Smiling Through Pain

Let’s start with the biggest news of all from my most recent Stanford appointment. This is, well… basically… HUGE!

Are you sitting down?

Ready??

I WAS ABLE TO SLIDE MY WEDDING RING OFF BEFORE THE PROCEDURE!!  Hah!

Forgive me for all the build-up, but this is a really big deal. If you’ve followed my blog for a bit, you know I reference this extremely buggy issue often.

But…I have lost 10 lbs. …and being able to avoid the awkward conversation with the nurses of why I can’t take my ring off was HEAVEN. And hopefully the weight loss will continue and begin to show up in other places besides my ring finger!

This procedure required an IV and THAT turned into a comedy of not-so-funny errors. The first nurse about KILLED me with several failed attempts. She discreetly slipped away and nurse Donna gave it a few unsuccessful tries. Donna decided to send for Dan who is their best guy for challenging patients.

Meanwhile, I quickly got Ed’s attention, asking him to send out an IV-SOS-text for prayer to Wendy and Kelly because I was now nauseous and faint— not to mention BRUISED and hurting. The problem, however, is Ed is not a fast texter:  He over-thinks his wording and spelling before he will send anything. In the chaos of the moment, I SWEAR he asked me how to spell “IV.”  Hah!

Before the infamous Dan could arrive, an older nurse named Dixie stepped in to give it a try. Donna tried to persuade her to wait for Dan, but Dixie was determined! Donna literally leaned over me and whispered, “I apologize in advance for what is about to happen.”

Oh my!!

Funny thing… Dixie got it.  First try.  No bruising.

I also had a mammogram followed by an ultrasound.  Not my favorite appointment for a number of reasons… mainly, my mom died of breast cancer and I find myself fighting twinges of fear and being super sad when these times come up.

During the ultrasound, the technician suddenly stopped the screening and with a concerned tone in her voice said, “I need to get someone to look at this.”

She abruptly left the room and I was lying there with instant tears, thinking, “This is it.  They’re gonna say I have breast cancer just like my mom.”

My mom was beautiful— reserved, classy, graceful. I feel TOTALLY ripped off to not know her through the different seasons of life. I really miss her and Mother’s Day weekend is a nice opportunity to write about her, reminding the world that Devona Dean Polk lived and was a remarkable person! Sometimes I wonder if God took her home early (age 46) because she had finally worked through all her past pain… kind of like ending on a note of joy and emotional wholeness. I don’t know. I’m not God and let’s just reiterate my life mantra yet again: I trust him. Period.

The two technicians entered the room and began fiddling with the computer screen. Within minutes the problem was diagnosed… an equipment malfunction which was never about me at all. If the original technician hadn’t been so grumpy, I would have pointed out that after reviewing a patient’s medical history, one should not run from the room stating you need someone to look at this!

Finally, many of you have asked about Eddie’s shoulder since his driveway-motorcycle accident. It hurts and is still not quite right. I don’t want to flat out say it’s an emergency situation, BUT… he’s unable to massage my neck and shoulders because of the pain, so… it’s pretty critical he deals with it!

Seriously, I keep encouraging him to follow-up on it because his future well-being and livelihood depend on it and it’s just not any fun to be in pain.

Speaking of pain, I hope Mother’s Day is a nice day for you. I KNOW it can be hard for a variety of reasons. There was a time in my life when my mom had passed away AND I was just finding out I was unable to have kids. On Mother’s Day the emotional pain was simply TOO MUCH!! If you will be attending a church service where they ask all the moms to stand up and you are struggling with becoming a mom…as Nurse Donna would say, “I apologize in advance for what is about to happen!”

I do pray you find a reason to smile through life’s challenges and are able to bring some joy and laughter to those around you.

You can always borrow a line from Eddie and ask someone how to spell “IV”!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Disneyland Trip (Part 2)

Cradling my injured arm, we slowly made our way through the castle into Fantasyland.  Eddie gingerly led me to a brick wall where I could sit and evaluate the damage.  Meanwhile, he placed the three kids in line for Peter Pan, leaving Jess in charge.

I could not stop crying from the pain and the realization that I had potentially ruined our vacation.  “Who falls at Disneyland?  What is wrong with me?” I wailed at Eddie.  My arm was almost entirely immobile.  We weighed our options.  I could have it checked at the Disney first aid office, where I was sure they would send me to the hospital.  Or… I could go directly to the hospital where it would take hours, and our day would be shot.  OR… I could just tough it out, staying at Disneyland as planned.

I insisted on the latter.  I positioned my arm as if it was in an imaginary sling.  Our pace slowed WAY down.  We STROLLED through the park, appreciating each sure step, often yielding to others.  If Olivia wanted a picture with a character, we stopped.  If Jessica and Cory indicated interest in a ride or attraction, we did it.  Throughout the day I downed a lot of Advil, spending much time patiently waiting for the others.  My aggression had been completely subdued.

