Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I'm going to talk instead, about a book I'm just finishing reading....I'm about a half hour away from finishing it. The book is called "Dominion" and it's by Randy Alcorn, the author of "Heaven". The book is a fictional account of a newspaper columnist who is intent on solving the mystery of who viciously murdered, in gangland style, his sister and niece while they slept. The main characters are all Christians, in varying degrees of intimacy with Yahweh...and half of the book actually takes place in Heaven, where Dani, the murdered sister is now residing.
Not only does the book give the reader a Biblical, yet tradition-blowing perspective on Heaven...it gave me a real challenge in terms of how I am living my life now. Earth is truly the "Land of Opportunity"...If we don't do it here and now; it "ain't gonna get done." The book makes a statement something like, "We have all eternity to celebrate our lives' victories and only a few short years in which to earn them." He also says that every choice, every decision we make impacts our condition in Heaven. This gives a whole new dimension to the level of the importance of our actions, the significance of our words.
It was also an encouragement to me because in his tale, the inhabitants of heaven could look through a "portal" and view events, past and present, which take place on Earth. These events and the people carrying them out are a source of study for Heaven's occupants and a blackboard upon which Yahweh instructs his people and teaches them lessons about Himself. Among the types of people who were viewed and were designated as holy and valuable to Elyon (God) and faithful, were those people who were poor, isolated, and/or disabled who continued in prayer, suffered without cursing Elyon, and did good to those who abused them. These are the nameless and unknown on Earth--and the famous and honored in Heaven. It was fascinating to me to see Earth's values turned upside down and the rewards of those who'd suffered and been ignominious on this planet being honored and considered so special by the Father.
I'll tell you, it makes me very ashamed of myself for griping about my suffering; for feeling worthless and of no significance. We need to start viewing our lives and this Earth with the eyes of Heaven; for Heaven's eyes are on us; and soon, we will be seeing all of that from Heaven's perspective first-hand (at least I HOPE you can be assured of that! If not, please email me and I'd be glad to tell you how you CAN be sure.) If we are faithful in the small, "invisible" ways...the secret areas that no one else may know; this is broadcast in heaven and will bring us great reward when we finally get there.
As Hebrews says (I believe in chapter 12), we are surrounded by such a "cloud of witnesses" and this is cited as a motivation for living a sinless and honorable life in every regard. Folks, nothing we do is secret. Not anything good and not anything bad. Live your life in such a way that your actions can be broadcast on a screen as big as the ones in Times Square, for all of the inhabitants of the world who are in the Kingdom to come to view and learn from. For that is exactly what we are doing!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
For the past week I've struggled with cervical pain (neck area of spine) that is progressively worse and now defies description.
I'm taking dosages of oxycontin that are way too high and too frequent, and they are barely touching the pain which shoots down all the way to my fingertips.
My husband told me last night that I should just go to the ER and be admitted so that they can control my pain until something definitive can be done. I decided then to try and tough it out...that was 12 hours of hell ago. My tune has changed now. As soon as it gets light and I can get a ride, that is what I am doing. My hatred of pain has overcome my hatred of hospitals. This kind of pain, anyway. This kind of pain is a tidal wave which is SO much bigger than I am. NORMAL hellish pain, I can deal with; I am used to. But this is the kind of pain you might feel if you were being run over by a car...several times. It is beyond toleration.
Once more, due to lack of laptop; I will be out of touch...
Please keep me in prayer.
Two years ago, I went to a spine surgeon, driven by serious pain; and he told me that there was nothing they could do. My spine is in such bad shape on every single level, that surgery would be ineffective. But I think (hope) this is different. This is ACUTE, if-you-don't-help-me-I-will-do-something-drastic pain. I hope they will look at it differently.
The recent hip replacement and infection will probably complicate this whole process. I know that doing surgery on me right now is risky...I am praying that the severity of the need will overcome their hesitation. I would rather end up in heaven than go on like this (There's an OBVIOUS statement!).
Got to go now...
Sunday, June 27, 2010
- Church this morning
- a graduation/birthday party
- the weekly shopping trip to Walmart
For ME, that's busy. And it will most likely involve a lot of pain. I'm sitting here now, willing myself not to "hurl" the tea that I just drank as the nausea I've had from these IV antibiotics tosses my stomach like a rowboat on the ocean....And I still have yet to take today's dose! As we speak, I am warming the IV bag under my thigh as I sit here because I just took it from the refrigerator.
I think it's definitely going to be a long day.
