This piece was first published in October 2017 and is re-posted here with permission.
For more than two years, I’ve experienced chronic pain, especially in my back and neck. I always thought it was something I would just have to “live with,” and didn’t anticipate that it would ever get better or worse. It just was.
But in August, all of a sudden, it was more than it had been. More excruciating. More debilitating. More overwhelming. The first time I noticed this change, I was walking in a shopping mall with my sister. We had only been on our feet for a few minutes when my legs went numb and I started to fall over—I had to use the wall behind me to catch myself. It happened again and again. The next week, I fell on the stairs because my legs were numb again. I fell on the stairs a second time and then realized that this is very bad.
Being in a new town and a new community, I wasn’t sure if I could find the support and care that I need. Thankfully, I found a doctor who agreed with me that something’s not right. I also have a patient advocate (and I recommend getting one yourself if you ever find yourself in a frustrating health situation).
The short version of the story is that I have had a back injury that I’ve ignored until I can’t ignore it anymore. I have broad disc protrusion down my spine which is causing stenosis. Because of limitations with health insurance, the only thing I can do right now is continue taking my nerve medication (that I’ve been on for a year) and rest. In a month or two, I will probably start physical therapy. I have no idea what will happen after that.
It’s nearly impossible for me to sit or stand for more than a few minutes. I walk with a cane now. I spend my days, every day, on the couch or in bed. I’m thankful to have a new dog friend who cuddles with me and doesn’t expect or need much more than that. Attending classes is hard. I’m grateful for my professors who have extended kindness, but I’m not sure I can catch up on the work that I’ve missed, or stay up to speed with the reading and research projects. When I’m sitting in class, I find that it’s impossible to focus on the conversation and lecture around me, whether that’s because of my medication that makes me a bit loopy or because of the pain that distracts me.
I struggle with doing household cleaning and meal preparation. Today I washed a few dishes and felt proud of myself for enduring the kind of pain I was in—but that’s an unfair expectation for my body.
Right now, I’m waiting. Waiting for more answers from my healthcare providers. Waiting for an indication of what I should do regarding my classes in seminary. Waiting for my pain to subside enough to do a bit of cleaning or reading for class. Waiting for some relief. Waiting.
I appreciate your prayers and silly jokes to help distract me. If you’d like to share a meal or drop one off, I would welcome that too. (But…you should know that my house will almost certainly be a mess.) I’m grateful for all of the love that’s already been offered and the Light that continues to pour in. Bless you all.
Posted with permission. Original found here.