Sunday, October 30, 2011

How do I give advice about Pain?

People see me hurting, and their first question is, "What can I do to help you?" So many responses come to mind. There are many times when I want to just blurt out, "Well, you could start by taking this miserable Pain from me!" But I know can't be done. So at times I get really frustrated when I'm asked this question because it's a continual reminder that my Pain has found itself a "home" inside my body, and it has no intentions of leaving me alone.

So when people do ask what they can do to help, I have learned to bite my lip and force a smile. Then I look directly at them, hopr I have their full attention, and say, "Well, just one prayer would really be appreciated!"

I make sure to not ask them for two prayers. Or one each day. Instead, I ask for One Simple Prayer, and I always promise to say one for them, too. Sometimes I think people walk away from me, thinking, Why didn't she ask for more than just one prayer? My answer is pretty simple: I believe that if one prayer is said truly from the heart for another human being, I believe the Good Man Upstairs hears that One Prayer very clearly. If people only knew that when we are in the midst of this wicked battle with Chronic Pain and how it takes every ounce of strength we have to simply keep ourselves moving forward, they might understand how special One Simple Prayer can be to help us as we are suffering.

A dear friend whom I met through my blog asked me a question today that moved me to write this particular blog. She asked, "Have you blogged? Because I could use some advice." I didn't know how I could possibly help her as she endures horrible Chronic Pain each day that robs her of even the smallest bits of having a normal life. Yet she also keeps pushing back against the Pain and does everything possible to keep her daily life going, carrying this wicked Pain quietly and not wanting to bother anybody. That's a silent suffering no human should have to go through.

I feel helpless and want to wave a magic wand to wipe away all her Pain and allow Joy to fill her cup to brim with smiles. No more throbbing Pain, just wonderful Joy. So my words of advice for her are simple: "I promise to say One Prayer for you today." And even though you don't know my friend, I ask you to do the same. Please pause for a second and pray: "Please help ease her Pain, Lord" because this small act just might very well be the magic wand that gives her continued strength to keep pushing forward each day, never allowing Pain to take all of her down.

For all who are suffering with Chronic Pain, know you have my One Prayer each day. All I can say is keep smiling, keep fighting, keep praying and always Keep Looking for the Joy. Mine came today in writing this one blog. I pray it offers even a small measure of hope.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Looking past our own pain battles

Before my own journey with Chronic Pain began, I never stopped to take a good look at somebody else who was suffering. I'd just mentally "brush" them aside and go about my life filled with joy and happiness. I was still the real me. Of course, that changed when I fell from the tree, and everything as I once knew it to be stopped me cold.

Yesterday was another "heart breaker" moment for me. It happened while I was attending church with my husband, trying to pray while dealing with the horrible Pain that's decided to run me even more into the ground.

Suddenly, the side door to the church opened. Looking up, I saw an older gentleman who attends services as often as possible. He has his own routine of getting inside the church. First, he moves his walker past the door. Then he moves the walker again so he can still hold on and reach to close the door. His movements are slow and deliberate, as if he were holding a piece of delicate china that he doesn't to break. Obviously, his body was in agony, due to the careful way he moves and a look of firm determination that's always locked on his face. He has just one goal: to make it inside that church without falling or causing anybody to worry about him.

As I watched this silent Dance of Pain, my heart filled with shame because I'd been so consumed with my own aching body. Seeing him, I realized I was learning a lesson about silent suffering and dignity. The man's next movement surely brought him Pain that would do the strongest person in. Carefully, he folded his walker, drew a deep long breath of needed air, and began to slowly kneel in prayer. I could not take my eyes from him! My heart pounded as I compared the Physical Pain I feel when kneeling to pray and realized there was no comparison to be made. Something told me that I was not even close to his league of Pain.

Yesterday, that man taught me about grace and faith. He showed me how to have the courage to pull myself past Chronic Pain, how to not care if the world sees my intense struggles. He showed me how he comes and prays for strength and courage to help him get through each day. He always has a gentle smile on his face. He's always determined not to let people know just how hard each day must be for him. Yet there he is, pushing beyond the wicked enemy, Chronic Pain. He doesn't allow it to keep him away from his church.

The service ended. With his walker before him, the man made another quiet exit from the building. I sensed that the hour had been a moment of Joy in his day. For me, Pain had already taken me out for the count. Once we left the church, I headed straight to the nearest emergency room to seek relief from the snake of Pain that would not let go of my body. As I lay on the table, waiting for medication to help ease me out of my misery, the image of this old gentleman was fixed in my heart. I prayed that, as time moves on, I will continue to learn lessons from others who suffer the same battle as myself.

It's not easy to look away from our own Pain battle. But when we do, the lessons that are right in front of us are so amazing! Maybe the day will come when I can summon the courage to ask this dear man "How do you manage to get through each day?" Something tells me that his answer will be simple: Just look UP, and all the help you will ever need is there.