Upon returning to the hotel, I decided to call my friend who is somewhat connected to the medical field.  Well, okay… her mom, sister and brother are all nurses, AND her closest friend is a science teacher!  What more could you want?  As we talked, we determined that I had not broken anything.  It had to be a soft tissue injury.  That was reassuring to me.  I felt I could finish out our trip, relying on Advil and ice to get me through.

To add insult to injury, it was my right arm and shoulder that took the brunt of my fall.  Being right-handed, this left me quite handicapped to perform even the most mundane, simplest tasks.  Changing my clothes proved to be the most difficult challenge.  Painful!  Brushing my teeth, blow-drying my hair, eating – anything that involved raising my right arm the tiniest fraction of an inch, brought unbearable pain.

Back from vacation, I daily analyzed if I should call the doctor.  Many people told me that I could possibly improve with time, however, after three weeks of NO improvement, I FINALLY made the appointment.  My rotator cuff was damaged.  I was to start physical therapy, with surgery as a back-up plan if I did not respond to treatment.  The good news was I already knew an excellent PT who had recently seen Ed, Jessica and Cory (THAT story is for another blog).

As I arrived for the first appointment, the teasing was in full swing in regards to yet another Margo coming through the door.  I humbly shared the story of my “accident”, giving everyone permission to tease me about it.  THEN, it became really comical when I had to explain my previous “injury” to the same arm due to ABS… that is… Angry Birds Syndrome (refer to my blog post, “Birds”).  I must admit, it would be nice to have more honorable injuries!

Slowly my arm has responded to therapy, with surgery no longer part of the discussion.  It has been over 3 months since the infamous castle belly flop, and I am still not a hundred percent recovered.  Recently, I read a quote by Beth Moore which said, “Better to be broken than to snap.”  God seems to be taking me on little practice runs of brokenness.  He is teaching me to yield to Him in every area of life.  I must be a reluctant learner because the “opportunities” just keep coming.

There are three short verse in I Thessalonians 5 in which God gives three keys to successfully living through or with brokenness:

Verse 16   “Be joyful always.”  (that’s the WHOLE verse)

Verse 17   “Pray continually.”  (Whole verse, again)

Verse 18   “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I have to simultaneously do all three because I cannot have joy unless I pray, which leads to giving thanks which is ultimately an expression of my faith.  I trust God with everything – especially my broken parts… whether physical, emotional or spiritual.

Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, had a great quote in his book “Finding Home.”  He stated, “The purpose of pain is often to develop our character, yet we run from it because… pain is the gift that nobody wants.  I love that!

“Lord, please break me before I snap.  Use the gift of pain to grow deep spiritual roots in my life.  I will be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.  Oh… and one more thing… while I know that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, maybe we can do these life lessons in joy somewhere else… Just a thought…!!!   I love you Lord!!

Birds

“Can you describe the pain?”  asked the newest addition to my growing list of doctors.  I proceeded to tell her about my arm – the weakness, tenderness and constant ache from the elbow down.  “Classic tennis elbow, brought on by repetitive motion,” was her conclusion.

I was wracking my brain to come up with a movement I have been repeating recently.  What could possibly be causing such a weird irritation in my arm muscles?  I play the piano, but believe me when I say…I have not been putting in any extra practice time.  Perhaps working on my computer?  I have been doing a lot of writing lately.

As I mulled this over, it dawned on me what the root of my pain was.  Nothing as glamorous as piano or writing.  I can hardly bring myself to make the needed confession.  Okay.  Here goes:  My arm is somewhat out of commission because of… (drum roll, please)… Angry Birds.  There.  I said it.  I am addicted to an app on my i-phone.  Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio – the whole “sha bang.”

You might be wondering how I can possibly make a spiritual application from Angry Birds.  Oh, I’ve got one!

Pain can be one of the best motivators for change.  It can gently or dramatically force us to deal with out-of-whack areas of our lives.  Pain forces action.

Several years ago, I had an intense pain on the right side of my lower abdomen.  It would not let up!  Finally, I made a doctor appointment to have it checked out.  The pain drove me to action, which in turn began a series of medical tests and surgeries.  Cancer was found in two places in my body.  As you know, with cancer any loss of time in the diagnosis accommodates the spread of the disease.  The original soreness, though not cancerous, possibly saved my life.

I have a few friends who are currently suffering great emotional distress due to choices their young adult children are making.  Their raw pain has moved them to seek God in deeper ways.  When I have been with each of them lately, there inevitably comes that awkward moment of me offering them food, followed by their shy announcement that they are fasting.  These women have gone extreme, crying out to God to change their children’s lives.  Their pain has driven them to a new intimacy with Christ.

So… Pain.  Friend or foe?  Motivator or inhibitor?  Action or denial?  Stepping stone or stumbling block?

God will use everything in our lives to grow us.  Ephesians 1:11 states, “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.”  He is able to grab our attention when life hurts.  Will we allow Him to work in our lives… to work out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will?

And… just for the record, to let you know that my tennis elbow or ABS (Angry Birds syndrome) was not in vain… I had passed all levels, earning three stars on each!  Impressive, I know!!!