Last night I tossed in pain; switching from bed to recliner and back probably four times seeking relief.
Yesterday, we went to a mall not too far away and I think that that was my biggest excursion out since I got home from the hospital. Even though I was, most of the time, in my wheelchair; it was exhausting...but exhilarating. How nice to be out of my house for once! And as always, that pleasure was intermingled with my usual terror and paranoia that strikes me in public places.
I think today will be even worse because I will be in a crowd of mostly strangers at this party; and yet many of them know my daughter and are not thinking kindly of her at the moment...due to the gossip and lying tongue of a former "best friend"... I know that she is going to be uncomfortable also, but we both love the girl in whose honor the celebration is; and we wanted to be there for her. I admire my daughter's courage for facing these snapping jaws of the wolves...(newly graduated seniors).
I don't understand why kids are so cruel. Why do they believe the stories of someone who is obviously less than trustworthy and decide to ruin the public career of someone who really did nothing to deserve such treatment? Are adults that vicious also? Because most of my friends are followers of Christ, I am sheltered from the reality of the answer to that question. As someone who struggles with paranoia and feeling like people have motives other than what is apparent; that question is very discomfiting to me. I always feel like I have a third head or the words "Paranoid Schizophrenic" tattooed on my forehead when I'm out and about. This feeling subsides a bit in comfortable situations such as at church or Bible study but settings like I will be in today just scream for trouble. I will probably clam up today; or just talk to my daughter and her boyfriend and try not to focus on all the other eyes and tongues which may (or may not) be focused on me.
Oh well,...time for my IV infusion. Wish me well today ...and if you know Yahweh, say a prayer for me also!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Being a person who suffers and perhaps, has suffered more than many other people commonly do; it is not surprising that this is a topic of interest to me. It was, in fact, this very question which caused me to flip God “the finger” and to abandon my faith for well over a decade when I was in my late teens and twenties as mental illness began to wreak its devastation in my young life. Initially, as any "good" Christian would, when I began to experience symptoms that were distressing and very unpleasant, I cried out to God to come to my aid and to remove them. The response from God?
It was a heavy and complete silence that was to last through all those years of my wandering. The voice of God which had spoken to me so often in my earlier teens, was now quiet…and the suffering continued, in fact deepened, unabated.
I am not proud of the fact that abandoning God was my response. It seems, as Randy Alcorn suggests, that if one’s faith is the kind which dies upon testing; it is a good loss….for it was a faith not worth keeping. My view of God, then, was that He was my messenger boy and my “provider of good things”…my sugar daddy and that somehow he OWED me these. And the Almighty God does not, nor ever will fit into such a small and confining box as that – He is bound to burst out, exploding our small comfortable box and challenging us: Will you follow the true God? Or will you cling to the God of your imagination? Or will you as so many have, turn your back on your Creator and give up on his plan to redeem and save this aching planet?
But you know what I found? Even though I’d abandoned God (whom I’d callously blamed for my pain) my suffering continued and in fact worsened. And now, not only was I suffering, but I was suffering but without any aid or comfort and worst of all, HOPE. The expression, “Life Sucks and then you Die” was a reality to me…and the only thing that I could see which made any sense was to try to speed through that equation and get to the “death” part as quickly as possible. But, and here’s the kicker: I couldn’t trust God but I couldn’t get rid of Him either. I never could shake the knowledge that I had, that death is not an ending but a beginning. The Bible says that “God has set eternity into the heart of man” and that was true of me. I knew that I and my miserable life had a significance which would extend beyond the grave…And I HATED THAT FACT. More than anything, I simply wanted to be “worm food” or to explode into flames like the proverbial phoenix only not to rise but to dissolve into smoke and ashes. But my heart knew that this was not to be. So I was caught in an awful bind. Wanting to die; to escape…and knowing that there really is NO escape. That somehow, someday, I would have to face God with my wretched life and give him an answer for how I’d managed it …or destroyed it. And this left me with NO peace and no place to run.
The story of my return to the embrace of God is a long and rocky one and one that I won’t share here and now, but the fact is that once I’d made peace with my understanding of who God is and allowed him to remain incomprehensible and inexplicable…to have his reasons beyond those which my finite mind could comprehend and to relax into the fact of his incredible love for me; suffering never again “threw me” the way it had all those years ago.