My joy on this day might sound a bit strange, but it came as I watched my dear husband enjoying a football game on TV as he sat by my bed in the emergency room. The only thing missing was some popcorn!

You are all in my prayers. Keep finding your own way through the battle of Chronic Pain.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Health insurance people who wield amazing powers...

For all of us who suffer with Chronic Pain, we are very familiar with health insurance carriers. We must ask them for that special blessing that seemingly only they can give. We wait and hope for the phone call that will authorize the much needed medical procedure to ease our Pain. When the phone rings, we know the mighty powers known as Health Insurance People have taken pity on us.

Through the years, I've heard people discuss on national news shows how the insurance industry has a bottom line called PROFIT. Silly me! I'd always thought they were in the business of helping patients by working with their doctors and getting them needed treatment. Never did I dream how vicious this business actually is nor did I imagine falling victim to the reject patient assembly line that runs daily through so many health insurance companies.

Yet here I am, 14 years into my daily battle with Chronic Pain. In the last two years, I've found out how hard my own fight would become to get the only treatment available that gives me RELIEF from this mind numbing Pain. I can rise to the battle each day with the Pain, fall when it is raging, rest and then get back up to fight away. But then to have this horrible misery of being refused medical treatment when I am at my lowest with Pain...well, it can take you down to the darkest of valleys.

I feel very alone.

I got the news today that a procedure that eases my throbbing back pain was denied by my health insurance carrier because THEY decided it was not medically needed. There is a question I would love to ask each person who currently works for a health insurance company:"How do you sleep at night?"  Then I answered my own question. They sleep very well because all they see on a piece of paper is a NAME, no face, nothing to give them a glimmer of what true Chronic Pain is like. It's easy for them to dodge dark circles under eyes that come from so many lost nights of sleep because Pain refuses to ease. Or a body bent over in agony from Pain that is robbing a person of so much. As long as we remain simply a face, their job is easy and the pen they use to check off the NO box moves swiftly. The name on paper is tossed to the side as they take on another victim.

For those of you who are going through this experience, please hear my prayer for you and know how sorry I am that you, too, must endure this added suffering. Today I felt whipped, beaten down and so alone. But as the day wore on and I physically tried to work out my anger, that came to a fast stop because the Pain got my attention. I realized this is not a time for me to give up and allow this to happen. Instead, it is a time for me to work with my doctor, truly get to know my health insurance company personally and above all, give them a chance to actually meet the real face of the person who they only know as patient number #####.

For whatever reason, this challenge lies in front of me. My decision to stay the course and work with every ounce of strength in me to do my part in helping to teach my own insurance company just what Chronic Pain really is. It's so much more than a phrase, the name for a condition that all they can see is something that can't be fixed and is only costing them more as they pay for treatment.

This is my life, my future, and I will not allow Pain to beat me down. How did I find any Joy today in the midst of such anger? It happened as I was outside, kneeling on the ground, trying to plant a simple flower and then wondering, "Now how am I going to ever stand back up? This could get really interesting!"

That was my second of Joy as I struggled to rise up and laughed at myself while doing it. Hang in there as you fight through this battle of Pain and struggles with insurance. Know I am praying for all of you, and trust that I am also saying some prayers for me, too.  God bless.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Showing off battle scars

There are many elderly people who attend our church. As the years go by, I really had not paid that much attention to how time was catching up with all of them. To me, they are still vital Christian people who continue to give their time and service to others. So it's been easy for me not to see a new limp in someone. Or a hand clutching the back in a way they never did before. Or grabbing hold of the stair rail so to walk carefully down and not risk a fall.

Today my eyes were opened as I noticed people gathered around an older gentleman who was proudly showing off his new knee and how easily he could now flex it. It stunned me to realize he had been in need of such an involved surgery. All I could see was the long scar, still new and fresh, not healed completely yet. But for this man, it was his scar from the Pain Battle, and he was happy to show it off.

His wife stood near by. I watched as she clutched her back in a way that was all too familiar for me. I'd  spent most of my day doing the same thing. I asked how she was doing–although the answer was so plain. This woman was definitely in Pain, and she explained about getting her injection and now the next step was surgery. My heart went out to her, and it hit me that I was surrounded by people in daily Pain. Here we all stood, with our own individual struggles of battling Pain. Yet we still found a moment to laugh, talk about our Pain and then move on to a lighter subject.

One lady came up to me and said, "I know you are in Pain. Your eyes are saying this is not a good day." I confirmed her thoughts but then pushed aside my issues to check and see how she was doing with her own health problems.

