I have chronic pain and chronic fatigue which means I quite often am not allowed by my body to do what “normal” people can do. I understand what the apostle Paul said about buffeting his body, as I regularly must force myself to keep moving when my body literally wants to shut down. Lately, the fatigue has really brought my daily functioning to a prolonged low.
I’m reminded that God uses even me as a “weaker vessel”. Not that I would chose to be weak and unable to be more productive by man’s standards. No way! Like the Apostle Paul asking to have his “thorn in the flesh” removed, God has chosen to not miraculously remove my affliction. Maybe it is to protect me from the sin of pride through accomplishment in my own power. Whatever the reason, I have seen how God can use me this way; flaws and all. For I KNOW it is nothing that I am bringing to the table. It is truly ALL God.
As it says in the Bible: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NASB) 9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
One of my all-time favorite attitude adjuster verses is Phil.4:8-9.
“Whatever things a true, honorable, righteous, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent or worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”
I do hope I quoted that correctly, I have memorized it by using the memory minder “THoRP L GREWP”.
So, when I get discouraged by a situation, or set of circumstances, I purpose in my heart to look for the good. It IS there somewhere. I run through the list and go treasure hunting.
I want to end today’s post with some words from a favorite hymn called Take My Life and Let It Be “Take my life and let it be; consecrated, Lord, t0 Thee. Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise, let them flow in ceaseless praise.
I may not have much, but what I do have is all yours, Lord!
Some of you will have already heard about this, but since today is the anniversary date of a major life-altering event, I decided to reblog it.
September 17, 1987 is a special date on the calendar for me. You see, it was 22 years ago today that my life took a major hit. While driving our Kawasaki 550 motorcycle I was broadsided by the car of a young lady performing an illegal U-turn. My life as I had known it (had planned) would never be the same.
It was just before the impact and I was waiting for morning rush hour traffic to clear from one of the two major one-way streets located at the end of my commute to work in beautiful Santa Barbara, California. I knew that I had to wait a few moments more before the traffic cleared. So I took the opportunity to shoot up a praise to God. “What a gorgeous morning it is Father. There is not a single cloud in the sky.” Additionally I am going to be early for work, and I am excelling at my job.
Looking back on that moment now, I realize that was the last minute in which I had no chronic pain in my life. I really do forget what that felt like. Perhaps God answered me with ” Oh sure, you think it’s beautiful and hunky dory now, but let’s just see what you think in a minute.” I believe that in Heaven, God was gathering the angels to watch what was going to happen next.
After crossing the intersection, I noticed that a car traveling in the opposite direction quickly pulled along the opposite curb as it going to park. But then it happened. The sudden impact broadsided me full force as the black bumper of the Civic instantly crushed my Left Ankle. I found myself startled (WHAT just happened), in great pain as my foot was hit by the car then pushed off the peg, and dragging along the pavement. On top of all that, my head was wizzing by the bumpers of cars parked on my side of the street as I was still moving forward although at an angle of a track bike (like the GT racers we just saw here in Indy).
I jerked with all my might to keep from going down. All the while it occurred to me that I am now driving on the wrong side of the street (from jerking up), my foots dragging, and I must stop in just a few yards BEFORE I enter the intersection with the other major one-way street. AAAAAAH!
This is where I testify to the miracle on my motorcycle. God was at work greatly in my life. He got me to stop the motorcycle before getting hit again. I did NOT go down even though broadsided. I think part of the credit for that goes to the fact that I raced bicycles at Major Taylor Velodrome and in racing class and training we would purposefully jam our bicycles into each other to learn how to avoid wrecks and react to unexpected pedal in your spokes.
Once I had managed to stop the forward movement of the cycle, I was standing there with both hand squeezing the calipers on the handlebar (clutch and brake). I was managing to stay balanced on my one right leg, but it was heavy and my other foot was mangled. What was worse is that I couldn’t shift the cycle into neutral because it would have been done by my useless left foot. I was stuck there!!
Just then, a VERY pregnant woman came up the sidewalk to help me. I remember thinking that the gutteral screams that came out of me were not very feminine (surprised that I sounded like a guy) and that I could even scare her away if I didn’t quiet them.
She came up to me and saw that I had a problem, but couldn’t hear me very well through the running of the motorcycle and due to the fact that the visor of my full face helmet was down. So she was fumbling around trying to undo my helmet. I swallowed all screams of pain and yelled, “PUT… the KICKSTAND…. DOWN!” Once she did that, I killed the bike by turning off the key with the assurance of the kickstand there to keep me from falling over.
I took off my helmet and looked down at my foot. It looked like the ends of two of my toes were missing and I knew that my ankle foot was broken. The lady had called the police and ambulance and wanted to help me to the sidewalk. I initially declined since she looked like she would deliver her baby if she lifted half of my weight. However the incessant throbbing convinced me that I should accept her offer.