I’ve had and have mental anguish, the likes of which is very hard to explain to someone who has never experienced hallucinations and delusions. I mourn the loss of a life of high promise and great expectations. I have constant intractable and really severe pain in my spine as a result of old back surgeries and newer damage due to the Psoriatic Arthritis. My hands are twisted and knobby, often swollen and usually very painful as well. My hips are shot also. I’m not “braggin’ on my pain”…I’m just explaining to you that I think that I have some right to say what I’m saying here. And what exactly IS it that I’m saying? That God entrusts us with pain…just as he did with Job.
There’s the old debate about whether or not God will give us more than we can handle. 1 Cor says, "There is no temptation (and I’ve seen that translated also as “trial”) but such as is common to man…and God is faithful and will not tempt us beyond what we can bear but will, with the temptation provide a way out so that we can bear it.” I believe that this verse is what spawned that philosophy about God minding our limitations. But I don’t know if that is true. I think that maybe that verse was talking about temptation and temptation only. Because honestly, when you are wracked with a pain that NEVER abates; when the tsunami has obliterated your village and all of your family; when your youngest child dies an early death—there really may be NO WAY OUT of that suffering. We simply have to walk THROUGH it. And I have been overwhelmed by suffering that was truly greater than I had the resources to bear…and I believe wholeheartedly that the damage to my mind that has occurred as a result of this illness, is directly related to that “overload”…that circuits were literally fried in my brain and now I struggle to think clearly and to recall yesterday.
OK, so I’m saying that God does burden us to the point where human resources are completely inefficient and fall shy of meeting our ability to cope. What is the point then? That God is here with us; through our suffering; his tears mingle with ours; and he longs for the day, as we do, when he will at last arise from his throne; call an end to the pain of this world; punish those who are evil and those who cause evil and those who take delight in inflicting pain and make it all new; the way it was intended to be. Why does he delay this process? The Bible answers this question. OUT OF MERCY. There are still those people who need to come into his embrace and to trust him with their lives. If he had “righted the wrongs of the world” in 1985, I would probably have not been able to enjoy that redemption…because I was still in defiance and unbelief. If he were to right the wrongs of the world today, my daughter and husband would “miss the boat” and suffer eternal suffering. God knows the exact minute when the last believer will be saved; and that, friends, is the minute when this world will be folded up like an unused circus tent and things will begin anew.
God does NOT work on our timetable. With him “a thousand days are as a minute and a minute is as a thousand days”… But you know what? When I am in the New Earth or in Heaven and I look back on this pain-filled life; it will seem to me also, to a be a blip on the radar screen of eternity. These long sleepless nights will be like the blink of an eye. And all that will remain of it will be the knowledge of the character of the Almighty God which I have been able to develop as a result. My relationship with God which has been hardened like a clay pot in the kiln of suffering will remain for eternity. The pain will be gone and the gain will remain. And that heart and body ache will seem to be a small price to pay for something so infinitely valuable.
I don’t know whether what I have said here has made any kind of sense out of that old debate…whether it has caused you to think differently on anything. These are the answers which I have come to understand…and there are others like: It was sin and its effects which brought about the suffering of this planet; God is working on a logical premise and is completely consistent. He has allowed man to run this planet and to have his way with it; for good or for bad –and he will NOT (although yes, he COULD) magically intervene and eradicate suffering. God has established the policy and the terms of his dealings with mankind; He will not break the rules on any occasion because he is completely consistent…Man has a few grains left in the hourglass yet to “do his own thing” and to remain autonomous…but the time is coming—when God WILL STEP IN AND WILL BRING EVIL AND PAIN AND SUFFERING TO AN END. That is our hope. Not our “hope “ as in “oh, I hope so,” but our bedrock of Hope upon which we can plant our feet when the wind and waves rise and the storms rage.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I hurt really really badly.
I'm tired of being stuck in this house.
I could go on, but that should suffice for now.
I DID get my hair cut yesterday...If you checked out my profile pic, you'll see that I needed one. A hair cut is always good for what ails you, especially if you've been feeling like a sheep dog for a while. The only problem is that I discovered that I can no longer have them wash my hair at the salon...I can't put my head back into the nifty neck-holding sink thingee anymore. I did it yesterday and now my entire spine is screaming at me as a result. My neck is too frozen into one spot from the PsA to do anything stupid like that...I should have known.
That's my news for today...Nothing much else of interest to report except that I do have this basket of laundry to fold which has been waiting for me since yesterday. Did I mention that I HATE wrinkled clothes?
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Thinking of Fathers' Day this evening. Of course, I waited until a little late to think of it. I only found out today that TOMORROW is the "big day." That's what happens when you're out of touch with things.
