Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Some Pain, All Gain

     On our first full day at Disney World, my experiences added another layer of appreciation to an already multitiered gratitude tower.  At no point during the day did my health impact our experience. It would have been possible to put the ease with with we walked around and enjoyed the Magic Kingdom as a family in the back of my mind, but I'm grateful that my body gave me an achy reminder all the way home.  

     After seven hours at the park, we walked to the bus port and stared at the long line of people in front of us.  My wife and I wanted to get home to rest, swim, and go to bed at a reasonable hour because we had a very early morning the next day, and our spot in the line of people wanting to get back to the resort was in the uncertain zone... would we fit on the bus, or need to wait for the next one?
     To our surprise, as people loaded themselves on, we fit, along with about ten people behind us.  We were in a standing room only situation, but I was so grateful that I was physically capable of standing up as we took the twenty minute ride back to the hotel.  The pain in my legs didn't really hit me until I wasn't walking any more.  I've been good about being much more active since the transplant, but according to my Fitbit, I'd walked about eight miles and it wasn't even 3pm yet.  So, my muscles were understandably cranky about doubling my normal step count.  But when I got into the hotel, kicked off my shoes, and laid on the bed, one thought resonated, pulsing through my brain just as the pain pulsed through my calf muscles:  "You are so lucky to be feeling this way."

     The searing aches shooting though my legs and feet were the byproduct of the fulfillment of a wish, and I am so glad they helped me appreciate what would typically be something to complain about.  As I writhed and groaned, probably sounding like I'd been hit with one of the pick axes carried by one of the seven dwarves, I was much, much happier than I sounded.

     And then we went swimming.  Probably because my arm muscles and certain leg muscles felt left out of the pain parade.  Even though I didn't magically become Michael Phelps upon swimming for the first time in three years, I was much more confident about being in the water.  After a couple hours of swimming and playing catch with a beach ball with my son, we returned to the hotel room where I again had physical discomfort that was overshadowed entirely by how happy I was to be a full participant on this vacation.  Falling asleep that night, I looked ahead to the upcoming week and marveled at how, despite the fun we had in 2014, this year's Disney vacation would be on a whole new level; filled with moments that could never have happened, and I could never have fully appreciated, just one year ago.

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