Several years ago due to severe back pain, I discovered I had a condition referred to as dysplastic spondylolisthesis which is caused by a congenital defect (present from birth). This condition has caused a narrowing of my vertebral canal in my lower back. What started as a twitch in my back, quickly put me down! Thankfully, with some rest and medication, the pain subsided and there were no surgeries recommended. I must say I am more careful today than ever on what I pick up or how I put any strain on my back.
This condition propelled me into using a stand up desk—which I loved. One of my team members, Danny, stopped by my office as he noticed I was standing and working. He wheeled in and asked about my back. I shared my condition with him and quickly said I was fine. He religiously came by for the next few days, “How is your back today?” “Fine Danny, just fine,” I would quickly reply.
Last year, I got one of my annual bronchitis infections which take forever to get over. As I would make my way around the office to greet various team members, before I could even say hello to Danny, he would swing around and ask how I was feeling. “Fine Danny, just fine.”
Also last year, I got a bad case of plantar fasciitis which put an end to my standing desk as I tried to get off my foot during the day. Who was first to inquire why I wasn’t standing anymore? Danny whirled in to say, “I notice you aren’t standing anymore.” “Yeah, I got a bad case of plantar fasciitis so I am trying to rest my foot some and roll it on this tennis ball during the day.” Danny expressed how painful that must be and to be sure to do my rehab exercises. Every week at some point, Danny would slide in and ask how my foot was doing. “Fine Danny, just fine.”
You might have noticed above that Danny wheeled in, swung around, whirled in, or slid in. You see, Danny is in a wheel chair. (He’s physically paralyzed from a tragic car wreck when he was in his prime—only a year and a half after his last game as a college baseball player.) I felt so uncomfortable with Danny asking me how I was doing, I could not imagine even thinking about sharing any of my discomfort with him. I was so quick to just say fine so I could get out of this uncomfortable feeling. I knew Danny had more courage every day to dress and come to work than I ever needed to face my little inconveniences. I was literally embarrassed when he asked me how I was doing or feeling.
Then I realized that Danny was demonstrating one of our core values in caring for each other. I realized that when I was not present in the moment in sharing with him what was going on, that I was stealing his joy of caring for me. I remembered the words of Bonnie St John that we must be helpable.
Danny has opened my eyes to be more caring and inspired me to be helpable while I also help and care for others. Thanks, Danny, for inspiring me and making me a better person.