Sunday, October 31, 2010

Faith and Healing. Do you dare to question God?

There comes a point in the life of those who suffer from chronic pain or illnesses where you begin to question God. Why do I have to endure this constant trial while others around me can enjoy good health? You wonder if God is punishing you for past iniquity or has God just abandoned you? Does God heal those whose faith remains strong through the tribulations of life and then turn a quiet ear to those whose faith falters under the habitual struggle that preys upon the mind and body of those with chronic pain. And you know in your heart that our Lord is a loving God who doesn’t want you to languish and your place is not to question, but even though you try not to, you just can’t help asking the ultimate question; “Why me?”

Speaking with a voice of one who has suffered for over 25 years, I can tell you that my faith has vacillated from strong and lifted up to dangling precariously over the precipice. As I cry out to our Lord for healing and restoration and then nothing improves, I find myself doubting the strength of my faith. Would God heal me, once and for all, if I only had the amount of faith that could move a pebble? And when I find myself weary of my own questions and exhausted from the fusion of rejection, worry, and self-doubt, I come to the Father on my knees and ask forgiveness. He is there, with open arms awaiting my return and I find myself comforted in His embrace, His love, and His benevolence. It’s called grace.

God hears our cries and He answers prayers. Our prayer has to be in alignment with His will for our lives and if it is, He will grant our deepest desires and wishes. His plan for our lives is higher than we can see. But there are times when we are reading the Bible, desperately trying to understand just what His perfect will is for our lives, when we have an epiphany that stops us in utter amazement and we know just what God is trying to tell us.

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  
2 Corinthians 12:9

Friday, October 29, 2010

Depression and Chronic Pain; Can you ever really conquer it?

Hello Fellow Pain Patients,

Just like my character in the book, "Heal me, Mend me, Use me, Send me," I too suffer from recurring bouts of depression.  You would think that after what is now 27 years of living with chronic pain that I could avoid the deep, dark drop into depression, but it still hits. And it hits when I least expect it!

The negative questions start to rise up like a volcano.
  •  Will I ever get better than this?
  • Does God even listen to my same old prayer anymore?
  • Why did God leave me this way?
  • What did I do wrong to cause my life of chronic pain?
  • What if God does not heal me?
  • How do I live forever like this?
  • Why would my husband want to stay with a woman who is damaged?
  • This is not fair to me or to my husband and he is better off without me!
  • God, if you are going to leave me this way, why won’t you take me home?

These thoughts are a trap that leads straight to depression, more physical pain, and then ever increasing emotional pain followed by a loss of self-esteem. I start to push my husband away from me as the irrational, cynical, and mocking voice inside my head repeats all these questions as if they are affirmations of my real life. And just when I push him to the brink, I realize that he loves me enough to stay with me through the battles of living with chronic pain and I come home to that sweet place where I am loved. I am amazed by the depth of my husband’s love and I am so blessed that this bond is stronger than me.

And through my tears I cry out to God for forgiveness of my doubting that He loves me and He cares for me. God does have a higher plan for my life even though I can’t see beyond the pain. And He forgives me for not trusting Him to carry me through this ordeal and the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, covers me and I am made whole again.

My mind, body, and spirit are exhausted. I find rest in the Lord and the strength to go on through another day knowing that my chronic pain is on the cusp of improvement. I can wait. I can be patient. I know that God will answer my prayers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Recovering my health; continuing the challenge!

Hello all,
Now that it is a week post-procedure from the radiofrequency ablation lesioning, I am starting to see the improvement. Overall, the pain in my shoulders has been reduced although I am still experiencing acute pain in my left shoulder blade. The RA procedure on my left side was done 3 weeks ago. I was told years ago that the nerve that was compromised by a large osteophyte at the C5 level was permanently damaged, so that may be the continual problem.

 Have you ever heard of a surgeon leaving a spur inside a fusion? The surgeon explained his theory that the fusion would reduce the motion and irritation on the nerve so that it would heal, but the spur was narrowing the foraminal opening too much for healing to ever occur! This was a case where the "ego" of the orthopedic spinal surgeon overtook reasoning, the Hippocratic oath, and regard for the welfare and outcome of the patient. Remember the term, "Physician, Do No Harm!"

