“Sleep is the best pill you can take for what ails you,” said my now-retired neurologist when I told him that my injectable medications were causing muscle pain. I wondered if he could prescribe a medication for it.
He also gave me a number of other simple and practical non-pill directions for feeling better. When I told him my feet and legs were often ice cold, he said, “Wear socks.” When I told him I was drinking lots of water every day and was so frustrated when I needed the bathroom often, he told me to drink water, but perhaps drink a little less and see if it cuts down on my visits. I did, and it did!
The point is, as many of us know by our own experiences, healing can come to our overall health in many ways—not just a new pill or procedure.
So, when I grew to understand how my MS worked in my body, I had more knowledge and control over it. I learned to take a deep breath and be practical, doing simple things to improve the quality of my everyday life.
When I was frustrated when my legs were weaker than usual, I went outside for a little while, whether it was to empty the trash, get something from the trunk of my car, or drink a cup of coffee sitting by a tree. Nature and all of creation can be therapeutic. I felt a little more relaxed when I came back to the house.
My co-worker and friend Kathy knows how to tap the therapeutic value of the natural world. She shared what she had been doing with the outdoor world. She saw the phrase, “Metroparks—now more than ever!” on an ad that came in the mail, a reminder of the upcoming park issue on the November ballot. Kathy has always been attracted to the Metroparks and their ever-expanding variety of natural delights in the Toledo area. But, somehow, the busyness of life made her unlikely to venture out on her own to explore.
Last December, when she had a birthday looming, she told her adult children that all she wanted from them was a promise to accompany her on Metropark adventures during the coming year. So, one by one, they picked a park destination and wrote a cute rhyme explaining why they were choosing which park (dates TBD). She was thrilled!
In May, Daughter #1 took Kathy to Bend View Park near Waterville. After a refreshing woodsy trail trek—including a panoramic view of the bend in the Maumee River—they went on to have lunch and enjoy some Waterville highlights.
In July, Daughter #2 and family took her to Middle Grounds Park near downtown. There they took a leisurely summer stroll, picnicked, watched boaters and fishermen, and enjoyed the unusual perspective of the High Level Bridge from below.
In September, with Son #1 and family, she set out for Fallen Timbers Battlefield, only to learn it was closed that day. They rerouted and went to Side Cut, where they hiked and enjoyed a picnic lunch. The close-up river views were great; the shallows almost made them want to go wading! They later went on to Toledo Botanical Gardens, where they enjoyed the herb garden, gazebo, and other beautiful garden structures of wood and stone. They played in the “secret garden” playground.
Recently, on a warm, sunny October Sunday, they embarked with Daughter #3 on a trip to Secor Park. They took a leisurely walk in the woods, enjoying early fall colors and picking up (green) black walnuts. She was interested in the historic Wolfinger cemetery but will have to save that for another day, as the grandchildren (3, 6, and 8) were much more drawn to the fun playground.
Son #2 has promised a trip to Oak Openings and the sand dunes there. Kathy is looking forward to that sometime before her next December birthday. There are many more great parks to explore—and she thinks she will get there “maybe next year!”
I saw Kathy after she returned from one of her park adventures. She seemed peaceful, energized, and rested. It was as if she just returned from a vacation.
Spending time outdoors, even on your porch or in a park or cafe, can be healthy. The beauty of a warm sun, colorful trees, and scents of grass and leaves are medically healing. Our blood pressure can go down, we are less depressed, and we are in the most
natural doctor’s office.
We are living creatures. We are a part of our wonderful created world. Spending time in our world does not cost a lot and can often distract us from anxiety over the challenges of our lives. A good challenge for each of us might be to try to start small and get out of the house. Our health and well-being can improve by things that are not medications. A pill does not solve every health problem. A dose of outdoors can be healing.
It’s just what the doctor should order.