The Big Fix


I excel at self-diagnosis.

When I developed continuous pain in my right knee, I decided that I needed that simple little arthroscopic surgery I once had on my other knee. They trimmed my meniscus and I was good to go. Accordingly, I made an appointment with an orthopedic doc. I’d get an MRI. Then I’d get my knee scoped. Simple.

I didn’t get that. I didn’t even get an MRI. I got a set of X-rays on the spot that said I was a great candidate for…physical therapy.

Drat! That means hours out of my day twice a week. Means homework—all the exercises I’ll have to do on my own. It won’t work, I figured, but it will satisfy my insurance company, and then I can get what I really need–surgery!

I show up for my first PT appointment and the personal trainer-type assigned to my case starts working my hamstrings, my quads, giving me exercises for my hips and my back. I wanted to say, Don’t you have any knee exercises on that laptop of yours? That’s that I came for!

My inner rant lasted only about one session. Skeptical as I was, I could see all the muscle groups that hold my knee together (and how weak they were). I understood, as the old spiritual “Dry Bones” sings it,

The knee bone connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone connected to the back bone,
The back bone connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone connected to the head bone,
Oh, hear the word of the Lord!

In other words, we’re a synchronous unity. And when we break down in one place it usually means we need healing in many. Most every physical ailment we have involves a multiple diagnosis. We have back pain because we have front gain. The hip aches because we’re overcompensating for a sore ankle on the other side.

According to WebMD, seventy-five to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Everything from headaches to high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.

Yet no one sits on the crinkly paper in the exam room and tells the doctor they’ve come to have their stress treated.

In order to be healthy we must begin to see ourselves wholly. That means naming some of the weaknesses in our lives and stepping up bravely to do whatever work is required to bring healing and strength in this area of our life, so that there can be relief in that area of our life.

In the end, I’m glad the doc didn’t buy my blinkered self-diagnosis. If she had, I might have gained some short-term anodyne and lost this opportunity to attend to my whole self, body and spirit.

Remember Who You Are

  I have prayed it publicly at hundreds of baptisms, but yesterday it stuck in my throat. After the water has flowed and the rite is concluded we say, “Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin.” Water for cleansing….

The Bell & the Blackbird

There’s an old Irish legend of “The Bell and the Blackbird” that I found in a poem by David Whyte. It’s the image of a monk standing out on the edges of the monastery grounds, hearing the chapel bell calling him to prayer and thinking, “That is the most beautiful sound in the world.” In…

What I Learned Hiking With a Three Year-Old

I won’t keep you in suspense. It’s how many times this kid fell, and hard. He wants to lead the way and we let him. The trails are easy–we chose them with a three and a half year-old in mind–but there are brambles, rocks and roots. We call, Don’t run!, but this kid runs like…

My Sacred Car

They came this morning for my 2002 Toyota Avalon. Ran it up on a flat bed and took it to an auction yard. Some children’s charity will receive, I don’t know, three hundred dollars. I loved that car. It had a six-cylinder engine that jumped like a rocket. It had 237,851 miles: I knew this…