Please seek out multiple opinions before consenting to surgery. Many orthopedic surgeons specialize in spinal surgery and classify themselves as "spinal surgeons", but patient beware! If you have a complicated case, it will require the expertise of a neurosurgeon who specializes in spinal surgery. This was my greatest mistake. Thank God that I found an excellent neurosurgeon who was able to remove the spur by doing a foraminotomy. Even though I improved from that surgery, I was left with permanent damage at this level.

I had my first treatment with radiofrequency ablation lesioning over a year ago which included C2, C3, C4, and C5 levels. Unfortunately, not even this procedure seems to stop this problem. The chronic widespread pain in my shoulders and neck does seem to be improving with the exception of my left scapula. It is like envisioning a knife that is stuck in my shoulder blade. So I guess I am not ready to reduce my levels of Embeda (morphine sulfate) again. I have a feeling that I am heading for my third radiofrequency ablation procedure that will be performed within a two month period of time.

When you have spinal degenerative disease in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar portions of the spine, it becomes a challenge to control pain. It seems that the pain has a will of its own and it moves just like that game where you stomp the little mole when it comes up. It always pops up somewhere else!

  • Mind: positive thoughts!
    •  I will overcome this pain and as I read my first sentence again, I agree that it is improving!
  • Body: exercise and following physician directives!
    • Although exercising through pain is difficult, I will keep going. I am starting to enjoy the Sit and Be Fit shows regardless of the benefits.
    • There are benefits to exercise.
    • Walking is getting easier and I can walk through the shoulder pain.
    • Ice is my best friend!
  • Spirit: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
    • There is a purpose to my life.
    • I have written a novel about my illness that will proclaim God's glory
    • I am loved!
Have a Blessed Day!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Radiofrequency Ablation Cervical Thoracic Spine: 2 steps forward and 1 step back!

Hello fellow chronic pain followers,

Ok, I know there are no followers, but I can be hopeful! After all, I have to be hopeful about something! It has now been 5 days since my radiofrequency ablation procedure and just when I was feeling better and getting around more, it hit again! The return of horrible, horrendous pain! My pain is caused by spasms that start in my neck and move upward to produce a hideous headache that can not be stopped by medication. The only thing that seems to help is packing my neck and head in ice packs and firm pressure with my fingers on the base of my skull. This lessons the pain but as soon as I "defrost", the pain returns.

Does anyone else have experiences like these? Is anyone there?

My husband says that I am always in a bad mood, always complaining and God knows, I am trying to climb out of that deep dark tunnel of pain. But he is right, I am always down, always sad that my life has been destroyed by pain and whenever things start to improve, I get shoved back down. Chronic pain has destroyed every relationship I have ever tried to have and the worst part of it is that I am the one who has allowed my pain to have control over me and my relationships.

Is another marriage going to evaporate? He gets angry when I keep things from him, but then tells me that I am negative when I tell him the truth on how I really feel and what is happening to me. How do I fix this?

Is life supposed to be this hard all the time? It has been over 25 years of this chronic pain! And when I say that I can't take it anymore, I know that I can. I can because God is there with me, He is for me, and I am never alone! Thank you Lord Jesus because without you, I would have given up!

Help me Lord to just make it through another day and please help me carry the physical and emotional pain of living with a chronic condition that has no end in sight!

I can do all things through Christ which
strengtheneth me.  Phillipians 4:13

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chronic pain no longer controls my life!

Hello world,

Well, I missed one day of blogging and I guess it was a good thing! It should have been the best day of the week, Sunday, a day of rest and a day to be in the Father's house but it was not. It turned out to become a terrible day!

So today I will pray more for Jesus to break those chains that control my life!  My 2 year escalation of my chronic pain has left me desperately out of shape and I gained 40 pounds too! This had done nothing but lower my self esteem from someone who is suffering from feeling like less of a person because I have lost the ability to work to someone who is no longer attractive and no longer healthy in any way.

