Friday, February 12, 2010

Another turn...

We had a visit with the neurosurgeon to go over my husband's MRI results a couple days ago. The doctor's take on what he saw was that even though Bob has eleven damaged disks, that while there might be some back pain, it is not the cause of his debilitating, chronic pain. He believes there is something else going on. His suggestion was to see a immunologist. It could be an auto-immune/musculoskeletel issue. So we are back at square one.

I cannot tell you how utterly agonizing this is not only to, after three years and several different ideas of what might be wrong, to be back at not knowing. We've been fighting discouragement since we left the doctors office. The idea of it being an auto-immune issue scares me to death. From what I know (which could be potentially dangerous), an auto-immune disease is definitely not a good thing. I felt better with it being a back issue.

The other frustrating aspect of this is that it's been three years and the doctors still don't know what is wrong. This just goes to show you that sometimes our bodies even stump the doctors. Sometimes, it is simply a process of elimination, to find out the answer which takes time. So my husband remains to be a mystery even to the highly educated doctors. I knew he was special!

On the way home from the doctors appointment, Bob kept asking me so where do we go from here. The answer to that is to keep praying, keep holding on to the hope of Christ and His promises and to go see the immunologist. It's step one. Then we go from day at a time.

The discouragement is devastating. It is hanging around my head like a little black rain cloud. I'm refusing to completely give into it but I can feel it threatening to overtake me. I do find it amazing that for the past few days, I keep hearing sermons and words of encouragement from people to be relentless, to never give up. I know that God is trying to tell me something and I need to listen up.

It has been so difficult to face the realities of what is going on. I know that my husband has struggled with the aspect of not being able to provide for us, to watch our family struggle with what is going on, to know that the things you use to be able to do now are impossible or are extremely difficult. I am amazed at what he does accomplish when he is able as he refuses to become a vegetable lying on the couch. However, some days it is quite an accomplishment to just get off the couch and get to the restroom. Our whole world has been turned upside down. The things that were once are no more and we struggle, as do our children, with the unknown....will we be able to again? That is a question I can't answer and it makes me sad.

How do people deal with debilitation? One day you are functioning at full force and the next, a broken individual whether it be a car accident, a stroke, a heart attack or some other health issue. We just do not know what will happen from one day to the next. We have to place our trust in God and to never give up our faith in Him even in the face of the unknown. Without God, you will get swallowed up in the hopelessness of the situation which in my opinion, is worse than the condition itself. Hang on to hope, the hope of Christ.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

We have seen God's promises revealed in our own lives time and time again. I cannot say it enough...that HE will do as HE promised. You may have to wait on HIS timing and that is sometimes difficult but well worth the wait. Do not loose hope. He's got us in the palm of his hand and has a plan for us even in this seemingly impossible situation.

So...even in the face of the unknown and in this place that seems so overwhelmingly impossible, we continue to praise Him--to say Blessed be your name....

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name...

Blessed be your name
when I'm found in the desert place
When I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say....
Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world is all as it should be
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Where there is pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will chose to say
Lord, Blessed be your name...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pain Treatment - Round 2

I stand corrected. The pain shots that my husband is receiving is not a treatment per se but considered pain 'management.' It is complicated when it comes to chronic pain for there is no cure for it but rather, trying to manage the pain so that you can somehow make it through the day. It was rather overwhelming sitting in the waiting room at the pain clinic watching all the people who are suffering from it. Pain is very debilitating.

My husband had his second round of pain shots last week. This time, though, he was not in and out in an hour and half. After hour 3 passed, I started to panic. I kept hearing someone or should I say I thought I could hear someone sobbing and it sounded like my husband. Of course, the reality of that is slim since he was in the back of the office behind closed doors and I was in the front waiting room with the television blaring and the people talking. Your mind likes to play little tricks on you. Nevertheless, he was in there for double the time and I knew something wasn't right. I kept trying to reason with myself that I was over-reacting and that I needed to calm down. The nurses were so slammed that day so I was trying not to in my panic, bother them so I just waited.

Finally, after another 45 long, agonizing minutes, they wheeled him out. It was a beautiful sight and relief flooded over me. I almost started sobbing right there but I managed to hold it together which is a mighty amazing feat considering being six months pregnant. After we got in the car, he did tell me that he had a pain attack in the very beginning before they even were able to start the shot process. When this happens, he can't move because the pain is so intense. So the doctor had to give him other medication and wait for it to get into action which then put him back in the rotation for the shots. So he was sobbing but it was in the very beginning not at the time I thought I was hearing him.