We managed to get me to the sidewalk, a couple of very painful steps, and then I was down. Only then did I see that the only damage to the motorcycle was to the left case guard that helps protect the engine… a $50 part!! Another miracle.
Yes, God saw to it that I did not go down, that I had NO other damage to my body other than my left knee, leg, ankle and foot. Do you realize that if I had gone down I wouldn’t have been able to even use crutches?
May I just say something about crutches. When I am using them I get the “oh, you poor thing” look from everyone. Others using crutches say, ‘don’t you just HATE having to use crutches?” My answer is a resounding “NO.” I love these crutches. This is the original pair and if they had an odometer on them it would have tripped over the 100,000 mile mark about three times. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
When I am on crutches I can really move!! Just ask my friends. Unfortunately, right now I am recovering from a shoulder injury and can’t use them yet. So I appreciate them all the more, because without their use I am much more limited. Still I do have the famous “black boot” that I can throw on when I am expecting to be “slammin’” (on my feet or walking a lot). Again, I get the looks and the questions “what happened, did you have another surgery?”
I know that people are generally caring and tend to think that injuries are supposed to get better. But the sad fact is that some of us are never going to recover from our injuries. Not in this lifetime anyway. These appliances (crutches, canes, boots, funny shoes) are just our ways to cope in the meantime. To try to live a productive life in spite of the physical challenges.
I now joke that I have been through probably about a dozen sets of guardian angels. They draw lots up there to NOT have to get me as a client.
Almost half of my life has now been in constant pain.
As a competitive long distance runner I used to just push through the pain. No pain, no gain, right? Maybe so, but you will notice that I don’t run anymore. I can’t. If it’s an emergency or something I can lope along with the understanding that I will have to pay a physical price. I’ll be “lame” for a few days, and have to go back to using my crutches.
Worse than that, I often don’t realize that I’m overdoing until after it is too late. Again because my way of dealing with pain was to mentally ‘shove it aside’, I use a kind of self-hypnosis that worked well for me as an athlete, but that can do damage to me now.
Since I am allergic to almost all pain medicines, I can take none. So I really am in constant pain every moment I am awake. But there are a couple of coping skills that I have learned that work for me. Music is the biggest one. When I sing or play, it is a painkiller for me. It helps that I like to sing praises to God with our church worship team and jam on mandolin and guitar with friends. That’s why you’ll hear me turn almost any sentence into the lyric and break out into song.
Another painkiller is laughter. My friends help me with this one. Laughter is the best medicine is tried and true. I know that depression is just a natural outcome when someone is dealing with chronic anything. There are chemical things happening in the brain with seratonin and endorphins and such. Since I am unable to be as physically active as I was as an athlete it’s even more important that I laugh. Like exercise, laughter increases the endorphins; the body’s natural pain killers.
So that is why when you first meet me you may think that I am very silly. I am learning to roll with the punches and not take things too seriously. I realize that things could ALWAYS be worse. And, in many people’s cases, they are. However, I also realize that no matter what happens it is all under God’s control.
Let God be God: get out of the way.
So my plans to be a nurse practitioner were trashed, as were the ability to participate in a lot of the exercises and sports competitions that I enjoyed. Now I have a permanent disability that prevents me from enjoying the life I wanted to live. Besides the walking, standing, foot down time and distance limitations, I have the physical drain of the constant pain. Think about it, when you are in pain you get tired more easily, don’t you. I think part of that is from swallowing down the pain, not expressing it through some means. The other problem is the emotional drain. Frustration of not being able to do what I once did, it’s never going to get better than this, the extra time that adaptability methods require. It just takes more time to do things.
For me, with my bent toward perfectionism, I need to get rid of the “would have,” “could have,” “should have” statements. It just is what it is. I am not God. I am learning more and more the importance of the Serenity Prayer:
“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things that I cannot change [past, not in my control], Courage to change the things I can [focus on what I CAN do, and learn new ways to adapt], and the Wisdom to know the difference.”
Over the last 21 years, I have learned a lot. I would not have chosen these events. But I now see where God was in control the entire time. “I know the plans I have for you…. plans for hope and a future,” is what God tells me in Isaiah. It is not the path that I would have willingly chosen for myself… motorcycle crash, crushed leg, 31 surgeries, pain and disappointments…. “sure, sign me up.” Nonetheless, I am blessed beyond measure. I have become a stronger person who is learning to take my value less from what I do and more for Who’s I am.
I joke about the fact that with so many surgeries and stuff, the guardian angels have to draw lots in hopes of not getting me as an assignment. I’m sure I have worn out at least a dozen sets. I know that like Paul, God has allowed me to be molded through trials. That if I hadn’t had all this happen TO me, because He cares FOR me, I would probably have been a prideful, arrogant, competitive jerk. So when the trumpet sounds, get ready to eat my dust… cause I’m going to be running into glory!
