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Don’t Wait Till You’re Injured to Take a Break

When you’re knocked off your feet by health or by life, you might as well find some good in it—and where possible, some humor.

The day I got home from having surgery on my lip, I was practically skipping. All had gone well, I had everything I needed, and healing had begun.

So it rocked me a little when I woke up the next morning, looking and feeling like a total train wreck. Never in my life had my lip looked so huge. It looked like a flotation device.

Incidentally, in case you missed my earlier post, When Life Disappoints, Two Helpful Questions, this was not some sort of elective lip enhancement. But I digress.

The point is, I didn’t mind having bright blue stubbly stitches on my face. I minded very much having (white) stitches on the underside of my lip. They hurt. Everything hurt.

“You can have all the popsicles you want,” my surgeon had said. He was sewing me up at the time. Right there on the operating table, I let out a laugh.

I’m a middle-aged adult, dude. I’ve been eating all the popsicles I want since my thirties.

I said it more nicely than that.

That afternoon at the grocery store, I bought three boxes. Smart idea, except that eating popsicles turned out to be torture. Whose idea was it to mix in shards of coconut?! Ow.

"Precious Lord, Take My Lip"

Saint Padre Pio is quoted as saying, “If we knew the true value of suffering, we would never pray for anything else.”

I get it. Good does come from suffering—often unimaginable good. You’ve seen some of this in your own life, yes?

Yet my own feeling is we need not pray for suffering. It finds us.

The whole weekend found me in a haze of prayer and thanksgiving, mixed with middle-of-the-night grousing and pain all over.

“I'll tell ya. The mornin' after a fight, you're nothin' but a large wound, you know?”
– Rocky Balboa

Finally on Sunday around 3:30 in the morning, I reached reluctantly for the bottle of prescription pain meds, popped one, and sent myself a text. Crabby text. But I wanted to write myself a note so I’d remember what I took and when.

“Praying the meds kick in soon. This really stinks.” Only I didn’t say “stinks.” I am not proud of that, but at the time it helped—almost as much as the hydrocodone.

Cue Van Morrison’s “Brand New Day”

By Sunday sunrise I had graduated to Tylenol. Sweet relief. The lip still throbbed, but I was learning to live with it. I knew then as I know now, so many people would gladly trade their circumstances for mine.

Spoiler alert: Within a day of having the stitches out, eight days after they went in, the whole area would all but disappear with just a small dab of concealer. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lancome. Thank you, Dr. Rudolph.

Still, I wish I had as many words for the graces that came from the recovery as I did for the recovery itself. Just to name three of those gifts:

  • One glorious week of practically no appointments
  • Getting back to daily Mass and experiencing the peace that follows
  • Rediscovering outdoor walks, since walking was the only exercise I was allowed to do
It was like being on vacation, without the hassles or expense. I dug into home projects. Recalibrated work projects. Ate chocolate cupcakes and “forgot” for a day or two to weigh myself.

Those cupcakes were delicious.

All of this recovery took place the week of Memorial Day. I mention it now because we’re coming up on the Fourth of July. It’s on a Tuesday this year. You can bet a lot of folks will be vacationing that week, or at least out of the office.

Could this be your chance to carve out some downtime? If not then, how about another time between now and Labor Day? Because there really is nothing like waking up without an alarm, catching your breath, and yes, eating cupcakes for breakfast. With strong coffee.

Food preferences aside, when was the last time you gave yourself the luxury of open-ended downtime?

Good does come from suffering. Yet my own feeling is we need not pray for suffering. It finds us.

Gina DeLapa

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Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at