Answers and Metaphors

I woke early Friday morning before the alarm went off. As I waited for the signal that 5:30 had arrived and that it was time to get moving, I allowed my emotions free reign. I was too sleepy for coherent thought, but emotion after emotion--excitement, anxiety, hope, cynicism--crashed over my insides like waves onto a beach. The waves were gentle, but they still carried weight. I sifted through them all, deciding which ones to to throw back to the deeps and which ones to hold on to. Excitement was okay because no matter what would happen at the appointment, I would have an enjoyable day with Brandon afterward. Anxiety wasn't helpful. Hope was alright as long as it was well placed. I could hope in what I knew for certain--that Jesus would be there with me and would not let me go. The presence of cynicism was telling--I needed to adjust my hope. There is no room for cynicism when hope is in its proper place.

Much like Christ does for His Church, Brandon knew my needs that morning, and met all that he was able to meet. He cooked me a good breakfast, he packed what we would need for the day and he provided me with fun, distracting conversation. He let me control the music, and listened happily to what I chose. I was perfectly calm by the time we pulled into the parking lot.

I remained calm until we were told that because we had not met our deductible, the office required $500 from us before I could see the doctor. We were caught off guard by this information. They apologized for not calling us about it before we arrived, and asked if we wanted to proceed. I looked to Brandon. He nodded.  We've stayed afloat just fine, but the last year has been the most financially demanding season of our marriage. I think we both grimaced inwardly as they swiped our credit card.

Within ten minutes, the medical assistant called us back. From that point, we were at the office for 3 1/2 hours. I saw a medical assistant, a nurse practitioner, a radiologist and the doctor. They were all friendly and excellent at their jobs. These people treat people who are in pain in varying degrees everyday. They meet lots of frowns, little patience and a good bit of attitude, I'm sure, but they were all perfectly friendly (as in friendly, but not overly so, which can be annoying to people who are hurting) and compassionate. In case you haven't been sick or hospitalized lately, that is a rare, rare thing. And these people? Yeah, they made my day.

The nurse practitioner came in first. She read my paperwork I had filled out, asked extensive questions and listened without once looking at me like I was crazy . . . even when I told her that I suspected that my allergies were somehow connected to my pain! Already, things were going better than expected. After doing a physical examination, she handed me four pamphlets to read while I waited for x-rays--"Carpal Tunnel Syndrome," "Pelvic Girdle Dysfunction," "Osteoarthritis," and "Fibromyalgia."

 I read until the radiologist called me back. She was a young black woman named Melanie. She was excellent, but was a little distracted that day. Her distraction did not take anything away from my experience, but rather enhanced it. You see, she was planning a wedding that would take place in a week's time. She and her fiance had decided two weeks prior that they were just going to get it done! She was trying to make the decisions brides make over the course of several months to a year in only a couple weeks of time. She knew her colors, but couldn't decide what to do about the cake, program design and bridesmaid dresses. To my delight, she asked me for my opinion, and I think I was able to help! (In one of my wilder daydreams, I would love to be a stylist--for family photos, for home design and especially for weddings.) Who knew I would encounter a bit of fun on a day that could have been quite frightening?

After being ushered back to my room, I waited only a few moments before Dr. Larry Broadwell entered the room along with the nurse practitioner who had been with me before. He was an older gentleman, with blue eyes which where somehow simultaneously piercing and gentle. He was compassionate, authoritative, and mentally sharp. It did not take long for me to realize that this man was more than a doctor. He was a teacher. In terms I could easily understand, he explained that I had several different things going on in my body--

(A) The pain in my hands were due to carpal tunnel syndrome, probably something I had had for years due to so much time at the piano and computer keyboard. The stress of the last several months had probably caused my already existing problem to rear its ugly head. While this can be unpleasant news for a pianist/want-to-be writer who will always find some reason to be stressed, I was actually a bit relieved. CTS sounds better to me than say, rheumatoid arthritis.

(B) He told me that my limp as well as my hip and knee pain on my right side were likely the result of Pelvic Girdle Dysfunction, a condition that may be due to a variety of causes. My case was caused by childbirth. At the end of pregnancy, the hips separate to allow the birth to take place. When my hips fused back together, they did so unevenly, placing one hip higher than the other. Thus, my right leg is slightly longer, forcing it to carry 60% of my weight, causing my limp and my pain. My condition may or may not be able to be corrected, but it can significantly improve with physical therapy.