==== Today I am celebrating the fact that though this event was traumatic, it began a new direction in my life. A major turn for what I Biblically believe is guananteed to be for the better.
The chicken was almost done in the oven when Steve arrived home from work. I glanced behind him standing at the sliding glass patio door into our backyard. There I saw a threatening sight; a dozen robbins were flying in and out of our Northern Star dwarf cherry tree. “Hey, get out of there!” I yelled at the winged thieves, “those cherries are almost ripe!”
The next few moments I was in a whirlwind as I grabbed a tree cover, some clothes pins and the step ladder to quickly cover the tree before the supper was done cooking. It would only take a few minutes, and then the little bandits would be at least deterred from depleting the ingredients for our future cherry pies.
Because of the metal rod in my left leg and fused ankle, I was barefoot to make sure that foot placement was solid and centered on the nice wide treads of the step-ladder. I had just finished attaching the half way point of the cover. When, suddenly, I was slammed into the ground.
There I was, face down in the lawn, trying to assess what just happened. My bell was rung! You could say I was seeing birds of a different variety now… the kind that join the stars around your head when you are hurt badly. I had apparently hurt my left side pretty badly, the ladder was contorted on the ground beside and beneath me, big bruise to the left thigh (that’s gonna be ugly), wrist, arm, shoulder all hurting from the fall, but then I saw my left foot… it was bleeding badly. Because my left ankle does not flex AT ALL, and the little toes on that foot curve under so badly, one of the toes evidently caught an edge that hyper extended it to the point of ripping or cutting the flesh as it came in contact with the hard metal.
“I am hurt”… correction, “I am hurt badly” and “I gotta get into the house NOW” were the words coming out of me as I limped toward the door as fast as I could. I grabbed the dishpan full of cold water that we keep right inside the door for cleaning the dog’s feet when she comes inside and was happy that I had just recently cleaned it well and that it was full of cold water. I stuck my foot right in there and watched the water turning dark red. It was like a scene out of the movie “The Ten Commandments”.
I called Steve into the kitchen, he was mad as he ran to get the first aid kit. Then I called in our daughter Michelle to get some ice on these big bruises. Then Steve doctored me up by pouring Hydrogen peroxide over my bleeding foot that was now up and over the edge of the kitchen table. It really hurt a lot as he straightened those little toes to get it clean in there.
I believe I lost consciousness for a tiny bit shortly after saying “I feel very dizzy … sick … not good.” I was sitting in a tall backed kitchen chair and rocking my head with the pain. That is something I do naturally rather than cry. However, I came too suddenly as Michelle was straightening up my head and trying to put a pillow behind it. As I was coming to, I realized that I was blowing out the pain and drooling, kind-of spitting up. Woah! I guess I am hurt worse than I thought. There was no way I was going to be able to drink the water Michelle was offering me. “No” was my answer to her offering me some Aleve pain killer. I do NOT want to thin my blood any more or make the bruising worse.
After Steve packed the cut with topical antibiotic and pressure of gauze and tape. They helped me get situated in the living room recliner for the night. Foot elevated, cleaned, bandaged, taped and now enjooying the comfort of pressurized ice water inside my cryocuff. Ice bag ace-bandaged to the giant bruise on my left thigh. AND I wrapped another little bag of ice over my left wrist and hand which I have at least badly sprained. I elevated that up against my chest as I laid my head back against the chair with a very cold wet towel behind my neck to ease the neck/head pain and nausea.
I am in PAIN!! I did NOT go to the ER… we were doing about everything they would do anyway. Plus, I have had more than my fill of emergency rooms and hospitals lately. I did call my family doctor today and have an appointment to see him tomorrow just because this was such a bad fall and did a lot of damage. Plus, I may need to get put on some antibiotics for that deep tear/cut at the base of my toe.
You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d say I was cursed!! If I had been careless it would have been one thing, but I took several safety precautions as I endeavored to save our cherry crop. Who could plan on the old ladder just decideing to break. The greatest safety tip I tell everyone is NEVER EVER climb a ladder or swim when there is no one else around. This time that safety tip surely saved me big time.
Moral of this story: “A bird in the hand (or prevented from your cherries) may NOT be worth it!!”
Prayer requests: for those of you who follow me regularly, (1) Pain to ease (2) I have an EEG already scheduled at the hospital for Friday (3) I cannot use my crutches to stay off my left foot to heal because my left wrist and shoulder and collar bone area are all swollen/bruised.
After all of this, I was a bit upset to see that my husband took down the cover net I had already placed halfway on the tree. So the robins have free rain of my cherries again : ( Oh well, they need to eat too I guess.