As I’ve been lying here in bed the past 5 days, I’ve been thinking a lot about pain. The bone pain in my legs has been horrendous! It is beyond description. I have a new appreciation of the skeletal system, and am appalled at how much I’ve taken it for granted all my life. The chemo attacks many normal cells in the body as well as the cancer cells. The nerve cells, the hair cells and the GI cells in particular get hit with the Taxol and Carboplatin I was given last Thursday.
Do you know what it is like to have your leg bones feel like a hot branding iron is touching their centers? It’s far off the scale of pain! No amount of morphine will touch it…not even in the least bit. Only given Dilaudid (known as 10 times more potent than morphine) directly into my veins did I get any relief.
Then the pain shifts…into ankles and feet. My legs want to crumple with the least amount of weight-bearing. To put any pressure on them, I can feel the pain ascending as the pressure increases.
And the night hours, when all are asleep, and the darkness covers the earth, knowing nothing can be done…I just must be brave. It will pass….at least that is what they say. Just a few more days, and it’ll be OK. Just hang in there. Try to distract. Try to be productive with projects of the hands & mind. Try to pray, to read, to meditate.
I’ve been impressed with a few things these past days.
Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonian believers has hung in my ears. “Be worried about nothing. But share your heart with God. And don’t forget to be thankful.” Don’t forget to be thankful. So as I’ve laid in bed in pain, I’ve often started my mental list of things for which I can be thankful.
· That I have a comfortable bed.
· That the pain is not in my back.
· That I’m not nauseated.
· That good medical care is available.
· That pain medicine is available (at least there is the hope that it might work).
· That I have a husband and family who love me.
· That so many others around the world genuinely care for me and are faithful in prayer for me.
· That I’ve only lost 7 pounds this week.
· That the diarrhea has slowed.
· That I have a laptop and Jessie thought to watch movies on it.
· That I have a portable phone at my bedside.
· That Liz bought us a cell phone.
· That the night sounds are so sweet.
· That the dogs are barking, full of life.
· That I have a flyswatter to get all the flies.
· That I found sets of the old TV series Wagon Train, Anne of Green Gables, etc. and actually splurged to buy them.
· That God has moved Shewaye to try to help us get a vehicle for the clinic.
· That Oshe is traveling even now to Addis to check the vehicle.
· That the well-drilling ministry in Awassa has liked my design for catching rain water and is prioritizing placing the system.
· That the Burji government office is very happy with the clinic and recommends a new, up-graded license.
· That they are eager to re-produce the McGee tapes for the Burji churches.
· That email will hold messages until I can get them.
· That the Flat River thrift store gave us a wheelchair for the clinic, and I can use it until we take it there.
· That Jessie fixes food for me and brings Nolan to visit me, with his happy, chubby cheeks and beautiful blue eyes.
· That Liz calls me every day while she’s caring for her sick boys.
· That Daddy is going to Houston with us on our Texas trip.
· That Grandmommee taught and encouraged me so many years ago to do handwork.
· That I ordered handwork sets a year ago, and can do them now.
· That there is little pain in my finger bones.
· That the pain is caused by nerves, not bone marrow damage; I need healthy bone marrow to restore my blood next week.
· That our home has electricity and indoor plumbing.
So many things to be genuinely thankful for!!!! I’ve thought much about Kura in Burji these past weeks. He was a young man, about aged 17, just beginning his life. In the providence of God, he was struck with brain cancer. I was the first to diagnosis him, when he came to me asking why he had suddenly gone blind. In the providence of God I was able to find pain medicine for him. I didn’t give him 6 months, but he lasted 18 months. Just weeks before his death, I visited him in his home….a mud hut, full of holes, rats. His bed was made of hardened mud. His blanket a dirty rag. Oh! How blessed I am!
But it was his brain cancer that brought Kura and his family from Islam to Christ. And it was Christ who filled his family with a peace and joy and love in the midst of the trial.
And that brings me to the second point of my meditation. There is pain, and then there is pain. It comes in many forms. The pain of the body is easy to describe and sometimes medicines work. But what about the pain of the emotions….hurtful words by others, shunning, outbursts of anger, depression, a haunting sense of defeat and abandonment.
And what about the pain of the spirit….guilt that will not go away, conscience that refuses rest. That constant dagger residing in the innermost person.
As I have been here on my bed, my prayers have been for those silent sufferers….beside me in the pew at church, across from me in the grocery line, down the road in a small house. Those who are crying out in pain, day after day, week after week, year after year. Crying silently. With a pain far worse than mine.
The One who holds me in this wracking pain is the same One who offers to hold those in other kinds of pain. Only He really knows the pain level. Only He knows the whys and wherefores of the pain. Only He, who suffered pain for us, can truly wrap His arms around us and hold us tight until it passes.
And it will pass. Just a few more days. Hang in there. He is returning. And when He returns, He will make all things well.
September 24, 2009