In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Well, people . . . I finally got an MRI on January 14th.  On January 15th, I came home to about 5 urgent messages to call the doctor back.  I knew my pain was bad, but I wasn't expecting to hear that I needed to have surgery ASAP.  Back surgery!!!!  What???? The diagnosis sounded quite grim, with words like, "you only see reports like this in the elderly."  I've been telling everyone that I feel like a 99 year old, and now I had the medical report to back it up.  That was very scary to hear.  Sitting on my couch, with no husband to call, I suddenly felt that familiar feeling of, "how can I do this life, without my person?"  In those few minutes, God did not feel big enough to cover this pain, or this diagnosis.  So, I did what I usually do. I threw out a token prayer and then I put out an APB to my lifeline people, (minus a few, because I was in such a panic).  As usual, my friends leapt into action and within minutes I was in the car to see two different professionals, with friends by my side.  A chiropractor that specializes in disc treatments and a former, highly respected back surgeon that was willing to meet with me in his own home that very night. 

Upon arrival at the chiropractors office, we handed him the disc of my MRI and he slid it into the computer and then bellowed, "WOW! That is definitely in the top 5 worst I've ever seen."  But he didn't stop there.  "Did you get hit by a bus, or jump out of a plane without a parachute."  Holding back tears, I replied, "This isn't helping! I don't even know how this happened, except that I am taking care of my three little kids by myself."  Then the tears came.  Over the next hour, I grilled him, as to what kind of success he has had with decompression therapy and, naturally, he found the results to be quite compelling.  I will say that his cavalier attitude was almost reassuring.  I was thinking, that surely he wouldn't be joking about this, if he didn't think I could ever recover.  

Then, it was on to the back surgeon's house.  He was so encouraging and gave me some solid direction of what action to take or not take. He listened for a while to get the history of my pain and encouraged me to get prepared for surgery, but to try and avoid it, if at all possible.  Basically, if I pee on myself or lose control of my bowels, then I should make haste and get to the OR immediately for surgery.  So, talk about lowering your standards in life. Since, January 15th, my mantra has been, "Every day that I don't pee on myself, is a good day."  So, the good news is, that I have now have had 29 good days in a row!  

I started the decompression therapy, which I know some people have their suspicions about. However, I heard about it from my friend, Julie, who heard about it from Marijah, who does my hair, whose husband was in dire straits with his pain and this pretty much cured him.  Did you get all that?  I figured the only risk is a hefty chunk of change, so I may as well give it the old college try.  So, if this works, Jimmy, then I am forever grateful to you, and the pain you endured will have had purpose in helping me!  It seems to be helping so far!?!   

I go 2-3 times per week. Most people go 17-20 times, but the good doctor told me, it will probably take  close to 40 treatments for me.  I've always said, "Go big or go home." Anyway, It has become a treasured time for me.  I lie down on this giant machine for 28 minutes and the machine basically stretches out my spine, which will hopefully, allow my disc to find it's way back to it's little home.  PLEASE JESUS!  It actually feels really good and it allows me 28 minutes of time to listen to worship music and to pray for others that I know are in some serious physical pain.  Julie, Mike, Brian, Kara, me, and whoever is laying on the other machine next to me.  I would love to pray for more of you who are in pain, so please let me know!  

 ***Sidebar*** The other day, I was lying on the machine praying for the giant, tattooed, rather large bellied, scruffy faced patient and I felt like God was telling me to tell him that I was praying for him.  I am a self proclaimed, rarely hear from God, gal.  I really didn't want to say anything, but when I knew I wouldn't be in there much longer and I knew a quick escape would be possible, if things got really awkward, I said, "Uh um.  I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for your back."  He said, "What?"  Of course, after all that work up, I had to say it again, but louder.  "I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for your back."  Then he said, "Thank you - I pray for everyone that comes in here, because I know what kind of pain everyone is in."  I thought that I was going to be the one that encouraged someone, but it was the other way around.  I began to wonder how many of us that darken that little office are praying for each other, because it is no secret, that where there is pain, there is prayer.  We so desperately want healing.