Sometimes we simply have to move away from our Pain Battles so we can reach out to others who are also suffering and feel the same frustrations and exhaustion that comes with daily Chronic Pain. If we stop long enough and truly listen to another human share their hurts, we can walk away better for the experience because we stopped and simply gave a glimmer of compassion by listening and perhaps giving an encouraging pat on the shoulder.

We all need each other in this long journey of Chronic Pain. Perhaps we become a prayer friend with another person who is hurting. Or we can offer a strong shoulder from someone to stop and lean against as they take a very needed break from the battle. Do not be hesitant to reach out and be there for one another. You never know just how much that person might be needing that friendly hello, a smile, words of comfort, and a promise of prayer.

Believe it or not, joy for me came today as I watched the man show his battle scar. There he stood with his pants leg rolled up, weathered cowboy boots showing, and a smile on his face that seemed to shout, "Look at what I went through to kick Pain away from me." Then I watched others cheer him on for his rapid recovery. Yes, joy can come in some unusual ways. So please keep looking for yours and know my prayers are there each day for all who suffer with Chronic Pain.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The cold truth about Pain

It's been several weeks since I felt like blogging. Not because I haven't had thoughts to share about Pain, but because my Pain has been so intense since we've returned from our recent vacation. It's taken every bit of fighting spirit I have in me to face the battle each day. Let's just say, it has not been a piece of cake!

My body is tired from all this. So for this particular blog, I decided to do my best to give a vivid account of what my nights are like with Pain. Of course, I deal with Pain throughout the day, meaning I wake up with Pain, and I go to bed with Pain. It follows me every second of the day. At times, I get so mad because I deal with something that can't be seen. Many times, I want to whirl around and scream at the top of my lungs, "How about giving me a break! Now would that be too much to ask?" Instead, the Pain wraps all around me, and I get a couple of hours to sleep each night after taking my pain medication. In those wee hours of the morning, something claws away at me, wakes me from sleep and pulls me toward the fight.

So I get up, pause to look at my husband sleeping peacefully, and utter frustrations under my breath like, "Wow, he's so lucky to sleep!" Then I feel miserable because I would never wish this misery on this man whom I love so dearly. I stumble around, look for my heating pad that follows me around like a child hanging onto his favorite blanket, reach for a massive leg massager to work on the constant burning in my leg, grab my pillow and leave before waking my husband.

Pain can really be fascinating if you give it some thought. It sort of creeps up on you during the night, taunts you and then demands your attention by simply cranking the Pain level up until you are miserable! It seems that Pain demands that I ride along with it, no matter if my mind and body are exhausted from a lack of needed sleep. None of that matters because the Pain is here and demands that I join in, no matter how worn down I am.  In other words, Pain refuses to give you any form of a break.

The house is dark as I stumble toward my favorite recliner. First, I make a cup of hot herbal tea and hope it will help me relax a bit. Then I lean back against the heating pad and feel my body absorb the blessed warmth as my aching back throbs and screams for relief. Nobody but Pain, me and the Good Lord observe this crazy ritual I go through to hang on and fight with every ounce of strength possible. After a few minutes, I remind myself to fix a little snack to help absorb the Pain medication I take. Then it's back to my recliner. I flip on the television and sit, not caring what is on, paying no real attention to it as I twist, squirm, massage one leg, then go to the other and try to fall asleep. These are my nights lately. Not a lot of fun, and they certainly have a way of making me a very irritable person.

Today for the first time in quite a while, I felt so down emotionally and knew it was vital I give myself permission to do nothing but simply rest. So I spent most of the day in bed. No guilt this time, no thinking of all the things I should be up and doing. Somehow I knew that rest had to come so I can gain renewed energy and keep fighting against the Pain.

My Pain has no intentions of going away so I continue the fight. I am learning to do silly things, like have all my "Pain Night Items" close by so I don't have to stumble around in the dark. I am forcing myself to realize the importance of being humbled by this wicked game of Pain. I will never find a special bag of tricks to battle it into submission. Instead, I continue to learn how much I need prayer in my life as I beg the Lord to help me through each day. It might sound strange, but at those moments when I am thinking "I can't take this" and I want to give up, I go deeper into prayer and simply beg Him for help.

Late yesterday, I happened to look upward to the sky. There before me were two huge rainbows with a beauty that took my breath away. One was just glowing. The other seemed to glide across the sky and get larger as I stood there in awe. There was my moment of precious Joy amid this storm of Pain, raging within my body. All I needed to do was simply look up. For that brief moment, Pain was the last thing on my mind. All I wanted to do was stand there and cherish every second of seeing this amazing rainbow!

Each person has their own dance with Pain. I do not profess to have the best advice on how to battle back, except to say: Keep going and give yourself love, rest and comfort, all so vital to help in the fight against Chronic Pain. Don't forget to look up for strength and joy, too. I will always say a prayer for you. And if you don't mind, say a small one for me too. God bless.