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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This morning I was desperate. I haven't slept for longer than two hours in a night for weeks and weeks. Pain has been too intrusive for me to be able to maintain sleep. Today, I feel wrecked....felt so exhausted that I reasoned, if I could just lie down with my kitty at my feet to the silence of the falling snow ...I just HAD to sleep.... and would probably sleep for two days, as I've done when in a similar state in the past. I am tired enough to die. Tired enough that death sounds appealing.

The problem is that I'm also in enough pain to die; or to want to...And this morning, my pain, after a long long night of it, began to cause a sense of desperation...the kind of desperation that fantasizes about extreme measures...anything ...ANYTHING which will grant me a little bit of relief...or even...permanent relief. And you know where I'm going with that...I don't need to elaborate.

This is how I was thinking. I felt like tearing my hair out. Like banging my head against a wall...Like.....well you get the idea.

I have a grudge against pain medication. It rarely gives me any significant relief...and I have a body that requires such enormous dosages of it, that to take them would be to risk respiratory failure. My pain doctor insists that I need to take very high doses of some extremely potent medications around the clock...to keep the pain from getting to levels that are unmanageable. And I have refused to comply. I have legitimate reasons for my refusal. It is not because they make me "dopey" or tired...because they don't. It's not because I have an addictive personality....because I don't . It's because I know that after a while of taking them, their efficacy fades. And then it will be necessary to increase the doses or to switch to other drugs...to keep my body from becoming accustomed to them. And it becomes an endless chase. And I know from experience, it is a futile chase.

Because my pain is simply unmanageable.

So this morning...as I contemplated different options of how to get relief...NONE of them healthy. NONE of them allowing me to open my eyes to a tomorrow, I knew that desperate times were calling for desperate measures. And in order to prevent myself from doing something foolish and irrevocable, I had to concede to doing something I don't like doing. So I took two types of pain pills; a double dose of one of them. I knew without a doubt that it wouldn't kill me and I knew without a doubt that it was my only option.

That was about an hour and a half ago. I still have pain. It' s still pretty bad pain...pain that I'm sure most people would find distressing. But it is LESS pain. The bloody edge of it is gone. And no, I'm not even faintly inclined to sleep. Too bad. You would think that a loving God, when he challenged me with the type of pain that I have, would not have also given me a body that is un-phased by pain relief measures.

And as I swallowed my medicine this morning, an old hymn came onto my mp3 player....and the first verse goes like this:

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently thy cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in every change God faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

and my heart echoed with the injunction to "leave to my God or order and provide..." and then rejoiced in the promises of his faithfulness which will extend all the way to the joyful end of my life. And the end of my life WILL be joyful. EVen if it were to happen today...at the "young" age of 48. It would be joyful not only because it would bring an end to this intolerable pain, but also because of my destination...when I cross the doorway from this realm to the next.

And then I picked up a book I bought yesterday for my Kindle which I've been reading and delighting in: "One Thousand Gifts; a Dare to live Life Fully" by Ann Voskamp. The book is poetically written and deeply beautiful in the truths it unwraps as it describes the authors' path through a life shaped by early tragedy and through her journey in discovering what it means to LOVE your Life...and to live it in such a way that, no matter when it ends, its end will be joyful. Replete. Filled with a satisfaction that is so satiated with joy that it will be okay to leave it and move on to the next phase...for this portion of it will have lacked nothing. And the path to such repletion is gratitude. Gratitude for God's graces and gifts...as well as for the wounds which inevitably accompany life on this broken earth.

And this gratitude is what enables us to complete our salvation; or rather, to experience its fullness.

I thought about this, now having arrived at a level of pain relief that allowed deep thought about anything. It means to be grateful, not only for the relief of pain...but for the pain itself. It means to savor the taste of our food...and to fully be satiated by it, whether we eat large or small quantities. And this only happens when we are conscious, not only of the blessing of it...but when there is an understanding that loss, that suffering is an inherent part of this world also, for now. And it allows us to seek, and to receive the graces of God that forge a pathway through it.

In the book I've been savoring, there is a quote by Sarah Ban Breathnach which says:

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world."

I want to live my life with reverence. I don't want to miss the flavor of a dish which I or someone else has lovingly prepared. And I don't want to miss the flavor of my life, which God has lovingly prepared for me to enjoy and to live. And when we get caught into a frenzy or panic caused by suffering and our desire to terminate it or to limit it, we also miss out on the many good things around us which we could be experiencing as well as the pain. God has crafted into the pain and challenges of my life, lessons and blessings as well. He has given me people that love me, the beauty of the snow falling outside my window, the purring warmth of my cat at my feet...I don't want to miss any of these things in my frenzy to avoid the pain which may accompany them. Pain is unavoidable in this life. If we seek to avoid, we will lose, and miss out on things we were meant to experience.

God, teach me contentment and gratitude in every circumstance of my life. Help me not to miss the savoring of the bread and wine and the love of my friends which I will lose the moment I seek to avoid the suffering which is part and parcel of our human experience.