Oh people say, just go on a diet and exercise and you will lose the weight that you have gained. Sure, the diet part is actually pretty easy, it's the exercise that remains a challenge! I have exercised faithfully for many years; aerobics, running, walking, biking, swimming, tennis, weights, and numerous gym memberships. But now the ability to really exercise to control my weight and furthermore, effectively reduce, has been lost!

So I will pray and be thankful that I can do my "Sit and Be Fit" senior show (EVEN THOUGH I AM NOT A SENIOR AND IT HURTS!). I will continue to take my gentle walks in my neighborhood, take my medications, and cuddle with my best friend, my "ice pack" several times a day! I will pray to be set "free" from this chronic pain and to be set free from the devastating low self esteem it brings!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Healing begins 3 days post radiofrequency ablation lesioning

Hello fellow pain patients,
I feel better today! My pain level has dropped some. I am hoping to continue my progress so that I could eventually start to decrease my pain medications.  The procedure appears to be a success even though I am still struggling with painful muscle spasms. If I could ever get past the pain in my shoulder blade (scapula) that feels like a knife, my quality of life would improve.

CHRIST is Living Water!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I am Blessed!!

Hello fellow pain patients,

I feel blessed today because I am feeling better! I am still very sore from the radiofrequency ablation procedure but gentle movement of my shoulders, arms, and hands makes it feel somewhat better today. With God all things are possible and He is faithful and true! His promises are something that we can be sure of!

Isaiah wrote about the savior in the old testament before Christ was born as a man. It is promised that "By His Stripes, we are healed!

Today I am thankful to the Lord that I didn't have any complications at all. Today I am thankful that I have another chance to praise His name.  Just like the book I wrote, He will Heal me. He has already mended my spirit and He will Use me and Send me when my book is published. I will start telling you more about that process as it goes along. The book goes into the publication process in Dec, 2010.

Pray for me and I will pray for you!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Post Radiofrequency ablation lesioning

Hello all,

I had my RA procedure yesterday on C6-T1, three levels.  I am very blessed to have a wonderful physician. The procedure went well and I am experiencing post procedure soreness today although there is very little bruising. So,  I am taking it easy.
  • Mind- positive thoughts that this will work to reduce or eliminate muscle spasms
  • Body- I completed gentle range of motion exercises and a slow walk to the end of the block.
  • Spirit- thank you Lord for keeping me safe in your arms!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Today is the Day! Procedure Day! Radiofrequency ablation lesioning

Hello Fellow Patients,

I am a little nervous today! I don't like more pain than I already live with!  The procedure is no so bad once you get past the needles to numb everything, it is not that painful, but afterwards it is painful for me. I seem to have good and very bad days with spasms after any procedures on my neck. I wish there was a way to reduce the spasms.

Muscle relaxers work but unfortunately, I can't take them without too many side effects that out way the positive effect. 

Anyone out there having a procedure today?

  •  Things will go well today!
  • I did gentle exercise today along with a nice slow walk which felt good!
  • God calms all my fears; He is always with me and has the best plans for me!
Pray for me. I would love to hear from you so that I may pray for you too!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cervical-thoracic radiofrequency ablation lesioning

Hello brothers and sisters,

Well, it's the same old, same old thing! I started to increase my activities by walking and doing the sit and be fit show and I started to improve and feel just a little better. But as it always happens, the increase of activity starts spasms in my upper back and neck followed by pain at the base of my skull and before long, the "Headache" begins!

Two steps forward~~~three steps back!! 

What is really discouraging is that the pain is on the left side, the side that had Cervical-thoracic radiofrequency ablation lesioning  2 weeks ago! I am scheduled to have it again tomorrow on the right side and although I am not looking forward to the actual procedure, I was hoping to achieve some lasting improvement. But with the reoccurance of increasing spasms and pain, I am discouraged!

Ok, enough of that!  It is time to follow the Lord!

