I know I’m lucky.

But sometimes, I need a reminder.

Like for the past few days my hands have been stiff and painful.

Oops. Looks like I overdid it.

Sore hands may not sound like much to be alarmed about, but I can remember the days when I my hands were in so much pain, I had to use my wrists to turn on the shower in the morning. And my husband had to tie my shoes. And I even had trouble holding a pen to sign my name (I took to signing my initials).

I can also remember not being able to climb the stairs in our home without intense pain and effort. One stair, rest. Another stair, wince, rest. We even considered selling the house and getting a ranch so I wouldn’t have stairs to climb.

I can remember being unable to sit through a meeting, to stand for more that 15 minutes before my feet started to swell, and to lie down and sleep on one side before my own body weight was too much for my hips and shoulders to take. I was uncomfortable all the time. I was in pain. I was exhausted and no one could understand what I was going through. It was hell.

Now. I know I’m lucky because I can use my hands all the time. I can climb. I can sit, stand and sleep. May not sound like much to some, but to me, it’s a second chance at living.

So yesterday, my hands hurt. That familiar pain that instantly brings back a flood of memories of what my life could be and I’m reminded–don’t overdo it.

The human mind is a funny thing. It wants you to forget traumatic things. It’s how it heals you. But the risk is that you also start to think that you can get away with anything. And sometimes you can’t.

So, I started a list of things I shouldn’t do anymore:

1. Rake the yard

2.  Bowl

3. Paint

4. Hang by my fingertips

5. Wear high heels

Short list, huh? Yeah. It seems really easy to avoid these things if I just made an effort to remember them and how lucky I am. I think I’ll post this list on my refrigerator tonight and let it greet me every day as a constant reminder: there’s a lot you CAN do, but these are the things you SHOULD NOT do.

I know I’m lucky to have my life back. I’ll be damned if I screw it up raking my yard.