Help me never to walk away from a plate longing for more, with a sense of ingratitude or lack, but may each experience come with repletion and deep satisfaction. And this must, as I've said, begin with awareness.

I would highly recommend this book. It is teaching me a great deal of things: Things which were not inherent in the message of the book, but of which God is whispering to me in between the lines.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You are bearing the unbearable with unbelievable grace and dignity and courage. Which does not make it easy or less unbearable.

    We cannot escape pain and suffering -- neither physical nor emotional -- but I wish you could be offered some relief from your burden which is way beyond bearing.

    Hope that tomorrow's medical appointment offers some new avenue for you.
    3529 days ago
  • VXWALL1942
    Each time I believe you have spoken with a wisdom beyond your years and experience, you bring something wonderful and new to the table. Watching your suffering and knowing that you have the faith and ability to tolerate it for Christ's sake is humbling. You are the recipient of a beautiful yet tragic gift. A pain that takes you to the brink of disaster and pulls you back from the precipice with love and knowledge that Christ has you enveloped in His loving arms. My heart breaks for you and yet at the same time I envy your rapt experience with our beloved Lord. Thanks for sharing that we may know the depth and breadth of your suffering even as we know that of our Lord Jesus Christ. My prayers continue with you, hoping there is some respite within the cage of your pain.

    Do strongly consider the meds designed to give you human endurance. He has allowed them to be available that you may see the light. 'Be still and know that I am God'.
    3530 days ago
    Cynthia, I am so sad your pain has rubbed you raw. I know, there is the round robin of the meds, but if it is going to cut the edge, it is better to stay with it. Gentle hugs, and lots of prayer.
    3531 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8603687
    Oh Cynthia I am lost for words right now,what pain you are going through is so horrible,this suffering you are enduring really challenges my faith.Sweety this just isn't fair for you to be in this amount of pain and yet there is not a darn thing I can do for you,but pray and tell you I am so sorry and I can support you and say prayers and I will. emoticon emoticon emoticon Diana
    God Bless You and may he give you healing and the ability to get some rest. emoticon
    3531 days ago
    "Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith. As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death,so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead! I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, c but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. "

    Susie....this passage from Philippians chapter three gives what is for me the crux of the goal and the effect (the desired effect) of suffering in our lives. I believe that this passage tells us of God's ideal desire for us...That we might be willing to lose all for the sake and honor of knowing Christ more intimately. That in fact,we will as James 1 says, "count it joy" or rejoice when we face trials because of their beneficial effect on our character. But here in Philippians the focus is on sharing in Christ's sufferings and thereby getting to know him more intimately. For me, this makes pain worthwhile. But it's hard not to "waste pain" to just endure it and grit our teeth and get through it...with out really thinking about it deeply, exploring our feelings about it,...observing and dealing with the negative character issues that arise because of it...or learning to lean on Christ with all of our strength and desperation to get us through a day...that is when we grow. That is when suffering has benefit.
    3531 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/18/2011 5:52:25 PM
  • no profile photo CD5645667
    I am so sorry I do wish I could ease your pain.. I know how you are feeling it is just so indescribable...
    why do we have to suffer?
    I often think it is a test of human endurance...Perhaps we are doing the suffering so others can learn from us ...
    I really can't explain why!.
    I really feel for you my friend .. I so wish I could take it all away .
    Perhaps it is a character builder ..
    Who know's what the Holy Spirit has in store for us .
    Except we must go on....
    I think Mankind will muse on suffering for a long time ...
    because only the Holy Spirit can ease our suffering!!
    hugs Susie emoticon emoticon
    3531 days ago
    I have been where you are at as far as the pain goes a few years(9) back. I do truly believe your particular spot is most likely much worse as the pain is as well. I have been able to learn from your blog and have taken some strength from it. For this I am grateful to you!
    When I busted my back we had no insurance or money to pay for any pain medications. So I hurt all the time, when changing one of the 3 babies to giving them baths and everything in between. I eventually turned to a church member who believed in "herbal concoctions" and I was soon trying May Jane to help ease the pain. It did very little as I remember other then making me spaced out and not feeling the pain for short times. What it did do was cost me my job and friendship with a couple of people.
    I always blamed myself for the weed and trying it to help ease my pain.
    I finally realize that I was only being human and trying to find a way to help relieve some of the pain..granted the wrong way ,"" by society"" but that was it . If I would have had insurance or any cash I could have paid my 200 buck to a doctor and another 350 for a small script of pain pills. Thanks for helping me realize why I did what I did back then. The old saying that was then this is now.

    Your life sounds a lot to me like another story out of the Bible : Job . I bet there are some good books about him and may be glancing over some of the things that happened to him may uplift you in this time of extreme pain. just thinking of the pain you are describing hurts my heart and I am praying for the soon relief and I hope you are able to get a few hours of sleep in as well. God Bless , Chris
    3531 days ago
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