This is a small glimpse into the life lived in chronic pain.
This is a very hard post for me to write, because I am going to be vulnerable. I am usually fairly private and keep my chronic illness limited to family and close friends. But, it is time to spread the word so others might be encouraged.
Eight years ago, when I was 38 years old, through a series of odd complications I was diagnosed by blood tests with Rheumatoid Arthritis. At that same time, the doctor also diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. It was one of the hardest years I’ve ever been through. I had to quit my job because I could no longer perform it, and I was trying new medicines that were failing me time after time. I finally got a second opinion. This new doctor uncovered things about me that the old doctor had not picked up on at all. Again, more medications were tried, and failed.
It seemed everything was just spiraling downward, because it was, literally! I got psoriasis from one of the medications meant to help my RA. I had degenerated discs in both my neck and back. I had both shoulders and both knees operated on over that eight-year period due to arthritis. My knees have degenerative osteoarthritis. My hips hurt, my muscles hurt, and my lower legs hurt from neuropathy. My hands, wrists, and elbows hurt from the RA. I have arthritis in my feet, too. I have Sjrogrens. This is what chronic pain looks like to me, every day.
Yes, I’ve tried the diets. Yes, I’ve tried juicing. There isn’t much I haven’t tried; when you are in this much pain you will try almost anything for relief.
What happens on a daily basis? I’m afraid to move too much because I already hurt so badly. But, I need to exercise. I have to cancel plans frequently because I feel too bad or too wiped out to do the task or even to go out for fun. I feel I can’t be depended on, and I hate to feel that way. I am a loyal friend and want to come through for people. I have to let that go.
Days are often spent with heating pads or ice packs on me, trying to get the pain under control. I have been through deep depression and feelings of hopelessness, but also feelings of great encouragement when I see how God takes care of the details of my life. When I am feeling well, I treasure the time with sweet friends and family.
I have learned to take care of myself, but this didn’t happen overnight. My family is so incredible, they are just too golden for words. My husband is one of the most precious, godly men you will meet. He makes sure I am taking care of myself, even if that means giving something else up. My children have basically grown up under this illness, and they are two of the most thoughtful people I know, always asking how I am feeling and checking on me. That is a huge blessing. I also have a few friends who deal with chronic pain, so we are able to encourage one another.
I have learned to daily get my strength from the Lord God alone. I cannot do this on my own, and from my experience, you will save yourself a lot of unnecessary suffering if you will just go straight to God with your dependence.
One of my favorite books I’ve read is by Joni Eareckson Tada, called A Place of Healing. It deals with the questions surrounding why we may or may not be healed this side of heaven. One of my favorite quotes in the book is this:
The truth is, in this world it’s a 100 percent guarantee that we will suffer. But at the same time, Jesus Christ is 100 percent certain to meet us, encourage us, comfort us, grace us with strength and perseverance, and yes, even restore joy in our lives. Your Savior is 100 percent certain to be with you through every challenge.
I think that sums it up so well. He will be with us no matter what phase of life we are in. Are you struggling intensely? He is there. Are you having an “easy” phase of life right now? REJOICE! He is there! Are you somewhere in the middle? He is there, ready to meet you right where you are. There is no place we can go where He cannot reach us.
I don’t know the path God has for me tomorrow, but I know I just have to take one day at a time and lean into Him. I don’t understand all the medical mysteries of the world, but they are there. I know I am to give thanks in all circumstances, and some days that is harder than other days. I am just grateful that He is right there with me. He is right there with you, too.