My Dad is one of the most important people in the world to me. He has given so much of himself to me throughout so many years of great neediness on my part. And he suffered years of silence from me as I plummeted to the depths of illness when he didn't know at any given moment if I was alive or dead.
My Dad is my best critic of all of my work, art or writing. I value his opinions because they are almost always on the money. He has the eagle eye of a proof reader and can spot inconsistencies from a mile away. But he is never short on praise either.
He is my "chauffeur" -- spending many hours and days lately, driving me from one appointment to another. I try to stack my doctors' appointments as many as possible in one day because they are in NY (I live in PA and my dad lives in NJ)...so you see there is a lot of driving involved.
He and my mom have, at countless times, provided some big ticket items for me that I desperately needed but would have gone without had it not been for their self-sacrifice and generosity. The latest of these is a new mattress for my hospital bed and a recliner...both of which are essential to me because it is between the two of these that I spend about 90% of my time due to pain issues. (And yes, Dad, I KNOW the mattress money was a loan...it's coming! :) )
The best thing that my Dad has given me is a very clear picture of the Father-heart of God. He has been faithful to raise me in the faith and has stretched my understanding of God through many good conversations and shared reading materials. But most of all, he has modeled, through his own behavior, what God's heart is to us, His kids. He does the right thing, even when it's hard...like disciplining us kids; or tithing when that meant doing without many other things.... He loves when it is hard...when there is silence, or worse rage and madness on the other end.
Dad, I want to have this opportunity to thank you in front of the Web-world for being the most incredible dad I could ever have asked for. Thank you. And I love you.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I have to stay on the medicine for another four weeks before going on an oral antibiotic for the remaining two months in order to get rid of this infection. I started taking Zofran yesterday for the nausea which alleviates a bit of the misery...but it still can't convince me to put anything into my mouth!
I keep thinking as I sit and shuffle on my cane from chair to recliner to bed, to chair to recliner to bed...that this is SUCH a huge waste of time. I could be DOING something with this time...not just struggling to hang on and get through a day. But I have to tell you the truth: there's not anything much I can do. I think I just need to accept that these weeks are going to be a "loss" in terms of production and maybe focus more on being quiet before God and listening for his voice.
I can also pray for several of my missionary friends who are in the midst of great struggles right now; either with health issues or political turmoil and danger in the countries where they are serving. God will just have to listen to my disjointed and sometimes incoherent prayers and make sense of them somehow....and maybe even grant them some eternal significance. I will be happy...and content...with that.
I thank God for my mp3 player which got me through many pain-filled and hard times in the hospital and the long nights now; playing songs that focus my thoughts on God and on the time when this suffering will be forever gone. It's true that my laptop is still on the "out of action" list...after I broke the LCD screen by stepping on it (well..more like FALLING on it!)...and I am missing it desperately. I can only sit at the PC for a few minutes at a time so am not as in touch with friends as I'd like to be. I think maybe God wanted some of the attention I was giving the internet...so there it lies.
I've got to draw this to a close...my back has sat for as long as it can. Please keep me in prayer...and let me know of your prayer needs...Lord knows: I've got the time.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I'll make the medical end of it brief: Good news? I'm home after three weeks and two surgeries. Bad news? I have a wicked infection in my new hip...which will require 6 weeks of IV antibiotics and then another two months of oral antibiotics after that.
It's good...and odd...to be home. I came home with a few bags of dirty laundry and hospital discharge instructions...and walked into the house I'd missed so much...and didn't feel like I belong here anymore. My husband and daughter have "mom-less living" down pat...The house is freshly cleaned...My bedroom looks like a stranger's room...The things I brought home don't really seem to find a place here ...Where do I put this stuff? I KNOW it's only laundry and papers...and Suduko puzzle books (my latest passion), but the stuff that has been "home" to me all these weeks in the hospital now is "hospital" territory now...new stains on the clothes, new smell to them....Will they ever find a place here? Will I?
My husband tells me I may not ....ever...
The thought of moving on and moving out seems like it would take an unimaginable amount of energy and ambition...both of which I seem to be high and dry out of. Can I live alone after over 20 years...no, closer to 25 years, of living with people who took care of me? That rabbit hole looms there. The last years of living alone were in my twenties...newly diagnosed with schizophrenia and immersed in deep depression. They were years of hell...and honestly, I'm scared that if I live alone again, it will begin to feel and look like that again. Have I moved on? Have I really gotten better or is it just the structure of a home and family that are keeping me anchored and grounded? I honestly don't know.
