*I wrote these reflections in late 2012 and early 2013 in the midst of a bout with chronic pain that ate away at me physically, mentally, and spiritually.
It’s been this way since November really. Numb.
I can’t really feel much… except that I do… too much sometimes. I should really be a lot more numb than I have been, but I just don’t like the way it feels. So, I grit my teeth… a lot. I clench my jaw until it goes numb or until my teeth feel like they’re about to break in half. I shift around in my seat until I can’t sit any longer… and then I walk around, or lie down… And then I give in and go numb. It’s a terrible feeling to give in. On some level it feels like a failure of sorts, to give in, but in the moment it’s all I can bear. So I go and grab the big bottle of beautiful white pills: Vicodin, the prescribed drug of choice.
Chronic pain has never been something I’ve ever experienced first hand. Sure, I’ve been in pain before, but never an uncontrollable pain that lasts days on end absent of relief, without of course the beautiful white pills. As a pastor, I’ve visited people in their hospital beds and emergency rooms. I’ve walked alongside those who are dealing with all kinds of chronic, physical pain, I’ve sat at the bedside of the dying writhing in a pain that cannot be soothed until their last breathe is passed. Until now I’ve never really been able to catch a glimpse of what they were experiencing.
It was October when the pain began. November before I saw my first doctor. December before I saw a specialist. And now January I sit in wait hoping for just a bit of good news. Three months of pain that doesn’t take much of a break, except for the moments when I give in and grab the bottle of beautiful white pills. Unfortunately those moments are growing more and more frequent and I’m quickly watching the bottle dwindle.
I now understand how people get addicted to pain killers.
Pain has a way of wearing you down.
For a while I was able to ignore the pain. I sort of got used to it as a constant companion, a passenger in my daily routine. I did my best to “manage the pain”, but it doesn’t really ever go away. It’s always there, persistently eating away at you physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Days of incessant pain has a way of changing you. Frustration becomes your default attitude. Anger replaces your normal disposition. Patience is a distant memory and grace nothing more than a fairy tale. I’m pretty sure I’m not the easiest person to live with.
The mental fortitude required to live in pain is remarkable. It’s like running a marathon every day. The grind getting more and more unbearable with each passing moment. Which wears you down emotionally creating a rhythmic tide of highs and lows to ride throughout the day. It leaves you yelling at God, crying with God, wondering what God is trying to teach you throughout this whole thing… sapping every ounce of spiritual strength leaving you completely exhausted with nothing left to give. And when you have nothing left to give because the battle is so hard, your relationships suffer immensely. You long for sleep, the only place you can find peace. You long for more of the beautiful white pills, because at least they can take off the edge. But when your perpetual disposition is anger and frustration, not to many people want to be around you. The lonely prison of pain is only exacerbated.
I understand how people get addicted to pain killers.
Chronic pain is a seemingly unending cycle that grinds you into powder. I’m just hoping the wind doesn’t pick up.
The past 4 months have been a difficult run, it feels like my very own personal Job moment.. I’m thankful nothing has happened to my wife and daughter, that they have been spared the same fate as Job’s family–and I spared from that inconsolable of griefs, but I’m ready to move on.
I’m looking forward to emerging on the other side with a new perspective and a fresh outlook for what this life has in store.