***Double Sidebar*** A fairly sizable back brace accompanies this treatment, so if you have seen me and you are wondering why I look like a linebacker lately, that is the reason.  

It just amazes me that in the middle of this awfulness, I get excited to go to decompression therapy to pray.  I know that I wouldn't feel this way, if I were still in the same degree of pain that I was in, in December.  I am positive my despair would be deep, but today, I am standing in the hope (most days) that someday soon, I'll be able to put my own socks on.  I'm sure my kids feel the same way. 

One more thought on all this craziness.  I think grief and physical pain like this have some real parallels:  

You never choose it.

You can't hurry through it.

You can find ways to take the edge off, but it is still there.

It weaves it's way through every step and every breath.

It is a solo battle.  Even as others do an amazing job of supporting, you alone, feel the direct pain.

So, in trying to use what I have learned through grief to help in my physical pain journey, I went back to day two after Dave's death.  The only piece of advice that I remember from the days surrounding Dave's death, was that my only job, was to surrender it all.  Just surrender where you are to Jesus.  That is all I could do with this pain.  "Jesus, here I am, hurting. (This is after many weeks of mostly griping and begging, mind you).  Please, do something good with it, and please, please, please, please, heal me."  And then I wait to see what He is going to do.  My limited words are making this sound easy, but I can assure you, I don't want it to sound that way.  I have had to give up so many things that I love to do.  Shoveling snow, scooping poop, picking up toys off the floor.  Oh wait - wrong list.  I miss skiing, running, working out, putting clothes on like a normal human, standing for longer than 5 minutes in one spot, slouching in a chair, playing volleyball, picking up my kids, bending down to hear their secrets, giving them a hug without having to get in a strategic position, etc. . . I miss it all, but at the end of the day, I have hope that I will one day do those things again and that whether I see it or not, there is purpose in this pain.  And in the meantime, I pray, that I pray the guts out of other peoples' pain and I pray they find supernatural healing.  Wouldn't that be awesome?!?!?!?!


Bart Stokes said...

You're a fighter! Plain and simple. Wherever you've been assaulted I see you dusting yourself off and getting up again. It's amazing. No matter what comes at you remember that if someone were to tell you your own story a few years ago that your heart would first break... then you would admire the strength and courage of such a warrior wondering how they could keep going. You are that person to all of us that you share your life with. I honor not only your courage but the love you pour out when bitterness would love nothing more than to consume you! You are a champion! You are an overcomer! You are a precious child of God that makes her heavenly Father smile regardless of the challenges that this short life brings. If you can get through this the challenges in my life are a breeze in comparison. I decree a new season of strength, peace and health to you and each of your beautiful children. I bind up the spirits of sickness and health (Matt 18:18) in your family and release the treasures of heaven to pour down upon you as the presence of God overwhelms you!
You... Are... Amazing!

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love. You are one strong, bad-ass, prayer warrior of an awesome friend! Love you.

hollysue said...

Wow Bart! Those were powerful words to hear. Thank you. I'm left a little teary, but in a good way. Thank you, again.

Alan Abraham said...
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Anonymous said...

Holly, I feel so deeply for you and ALL of the different kinds of pain you are feeling. I can relate to what it's like to lose the ability to play the sports you love and to exercise in the ways that make you feel alive. Back issues and various other surgeries have taken me down hard. Mind you, I've got my BAD days, but in the end, I know that God has a purpose for even this, and that's really the only thing that gets me through those desperate days. Please know that we continue to pray for you and please know that God is using you in the midst of your turmoil. I love that you're battling the ugliness of pain with the beauty of prayer. There's still fight in you!!

Anonymous said...

"Surrender where you are to Jesus" thank you - needed this