(C) He further explained that the nature of my other body aches and pains made me appear to be a fibromyalgia patient. I have all the right ingredients for the recipe--a Type A personality, a long period of stress in my life, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and hyper-extending joints (my joints are apparently more flexible than what is natural). He told me that he was hesitant to slap a label on me because my condition had only just developed. To help me understand, he used this metaphor--When we celebrated my son's first birthday, we could not possibly anticipate what he would look like as a 3-year-old, much less as a 20-year-old. As with my son, it is impossible to know what I will look like in a few months or a year. I could be a fibromyalgia patient, or I could have something like osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint disease). There is no way to tell yet. (If given the choice, I would prefer to have fibromyalgia. I don't want anything degenerative.)

(D) After going through my x-rays,  he told me there were currently no signs of rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. What he did find was the PGD (although this was discovered during the physical examination), and problems with my neck, which I knew I had. My neck is absolutely straight and stiff as a board. Necks are supposed to have natural curvature. Numerous incidents of whiplash are probably at fault. He recommended physical therapy for this issue as well.

After being thoroughly evaluated, I was given a prescription for physical therapy 1 to 2 times a week for 3 to 4 weeks for my PGD and neck problem. My PT sessions will be in Bossier. It won't be easy to manage the drive and childcare, but I will call on Monday morning to make my first appointment. Anything for some relief! I was also given informative pamphlets, which describe how to manage fibromyalgia and CTS pain. I was told to make an appointment in 4-6 weeks with my general practitioner in order to decide whether or not medication is necessary. I will see Dr. Broadwell again on October 18.

I was not expecting this level of care. I was not prepared to hear terms like "stress management" and "hesitate" and "holistic care." I was not prepared to meet friendly, compassionate people who would listen to me, and not tell me how crazy or wrong I was when I voiced my concerns about the link between my food allergies and pain. I certainly didn't expect to leave without a prescription for some drug I couldn't take as a mother of children who regularly wake up in the middle of the night. I am a pretty decent actress, which is a good thing. Otherwise, I would have left with my mouth hanging open.

The beautiful thing about that appointment is that it didn't leave me frustrated with a ton of questions I wished I had asked. I was able to tuck it away, and freely enjoy my afternoon with Brandon. We had a blast--from the car ride to the better-than-expected appointment to the steak lunch at Saltgrass to the overly loud IMAX feature of The Dark Knight Rises.

The day exhausted me, and I've been spending the weekend enjoying my kids and recuperating. My pain has been significant . . . . possibly due to exhaustion . . . . but I've been peaceful. I did have to check myself: why did I feel peaceful? Answers and solutions are nice, but they are not a substitute for the presence of God. After reminding myself of this fact on Saturday, I was prepared to experience Him in a new way on this journey. After three months of questions, it is easy to value answers more than I value God. I was momentarily guilty of doing just that. But I confessed this weakness, and declared that answers were no good compared to the joy of His nearness. Even an instantaneous, miraculous healing is only a pretty piece of garbage compared to Jesus!

I am going to continue on the path to wherever it leads. I want it to lead to recovery, but we will see. Next stop--physical therapy! It's good to know that I will be provided with everything I need for the journey . . . . something of which I can be certain because I'm road-tripping with Jesus . . . . and Superman always has my back.

Prayer Requests:

Sara has a tubes surgery scheduled for Thursday, August 2nd first thing in the morning. Please be in prayer for her and for her nervous parents! We are happy to be getting this done, but we wouldn't be normal if we didn't feel some kind of concern.

I will have to have a driver and a babysitter for each PT appointment. Please pray that this won't be a nightmare.

We are moving next month! (*screams into pillow*) Please pray that things go smoothly, that the stress of it all won't put me in the hospital and that Brandon will keep his cape on. We will need our Superman next month. (Details to come in a future post.)

When you remember me, pray specifically that the stress of it all won't overpower me. I am supposed to be eliminating stress as it is a major trigger for my pain, and I am practically signing up for it! Between moving, a surgery, several physical therapy sessions and the start of a new diet, my plate will be very full next month. I have no idea how it will all get done and in what condition we'll be in when it's over, but I trust the Lord to bring us through it. Just pray that the Enemy doesn't get the better of me and my family in the midst of it!

Thank you for praying me through thus far. Please don't forget me. I am still fragile and finding my way and very much in need of prayer. Love to you all.