I honestly don't know if I would remember to take my meds twice a day; and honestly am not sure that if I forgot for one or two days, I would go back to taking them. That's a terrible thing to think: that I'm that unstable really. But these are the doubts that I have; the fears that are fluttering around now at 2:00 AM.
I had a long talk with my daughter tonight...Not about my marital situation, but about her loneliness; a deep sadness. Lord, she is so much like me...but unlike me, I think.
I think that deep down, she is more sensible and responsible--even though I'd lived and worked alone for 7 years after I turned 18 and left college because of the onset of my illness (I only completed two years...and not in a row)...Even though I may have had better skills at providing for myself and more working experience...I think that she is still stronger. I hope she is.
Mine was a miserable young life...maybe "romantic" in a bad novel kind of way...but a romance that no one would ever want to live out. It was really a dance with death....and death came so close to winning so many times. It was only God's grace that caught me with each precarious plummet. And now I sit here; 47 years old in terrible health...and contemplate my life and how it would be different...or the same...should I have to return to a similar living situation now.
Homelessness is a real possibility. Many, many of my friends with this disease have been homeless at one time or another. I think given one night on the street and I would die, just out of pain. I can't imagine it. I know that I probably will always have a bed with some of my friends...if I am well...but if I step off that cliff again; I don't think that will necessarily be the case. Will I even be able to get the medicines I take now that are keeping me well? I was so unstable in the past 3 years until we found this combination....but they are expensive. I don't know if state funded medical assistance will cover them.
Morning will dawn...and these fears will be shoved into some drawer with the hospital-smelling clothes and maybe I won't need to drag them out for a while.
Monday, June 7, 2010
The surgeon is leaning toward doing a procedure called an Irrigation and Drainage (I&D) to clean out the wound and then they can do cultures from inside the area to see if there is a local infection and how far down into the joint it has gotten, if there is one. Most likely I will only be in the hospital for one or two more days after that (sorry, no computer this time :( ) and then will go home...Although, with all of my allergies to antibiotics and the fact that I can only take some intravenous ones, I may have to stay for a while in order to get a satsifactory amount of those.
Friday, June 4, 2010
One: the casual stumble on, google search type of "oops- hey this might be interesting" person
two: The person who it is geared toward; the mentally ill or their family members in need of encouragement.
Three: people who know me or people from category two who have become my friends as a result of this blog who occasionally check in to see how I'm doing
and maybe the most rare: The person who likes my writing and just drops by hoping one of these days, I might actually have something of worth to SAY...
So to all of you: (Now THIS would be an interesting challenge: to write something that satisfies each of these compelling reasons for your stopping here to read today's post: )
I am still in the hospital. I had hopes of being discharged tomorrow, in fact until about 3:00 today, everything was in gear for that to happen. But God has his ways and sometimes we really are left scratching our heads and wondering, " God, WHY??" but here it is...My incision wound as of the day before yesterday had begun to pour out masses of grossness (not really THAT bad...mostly bloody fluid...okay: gross)...which because of the ever increasing quantity and because today people decided they "don't like the way I look". I tried to tell these people that that does not indicate an infection...it's just something that happens when you've been around me too long....
Dr. Surgeon and Dr. Rehab both decided to play it safe and to put me on antibiotics and keep me here and hope to avoid another visit to the OR to try to clean it all out....So here I am...With nothing to do but to attempt to entertain you in this blog.
I've graduated from a wheelchair to mostly a walker (although I still used the wheelchair also)... Walking has gone from ejaculations of words which I shan't repeat here to occasional emissions of "oww, oww , OWHH..." (Not really, I tried to curb the former to times when such outbursts were completely autonomic so as to preserve my witness here :p -- I know; still inexcusable.)
I have had my "appointment" which my dad will know is some conversation which occurs in every hospitalization I'm in, which God has arranged for me to be able to share Him with someone else...Since I am being held for a longer than anticipated time, He must have more work for me to do.
I now have the coveted status of "independent in room" which means I no longer have to ring for staff to help me to go anywhere,...even the bathroom. It has the scent of a psych hospital. doesn't it? (It's just so you don't fall and break your head open)....They now trust my ability with the walker and wheelchair and the strength of my legs enough to give me this freedom.
Well. For those who are reading this looking for wisdom. (and finesse with words)...I think you've struck out. But at least you will all know where I am and how I'm doing.
Keep those prayers coming.
And if I know you: drop me an email and fill me in on your life.
If I don't know you: drop me an email and introduce yourself. That's how friendships are born!
Signing off for now;