It is the last sentence that I want to highlight: "I don't know what the alternative is, but I might find out." Find out, I did. It turns out, the alternative is, an ambulance has to come and get you off the floor and take you to the hospital. I could not have made these things up about my life, if I tried. So, here is the ridiculous story that started last Wednesday.
I had just finished taking Spencer to his year end parent teacher conference. We returned home for the official start of summer break. We were home for all of about 5 minutes, when I bent/squatted down to look at one of my dear cherubs in the eye. In mid squat, I crumpled to the ground in severe pain. Fortunately, I had my phone on my person and I scrolled through the first group text I could find and pleaded, "Someone Come Now Help." I didn't even know who was receiving this SOS. My kids started doing chores that they had never asked to do before and probably will never ask to do again, in attempt to do anything that could help their groaning mommy. Not long after, my sweet peeps started arriving, phone calls were being made and plans were getting drawn. It wasn't until I discovered that there was no possible way on this green earth I could go to the bathroom in the appropriate place, that I was in serious trouble. I literally couldn't move an inch without excruciating pain. I couldn't crawl, I couldn't stand, I couldn't sit and I couldn't even shimmy across the floor. I could only lay on my back, with my left leg in the air. After my attempt to get to the bathroom failed miserably, the only option was to have the paramedics come. I cringe every time I think about them coming. There is this nagging little voice that keeps telling me that it is embarrassing that I had to go by ambulance. Everyone is tempted to say, "you shouldn't be embarrassed," but I bet a whole lot of you know that deep in your thought bank, you might be the tiniest bit embarrassed, too.
Anyway, they gave me a very special drug called Fentinol. It was beautiful. I wish that was available on the open market. However, it only lasts about 20 minutes. For the next two days, I was in the hospital, just trying to get ahead of the pain. I did manage to get some cortisone shots a week early and they did give me some relief from the knee up, but from the knee down, it was another story. It gave me increased pain, loss of feeling in my foot and loss of strength in my leg, to the point of falling over when I tried to stand the first time. It was another "what in the world?" moment. I feel like I could write a book called, "What in the World?" and each chapter could describe each little story, where life should get easier, and it only gets harder.
The night I got the shots was a definite all time low. After countless months of pain and trying to push through it, I literally had nothing left to muster. I wanted to give up. I don't even know what I wanted to give up on, but I just wanted to give up.
That night, nobody was slated to spend the night in my little hospital room with no extra place to sleep. I had flown solo for a few hours the night previous, so I thought I could make it again. God knew better. At about seven or eight at night, two friends, Liz and Brooke, came to visit me. I was OK for a while, but as night came closer, my pain did the same. The nurse was giving me the max amount of morphine, etc. . . , but I just wasn't responding. At one point, Liz suggested maybe just putting some pressure on me to distract my brain from the pain. It helped slightly, but I needed more. So, I asked her, if it wouldn't be too weird, if she could just lay in my bed with me and rub my back. So, hour after long hour, Brooke, Liz and later Christina, gave me the sacrificial gift of just being by me. They gave up their sleep to take turns rubbing my back and just being close to me. Every time I think of it, I cry. I don't know why I'm so emotional about it? In those dark dark hours, I really didn't feel like I was going to make it. I really didn't. In the morning, I told them that I seriously felt like they had saved my life. That sounds so over the top dramatic, but it is how I felt and still feel. Upon recounting that story to another friend, she started talking about how little preemie babies need touch more than anything else, to help them survive. I was like that (super cute) preemie little baby. I needed touch and my body needed to know that someone was there and that I was loved. I will forever be struck with the truth that a friend to love me and be close to me was far more effective than high powered narcotics. Even though, I am always asking where God is, throughout these long months, there are these little moments where I feel like God is so present. He knew I needed someone (somethree) that night and that I needed their touch. I want to take this moment to say that I am thankful for the most amazing friends in the world. I'm so indebted every single one of them.
In the morning Nurse Ratched (actually she was a doctor) pretended to care how I was doing, so I expressed my worries over never walking again, and she replied, "Only time will tell," and then she said, "smile," as if this answer shouldn't disturb me on any level. I then used that weak leg to kick her in the shins! Just kidding, but I sure wanted to.
By the afternoon, I was breaking records with my newly purchased walker and so they sent me home. Trepidatiously, I left the morphine giving walls of the hospital and have pretty much laid in bed until my appointment this morning, for fear that any other sudden movement might catapult me right back into the swinging doors of an ambulance. The appointment today pretty much confirmed my suspicions of setting a date for surgery, which is what I think I need. Next Tuesday, I will go in for surgery on my lowest disc. So, I return to my knees and beg again for healing and a successful surgery.
My mind is a battlefield right now. I'm desperately trying to hold the line right now. I am reading, "Walking Through Pain and Suffering," by Tim Keller, which is helping me to hold that line.
Third, we learn that it is perhaps when we are still in unrelenting darkness that we have the greatest opportunity to defeat the forces of evil. In the darkness we have a choice that is not really there in better times. We can choose to serve God just because he is God. In the darkest moments we feel we are getting absolutely nothing out of God or out of our relationship to Him. But what if then-when it does not seem to be paying or benefiting you at all-you continue to obey, pray to, and seek God, as well as continue to do your duties of love to others? If we do that-we are finally learning to love God for himself, and not for his benefits.
And when the darkness lifts or lessens, we will find that our dependence on other things besides God for our happiness has shrunk, and that we have new strength and contentment in God himself. We'll find a new fortitude, unflappability, poise, and peace in the face of difficulty. The coal is becoming diamond.