Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

August 24, 2003


 Struggling with the doldrums and waiting for daylight


          In recent weeks I have been working overtime to avoid becoming a dullard. Two months have passed since my knee surgery, and I am still so weak physically that I am a bore to both my wife and myself.

            My good doctors assure me that my strength will return, in time. In the meantime, I must learn to be patient and wait. Recovery from the damage done by blood clots, following my surgery, will require four to six months.

            Medicine, interestingly, contributes to my weakened condition. The medicine is necessary, so I must embrace the bad as well as the good effects of my drugs. The bad effects are “side effects,” and they can sometimes deplete your energy even as they are contributing to your healing.

            Struggling with the doldrums is, for the most part, a new and difficult exercise for me. For 71 years I enjoyed generally good health and my days were busy. There was never a dull moment and I knew my friends were right when they called me a “workaholic.”

            At times my wife would chastise me by saying, “You must learn to relax and enjoy doing nothing.” I would laugh – and stay busy with a thousand and one things.

            The doldrums refer to a period of inactivity, listlessness, or depression. All three of those words help describe my state of late. With little energy, I have indeed been quite inactive, listless, and depressed.

            It is depressing to have such little energy that, having had a little breakfast, I flop down in my easy chair, not giving a hoot about what happens next. I tell myself this is not how life should be lived. Then I take a two-hour nap and wake up, still tired. What to do with the rest of the day is sometimes quite a challenge.

            “Exercise will help.” That is the advice many offer. The truth is --  exercise does help me. So I try to walk and ride my bike every day. That, however, is not easy to do when your energy is depleted.

            I took an anti-depressant for a couple of weeks. I suppose it helped. I finally quit because it is depressing to think that I need an anti-depressant. I am aware that this drug is helpful and necessary for many people. I simply am sharing my own feeling about it.

            My condition betrays the fact that I am an impatient person. Tired of feeling weak, I want to regain my strength and feel good again – today!

            Bothered by pain, I have sometimes laid awake and prayed for daylight. A new day surely will usher in new health. So far, it has not happened.

            In these days I have a new appreciation for people who endure, more patiently than I, similar physical infirmities. I have a new capacity for empathy with those who battle the doldrums daily, with far more torturous consequences than my own.

            I recognize that I am fortunate in that I have hope that my energy will return. The day will come when I will feel good again. Then, by the grace of God, I will walk without pain, and be able to resume doing many things I enjoy.

            What helps me enormously in this struggle is the untiring patience of my wife. I know she has wearied of my weakness and longed, with me, for my recovery. However, she has not given up and for that I am deeply thankful. Her faithfulness is like a bright star in my night.

            It cheers me so when someone writes to say, “I am praying for Dean also.” Thank God, for her need is every bit as great as my own.

            Encouragement comes also from family members and friends who continue to offer their love and support. To have friends pulling for you when you are down is a marvelous blessing.

            Someone, reading this, is apt to write me a “shame on you” note for sharing this struggle. My advice: save your postage and offer encouragement to someone near you who is fighting stress like mine. We should try to help one another, not heap additional guilt on people.

            This I promise: When my strength has been renewed, and it will, I will never again take for granted the thrill and joy of feeling good! + + + +