April 26, 2014

Present Pain

I had major surgery on my neck last Monday. After a couple nights in the hospital, I came home Wednesday. It's good to be home, but nothing about life is the same. Pain is high, and my pride is taking a beating in all areas of my life. I can't lift more than five pounds, I can't drive, and there's a problem with my right arm that makes it nearly impossible to do anything without my left hand helping.

Waking up is hard, since it means facing high pain and no comfortable position (at least, until my medications start to kick in). This morning I was struggling at 1:30, 3:15, and again at 4:20.

We usually think of pain as a nuisance or inconvenience or, at worst, an obstacle to outlast or overcome. This kind of pain isn't like that. This is the kind of pain that makes every aspect of life into 'now.' What am I able to do in this moment? What am I trying to fight through right now? Can I last through what's happening now? What sorts of tasks or activities are possible this minute? Should I ask for help to pick up this cup now, or should I be pushing myself further into pain in order to recover? I'm having to find new ways of doing everything, from putting on a jacket to putting my hair up in a simple ponytail. I never would have considered such things a triumph before this week.

I've received amazing support from family and friends, care packages that have made me cry, and a wonderful phone call today from a long-time friend of the heart. I told her my frustrations about being denied all my usual means of passing time. Pain and lack of energy prevent walks, exercise, gardening, writing, and worst of all, my brain is so distracted by pain that I can't focus enough to read, either. I told her I was having a hard time just sitting in a chair or lying in bed with nothing to do but try to focus past the pain. My good friend encouraged me to picture myself being held in the protective arms of God through all this, and that thought has given me good mulling material the last hour.

If I had a small child with limited understanding who was greatly hurt and in on-going pain, I as a parent would be holding her as often as she'd let me. I'd never let her out of my sight, and every choice I made would be one that allowed me to drop everything if she needed me. I picture a small infant, old enough to sit up, but not old enough to talk, cradled safely in her parent's arms, watching the world in her wounded state from that impenetrable haven.

These thoughts don't change my circumstances. I'm still in pain. I still don't have any clue what anything beyond 'now' looks like. But it makes all the difference in the world to know that so many battles in front of me are not for me to fight. My Abba fights for me, and his arms tighten around me in comfort when he sees my pain increase.

For today, this is grace that is sufficient for me.

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