Positive thinking!! This will get better and the procedure will eventually improve!  I had graduated to 2 hours of activity followed by rest and ice applied to my neck and back (every 2 hrs). So, I go back to 45 minutes of activity followed by 15 minutes of ice (every hour on the hour). Hey, it's worth it to decrease the spasms!

Body:  I will try a gentle walk today only if I can break the spasms and headache. I will not push beyond my ability!

Spirit: This picture says it all for me today!
So today I wait upon the Lord for His special touch and healing.

Please let me hear from you. I am sure that you need as much encouragement as I do!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Radiofrequency Ablation

Hello out there! I am having radiofrequency ablation for my neck/back (C6, C7, T1). Has anyone else out there had this done?  How long did it take you to recover from the procedure? Did it work for you? 

I had my first one about 2 weeks ago and it was unpleasant but not extremely painful. I am blessed with a very good rehabiliation and pain management physician, Dr Daniel Bender.

Well, today I was able to walk again and do the show again. If you are disabled and trying to regain some movement or strength, this is an excellent exercise show to attempt. The exercise in a chair is extremely helpful and for me, who really benefits from just increasing the range of motion, this has been a good place to start.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Follow the Lord!

Hello Fellow Pain Patients!
Unfortunately, it has been another very difficult day. I felt angry today. Angry that I am in pain. Angry that I am disabled and angry that I feel so bad about myself. I miss my job terribly. I miss be a productive person and I miss doing whatever I want to do. 

So what am I going to do?  Get going on the mind, body and spirit!
Mind- no more stinking thinking today! I am scheduled to have another radiofrequency ablation on Wed and I am NOT looking forward to it even though I have a great physician, Dr. Daniel Bender.
Body- I took a slow paced walk today and it did feel good. I am feeling bad about myself because I have gained too much weight over the last 2 years of this disability. So at least I can try and lose 40 lbs to feel better
Spirit- I prayed that God would give me courage and strength to overcome. God never said He would keep us from these trials, but He would never ever leave us alone.

Tomorrow will be a better day with God's help!

Let me hear from you. How are you coping?  Who is your physician?  What have you tried?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Conquering Chronic Pain through The Lord

Hello Fellow Pain Patients.

I woke up in pain. My left shoulder and arm hurt this morning. I had radiofrequency ablation done on my left side at the C6, C7, and T1 levels on October 6, 2010. The pain has reduced some on my left side but is ever so present every minute of the day. By 8:00am I was reaching for my medication and I took 400 mg of Gabapentin (Neurontin) and 30mg of Embeda (morphine sulfate). I decided to go for a walk even though I was in pain. I have to start somewhere on this journey back although I really didn't want to go. I walked for 12 minutes. It is a start. 

I then started a DVR of a show called Sit and Be Fit. My husband walked into the room while I was attempting to exercise and I turned the TV off abrupty.  Why? I was embarrassed! I was trying to exercise while sitting in a chair to a show that features seniors. I'm not that old and I didn't want my husband to think of me as an old woman.  Oh, this is the "Stinking Thinking" that I have to work on. So what! Just because I can't exercise like a normal person or the way that I used to before my disability took control of my life is no reason to quit or become embarrassed.

So what did I do next? I went into another room of my home and cried. I cried because of what I couldn't do instead of focusing on the positives. I can walk today! I can sit and exercise a little today! I am alive today! Ok, no more of the stinky thoughts today! Tomorrow will be a better day! I pray that my pain will decrease some more tomorrow. I pray that I will not have to increase my medications since one of my goals is to live a life free of pain medication. I pray for strength to make it through a day without crumbling into tears. I am so blessed by God. I thank God for my blessings and the things that I can still do and I thank Him for my healing. I know it will come!

In the book of Matthew in the New King James Bible, Jesus tells us,
"And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

But just because we ask God for something and believe He is going to give it to us, dosen't mean that God is going to automatically give it to us. It has to be inline with God's perfect will for our lives.  God is faithful and He has good plans for my life.

I made it through the today. God granted me peace today and I am thankful for that. I will rest easy tonight even though I have pain. I will not have to endure it tonight. It just exists for now.