My health issues are nothing compared to many of you. Although I have had my share of pain, my condition is not life threatening, nor has it prevented me from returning to doing daily activities for myself, or working part-time as a nurse. My issues are nothing compared to what many have endured.
No matter the level of suffering, though, God cares.
When I was in my twenties, I was the picture of athleticism: energetic, agile and fit. My physical capabilities included jogging, aerobics, snow skiing, high altitude backpacking, swimming, and tennis. Although not as strong as some, I could nevertheless keep up with most.
Confident in my strength, I concluded that it would always be so. I was wrong.
It was also in my twenties that I first noticed signs of what was the beginning of an early onset of severe degenerative disc disease. Since my symptoms did not fit the mold, by presenting with typical radiating nerve pain, my associated sciatica went wrongly diagnosed until I reached my forties. All those years, my doctors just thought that the reason I had to suspend my left foot off of a pillow at night, to avoid anything touching my heel due to the pain, was that there was either an undetected disorder with my foot or I was suffering from a depression that kept me awake.
It was not until I also began having back pain simultaneously with the foot pain that I pieced the puzzle together myself. Someone finally believed me when, during a Discogram procedure, I nearly came off the table after “one drop of dye” was inserted into a lumbar disc. I felt the classic shooting sensation as the fiery pain tracked right across the same spot that had hurt for years.
The difference in the pain was that it no longer just interfered with my sleep; the unrelenting sciatic pain had begun altering my life. Unable to do any of the enjoyable athletic pursuits anymore, I was also increasingly impaired in my ability to do ordinary tasks. After 12 hour shifts at the hospital, I almost needed to crawl to my car, and I spent my time off recuperating.
The pain eventually backed me into a corner. I had prayed, and God promised me healing. That healing, though, came by way of three excruciating surgeries to free the pressure off a trapped sciatic nerve. Each procedure caused an already irritated nerve to surge to about a quadruple pain level, and required about six months to return to a “recovery” level. My painful surgical ordeal consumed three years of my life, but the journey from my former strength into the pain occupied many more, and in a different way, continues today.
Tomorrow, I will continue my physical pain story. Of my journey through the pain.
For more of this story, see A Painful Saga