I cannot tell you how many times over the last three years I have struggled with the very idea that he might in the end die. I know that for every person this is a reality. Our physical bodies are not meant to live on forever but we do have the choice where our spiritual bodies will live. If you've accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, then you will spend eternity in heaven. The alternative choice is hell. I know that my husband belongs to the Lord and if it is his time to go, then I know where he will be. The idea of the separation and not having him here with me is what has me in a tizzy.

I was so relieved when the doctors had determined recently that the source of his pain was his back because it meant that it wasn't a terminal illness. His pain has been such a mystery for so long and to finally have an answer was such a relief. But somehow, I continue to worry. It's my talent, I guess. I worry that his body is going to get tired of dealing with the pain, I worry that his heart will give out, I worry that something else is wrong....I didn't say I made sense all the time. I do find myself checking to see if he's breathing when he's lying so still when he's sleeping. I know, those thoughts can be irrational but it is something that I struggle with periodically.

So the Lord has been teaching me to trust even when nothing makes any sense. I know that if it came to a point where I would lose my beloved, that God will give me the strength and the courage to face that. I have to trust that God will take care of things if that should happen, just as he is taking care of us now. We have seen some pretty amazing God moments. That will never change as long as I hold onto Him.

It's been six days since his second round of shots and we see no relief again. It's very frustrating. It's hard not to get swallowed up in discouragement. We had so hoped that this would even dull the pain some so that he could function a bit more than what he has been able to. For it not to work, is just deeply disappointing. So we keep moving forward, taking each day as it comes. We keep trusting, believing and praying that God will help us find our way in all this which He does and continues to do.....daily.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Pain Treatment - Round 1

I've always struggled with the month of February, not because of the snow but perhaps, because of the lack of sunshine. There is something special about the warmth and the mere presence of the sun that warms the heart, warms the soul and gives hope. I've often thought that when it makes it's appearance during the winter months, I should run outside and set up my lawn chair and soak in it. It's just not the same looking at it through the window....

We've begun the series of pain shots for my husband. The first round was a couple weeks ago. He was in and out in about an hour and half and was feeling somewhat alright when he came out. The first thing he says to me when we got in the car was I'm starving! Of course, I believe the steroids make you incredibly hungry or perhaps it was the 'you can't eat or drink anything eight hours before' that makes one ravenous. He was craving a big, juicy burger and fries so we scraped together enough change to oblige the need. He was kind enough to give me a bite!

Later that day, I had to leave for a bit to pick up our food basket from the church, pick up his prescription and go to the post office. I was only going to be gone for a couple of hours, so I made sure he was medicated, used the restroom, and was tucked in his recliner before I left. However, when I returned, it was a nightmare...

When I opened the door, I found everyone upset and crying including my husband who was in so much pain, he could hardly stand it. Leaving the kids home alone with him in that much pain is just not a good idea. They don't know how to handle it and he is powerless to stop it. When he has these pain episodes, he can't move, he can't function and it is extremely scary for all to watch. We, unfortunately, never know when it is going to occur so I try very hard to plan things around his medication but that is not even a surefire way to avoid these kinds of situations.

There is something about watching and hearing someone you love very dearly go through something so agonizing. It makes a huge impact on your mind and your heart. The sound of his sobbing not only affects me, it is incredibly difficult on our children. In some ways, I think they/we have traumatic stress syndrome. The prayer of my heart is that God will use this situation, even in our children, for good and that He will heal all of our hearts so that there is no lasting damage from this.

The one thing that we have found and have even heard from the nurses is that like a mental illness, debilitating pain is not something we can see. So when we look at person, we sum them up to be alright when in actuality they are suffering just as much as someone who has a horrible illness that you can see. We have been judged and criticized so much because of his 'unseen' health issues but we know that God knows exactly how much he endures on a daily basis to just get through the day. God is the one who continues to give us the strength and the courage to face each day and to continue moving forward.

It's been two weeks since his first round of shots and unfortunately, we've seen no relief. The doctor did warn us that some do not see any effects from the first set. So we continue to look to God who is really the One who heals and we continue to put our faith and trust in His plan. Our mind is set on Him and even in the midst of winter and the lack of sunshine, I am not going to give up and be a victim of discouragement. I choose to hold onto the hope that comes from the Lord concentrating and soaking in His 'sonshine.' His love endures all things....