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God's Free Gift

Pain >> What a Pain!

I keep wanting to write about my pain experiences, but when I could do so mentally, I have too much pain to be able to sit down and concentrate on putting words to paper.

NBC news is running a special series this week about chronic pain.  They estimate that one in five Americans suffer from chronic pain.  Now that may be true, but to my mind there is pain -- and then there is pain.

For example, a person may have chronic pain from long term cancer -- or some other illness.  For years I suffered from sinus infections.  I would have terrible headaches.  Ultimately it got so bad, that I essentially had a headache for about a year and a half until I underwent sinus surgery.  That was chronic pain, but I don't think that is what most of us consider to be the type of pain under consideration -- although if you are in pain, maybe it does not make any difference the source.

In my case, I underwent several years of leg pains -- the pain went from mild aches to lightening sharp jolts.  This ultimately lead to back surgery (more here).  While my leg pains were basically cured, I was left with the type of pain I think of as chronic.  In my case, the pains were in my right heel, groin, and thigh.  What makes them chronic is that no one has an explanation as to their source.  They are just here -- and at a substantial level.  I was never able to return to work full-time and ultimately ceased working. 

As with all new chronic pain patients, I balanced my approach to a solution between a pain specialist so I could attempt to function and others who sought a cure.  After almost three years, a new surgeon speculated that the pain was caused by a combination of factors in my spine that simply made my spine unstable in some fashion causing a pinching somewhere that created the pain.  The solution proposed was to operate again, potentially performing a variety of "simple" steps designed to create a new environment in my back.  Odds of success - 60% that my pain would be substantially reduced.

So, a month ago I had the surgery.  I am optimistic -- I awoke in the hosptial room feeling much different than after the first surgery.  The first time around I awoke knowing something was amiss, even though it took a few months to discover what was included in the "amiss."  This time, I did not wake up feeling something new -- in fact, I felt pleasantly ok. 

Here a month later, I remain optimistic, but the pain still exists.  However, as those with chronic pain will tell you, much of this process is very subjective.  Pain levels, no matter how high we project them on the smiley face chart, can always go higher.  The same real level may deserve to be ranked at a different scale rating because of factors like lack of sleep or mood.  In my current position, I think I have attempted to reduce pain medicines too fast and just had a terrible four days of sweats, being wiped out, and other unpleasant symptoms. 

At the same time, while the pains are the same as before surgery, that is not exactly true.  Same areas, same general types, yet, they "feel" different.  This brings hope, while the current level of pain medications suggests no progress.  This is the real battle.  How do you mentally and emotionally balance this see-saw perspective on something that you are the only one suffering and which cannot really be measured by a third party. 

I have found the only answer is to continually, every day, every hour, talk to God about it.  Tell Him your fears, your complaints.  Make demands upon Him to cure you, to see you through.  The pains may never go away.  I may never go back to work.  I may never get into full time ministry and "do good" for His kingdom.  Yet, as long as I keep turning to Him, somehow, my attitude stays on the right side of the track.  He keeps me there.  I know He is in control and knows what He is doing, even if I don't.  This peace brings me peace.

When I remember to seek it.

Jim A

Posted On: 2006-01-04 16:26:05 || Comments (0 ) || Add a Comment
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