My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Monday, March 21, 2011

I haven't got time for the pain...

I arrived at a conclusion on Monday: when people stop asking how you're doing, it's because they're tired of hearing about it. Like that commercial of the woman with the obnoxious arm cast who rattles on through the whole commercial about how miserable she is. I have become that person that people are afraid to ask, "how are you?" It's almost as if ... if we just avoid talking about it, it will go away. Reminds me of the nurse at my regular doctors office who called and said, "we have the results of your MRI. it shows two bulging discs. if you're still having pain..." IF?

Anyways...It is what it is. I worked all but two hours yesterday. The pain was washing over me in waves along with some pretty strong nausea. Couldn't take it any more and left around 3:30pm. Someone said to me the other day that I'm a strong woman... I don't feel strong. I feel afflicted. My nerves are so raw. I'm so tired. How do people live this way? What do you do when you run out of sympathy? I mean... whether you ask me how I am or not, I'm still in pain. It's like on an award show when the applause ends before the recipient of the award reaches the stage. Awkward silence... are you still appreciated without the applause? If the pain outlives the sympathy, is it still legitimate?

It makes me wonder how long it will be before people avoid me altogether because they don't want to hear any more about it. Will people stop reading my blog... or skim over the parts that talk about my back pain? There are already people in my life who have drifted away. I don't know how to be anything other than my authentic self. I'm simple that way: whatever is closest to the surface is what is most likely to come up in conversation. The bottom line is that things are getting worse... not better. I have more muscle weakness, more muscle spasms, more pain... and now more nausea than I did on the very first day this hit.

I've been reading Job... you know how they say, "misery loves company"? When you're miserable... you read Job. Here's a passage from the third chapter:

24 For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. 25 What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. 26 I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

If God permits in His wisdom what He could have prevented with His power it is for this purpose: that we would bow our knees and say "yes lord, your will be done."

I haven't lost sight of the fact that this pain began on the same day I prayed, "Lord, show me your power"... not that I feel that God has afflicted me. Honestly, I believe my human condition, my finite, mortal body has failed because I didn't take care of myself. I asked too much of my back.

However... I will say this... a friend of mine from childhood, a breast cancer survivor, passed along a prayer request yesterday for a young lady who has been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. My friend noted that this woman was in good health, a vegan... almost as if she didn't deserve to have cancer and implicating that people who have a poor diet and don't exercise "deserve" it. We have that tendency, don't we? To look for "reasons" for an illness. I know my friend doesn't really feel like anyone "deserves" to get sick... it's just a matter of trying to make sense of it all. I think it's our human response to try to claim power over sickness by rationalizing that people who eat healthy, exercise, keep a healthy weight couldn't get sick... and those who abuse their body by carrying too much weight, eating poorly, not exercising "deserve" to get sick.

We want to feel like we have control over things that we really have no control over. I feel guilty for my pain. Literally. I feel bad that I'm not as good of a mother, employee, aunt, friend, etc... I feel like I need to apologize for being unable to do the things that people want/need/expect me to do.

Yesterday I saw this quote and it stopped me in my tracks: suffering doesn't create your spirit, suffering only reveals your spirit. I am doing everything in my power to mitigate the pain in my back... being my own advocate, eating as healthy as I can, following doctors orders, getting whatever tests/treatments are recommended... but the pain is still there. So... while I'm in this season of life, for however it lasts, I have to structure my response to that season of trial to be a Godly response. I prayed that He would show me His power and He has. He has carried me. I'm not strong but God is. I don't have the energy or mental fortitude to handle continuous frustration and limitation but I know where to find the energy. All that I am NOT... He is. I have to make sure that the spirit revealed in me is what God intended.

I'm not one to suffer in silence. To quote Lady Gaga, "I was born this way"... I'm vocal. My 9th grade cheerleading sponsor once said about me that at first she thought I was a complainer... but the longer she got to know me, the more she realized that I was just a spokesman for people who don't speak up. I live out loud. No way around it. I believe it was by Divine Design. AND... I believe that every situation that I have given voice to, has been a blessing to someone somehow. So... this is the topic that is most prevalent in my heart and mind right now... and if you'd like to join me on this journey from survival to revival, I'd love to have your company. IF it's too much... if this topic doesn't interest you, that's ok too. One day when you're suffering (because we all will, at some time in our lives)... you may want to check back with me and learn from what I've learned.

Today I'm asking God for strength in my arms and legs... I'm so weak and shakey. I'm asking for enough relief from the pain for long enough that I can be productive at work. I'm asking Him for a financial blessing for myself and my employer. I want to be the best me I can be... and I'm asking that He bless Austin while he's taking some really important tests this week. Like the old hymn says, "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow"... that's what I'm asking for... and if you're someone who has lived with long term pain... let me know what has worked for you and how I can pray for you!

Happy Tuesday, y'all!


Terri said...

I have lived with my back pain for 11 years now. I have learned to tolerate it. I can't stand or walk for very long. Some days are worse than others. Like right now I am spring cleaning. I know my back will be killing me later. I have learned to adjust my life. I can't and wont pick anything up off the floor, to raise it to about waist level. My kids help alot. They have seen me in bed for a week at a time not able to get up.
My youngest has been baptized and I would love if my oldest would do the same. She is a believer and she loves God, and she wants to be baptized, she is just a little scared. Please pray for her. She has to be able to make that decision on her own and I know that one day she will.
My prayers are with you and your family!

monique said...

I don't won't to put too much in a comment but you should see a neurosurgeon. You don't want to end up with a "foot drop" or worse.
You can email me at if you want to communicate. I HAVE felt your pain.
Good luck,