staying with us for a couple of days) telling me to “get down here right away”. Groaning, I made my way downstairs to discover that they had retreated into the closed-off wing of our house (our house is open-concept, with a 30-foot ceiling spanning its three levels). We’re getting some chimney repairs done, and in the process a bat had made its way into the house. My wife definitely doesn’t like bats, and we didn’t disenchant the grand-daughter of her impression that “there’s a bird flying in the house”. We’ve had bats in the house twice before, and getting them out is my job.

By trial and error, I’ve learned that the best technique is to wait for the bat to land on the wall (they prefer the brick chimney walls), trap it with the swimming pool net on the end of a telescopic pole, slowly ease it down the wall, slide cardboard behind the net, quickly replace the net with a plastic dish, and carry the then-trapped bat outside and let it go. This takes time and patience, and last night, sore and exhausted, I was short on both. But I just took a deep breath, got my bat-catching ‘tools’, and settled in to do the job. It took four tries and about an hour, but finally the bat was caught and freed outside, and the fireplace vents duct-taped to prevent further such visits.

After liberating my wife and grand-daughter from their refuge in our West wing, I returned to bed, but, thanks to the excitement and the damned steroid I’m taking for the colitis (prednisone causes terrible insomnia) I could not sleep. It was only then that I realized what a dangerous chance I had taken. Prednisone essentially shuts down the colitis sufferer’s (hyperactive) immune system. When you’re taking the drug, you can’t get vaccines or other treatments that rely on immune system response. If you’re exposed to something, you’re really vulnerable to it, because your natural immunity is gone. If this bat had turned out to have been rabid (a low but not insignificant danger in this area) and had bitten me, what would have happened? I lay there in bed laughing at myself — my grumbling and automatic action had been more than routine country living pest removal. In my condition, it had been nothing less than an act of reckless courage, even a potentially death-defying task. And yet at the time I thought nothing of it.

I did what I did because I had no choice. We do what we must. And I lay there thinking about all the people who perform such feats of astonishing and necessary courage every day, probably complaining and feeling rather sorry for themselves, but doing what they must with no promise of respite, for much or all of their lives, in poverty, anguish, pain, imprisonment, and/or abusive conditions, and with no real hope of seeing an end to their suffering. And even though they have no choice, I lay there thinking how in awe Iam of such people.

So here’s to the sick, the suffering, the imprisoned, the self-imprisoned, the poor, the victims of tyrants and abusers and noonday demons, those who demonstrate necessary courage every day because they have no choice. If everyone on this planet heard and understand their stories, this world would be a much better place.

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8 Responses to Necessary Courage

  1. Pearl says:

    Doing what you must is a gift to yourself as much as to others.I sort of envy you getting so close to the bats. It probably would have impaired you immune system more to fret about not being able to get them out and away from your family than contact would have. (Very few bats carry rabies any more than other mammals.)Your house design sounds cool. We had a house with a 2 story open space but I think it was only around 20 feet.

  2. You’re right; we do what we must. And when you must be on the meds, you have to be as careful as you can…except when you can’t.On the bright side, getting down to brass tacks about life has made me far more sanguine about letting go of it. Not that we want you to go anytime soon, Dave! I’m just thinking that maybe you’ll find yourself relaxing and enjoying things more overall. It’s a weird paradox, but you wouldn’t be the first to experience it.

  3. Candy Minx says:

    I am so sorry to hear you are suffering with health issues. I hope you are feeling much stronger very soon. My positive happy thoughts are sent your way!

  4. Karen M says:

    Funny that you should write this post now. It prods me to write something I have been thinking about… how, whatever one thinks of a system like astrology, the horoscope wheel itself is very useful for seeing the relationships of certain areas of life, e.g., why some are more compatible, while others are so often in conflict.However, I had been thinking specifically of the sixth house, which is the domain of the daily routine, the workplace and one’s co-workers, as well as of sickness & health, and, interestingly, of “service” which would include nurses, teachers, firefighters, etc. the under-praised heroes of modern life. One reason that they might be under-praised is that the sixth house is beneath the horizon, unlike, say, the 10th, which relates to career and reputation, and is often very populated with planets in the charts of prominent people. They’re also two of the “earth” houses, i.e., reality-based. Anyway, I was thinking how, just in the course of daily life, there are so many more under-praised heroes (6th) than there are those who become newsworthy, since people can become prominent (10th) for all kinds of reasons, not all of them heroic. Yet, fulfilling the call of the sixth house doesn’t allow for much else. I’ll bet that Sisyphus had a whole lot of planets in his sixth house. ;~)

  5. Theresa says:

    Karen, I don’t know about the 6th house ruling co-workers but it does rule people who work for you as well as military service clerks and clergy (though not institutionalized religion). I am pretty sure that bats are an eighth house afair, they are pretty scary. Anyway, I also find that the Greek mythology apon which wester astrology is based can be quite as useful in explaining modern phenomena to people who may not want to delve into the depths of astrology. You could say that we live at the end of the age of the Titans and that in the coming years, though we may be exposed to the contents of Pandora’s box, hope will still remain – as in the legend.

  6. As a c6-7 quadriplegic of 12 years, I’ve learned individual attitude is a choice. It takes a conscious effort, but I’d rather live my life happy NOW, than dwell on the negatives. This past June was the anniversary date of my accident. I was so busy, I realized a few weeks after the fact I hadn’t even remembered the date. Like one of my favorite lines from ‘The Shawshank Redemption’… Get Busy Livin…or get busy dyin.. That’s g-d right. Mike

  7. I read this, thinking about the story I just posted on my blog about the anniversary of the injury that really changed my life. It’s pretty small compared to the comment above, but still it disrupted everything and put me into the category of reaching beyond normal thought and behavior patterns. Interesting, how misfortunes seem to yield some of the greatest rewards, in terms of personal character. I have a friend who is likely going to be dying within the next few months. She lives every day in the state of contemplating limits and meanings and relative values and ultimate purpose. Sometimes I thank my lucky stars (in my 6th house?) that my life was not an easy one.

  8. P.S. I’m very sorry to hear about your pain, and very glad to hear in the newer post that it’s a little more manageable now. Sounds like it’s not much fun at all.

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