Jeffrey Bergeron: The grass is always browner in the other fellow’s yard
Danny G. just returned from the hospital minus some of his internal parts. After a bout with cancer the doctors decided that some of Dan needed to go in order to save the rest of him.
This was after more than a year of various treatments that Dan and his doctor’s hoped would be an alternative to more drastic measures.
I had been following Danny’s progress – or lack thereof – for a couple of years. We had spoken several times, but when I got the news that my friend was going in for some serious surgery I didn’t call him; I was afraid.
I was afraid that he wouldn’t want to talk to me. Afraid, that his fear and sadness would embarrass us both and afraid that I would have nothing to say of value. But mostly I feared that my own fear would be obvious.
When we finally spoke, Dan displayed a posture of perspective and bravery that reflected a proud stoicism. He acknowledged that his life was going to change but he was adamant that a changed life was much preferred than no life. He mentioned looking forward to watching his two daughters graduate from college, begin careers and marry. He reminded me of some of our mutual friends who have had serious health issues of which Dan’s paled by comparison. Dan said, “Berger, I look around me and see that it could be a whole lot worse.” He added, “And in fact, every time I visit the hospital and see what other people are dealing with. I’ve come to the conclusion that I have much to be grateful for.”
Danny went on to mention our mutual friend Joey, who is saddled with some health concerns which he might, or might not, make it past.
I hung up the phone vowing to remember that conversation the next time I was tempted to feel sorry for myself; I never guessed it would be so soon.
Not long after I spoke to Danny G. I broke some bones in my shoulder, an injury requiring surgery.
For the last three weeks I’ve been in near constant pain, not sleeping, and ranting like a that Russian figure skater with the silver medal and the mullet. I love winter and I love to ski, now I’m out for the season and I have difficulty buttoning my own pants without pain. Shoulder injuries are legendary for the discomfort they cause, and I have never been one to suffer in silence.
When I hear myself complaining – which I do almost every day – I often say, “I really shouldn’t bitch, I have a buddy who just had some of his parts removed.”
Whoever I am whining to always agrees; assuring me that – when compared to those with real health concerns – my situation is just a painful inconvenience.
I remind myself of that until the next time my shoulder hurts, and then I’m back to feeling sorry for myself.
None of us have to look far to find someone who has it worse than ourselves. I look at Danny G – he looks at Joey and I’m sure Joey has someone he thinks is worse off than he is. It’s like dancing at a wedding – I always try to dance next to the guy on the floor with less rhythm than me.
There is that old adage of, “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man with no feet.”
I’m sure that guy who has no feet feels better about himself when he meets a guy with no legs. The legless guy probably thanks his lucky stars that he isn’t that headless guy down the street. You don’t have to look far to find those deserving of sympathy – Joey, Danny, the gal who has to wax Rush Limbaugh’s back and the entire country of Haiti. But the ones I really pity for are those poor souls who have to listen to me complain about my shoulder.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or from http://www.webersbooks.com
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