A Closer Look At Pain

February 2011 019February 2011 024 February 2011 034

There are times when I feel on top of my game, like everything couldn’t be better, and I’ve got everything under control.  It’s usually about then that something starts to unravel and I see myself for who I really am, or who I can be when I am not at my best.  The pain I deal with from having rheumatoid arthritis is about 80% under control on a day to day basis.  This past weekend, because of being so sick for the past few weeks, my medication got completely out of whack, bringing that pain control down to about a 5% level.  That’s about the level where the ugly in me comes out.  I feel so bad for grouching at my kids when they do normal kid stuff that I normally wouldn’t bat an eye at. 

I was so discouraged this weekend, not only  because of my lousy attitude, but at the level of pain that literally possessed me.  It made me angry, sad, and uptight all at once.  I really thought I was getting “better”.  I was so frustrated to realize that was not the case.

My grandpa Lanting dealt with severe pain and illness for the 10 years that I knew him — the last 10 years of his life.  A week or so before I was born, he suffered a major heart attack and was not expected to live.  The elders from my mom and dad’s church came to pray for him that he would be healed.  They prayed for him, and he lived 10 more years.  I was so grateful to know him, and see how my grandma loved him and took care of him.  One thing I will never forget as long as I live was my grandma telling me what my grandpa said to her once.  He said, “I used to ask God Why Me?, but now I realize that I ask God, Why not me?”  He came to the realization that just because he was losing his health didn’t mean that God didn’t love him or was unjust, cruel, or unkind.  He was living out the end of his days as a human spirit perfected in God’s grace in an imperfect body.  He knew his body would be made well again once he finally met his Savior face to face.

I am so grateful for a legacy of faith.  I am so grateful that my grandma took the time to share with me about what my grandpa learned through his 10 years of suffering. The faith that has been handed down to me is something I treasure and hold on to in times of pain.  Reflecting on the faithful words of my parents and grandparents’ experience gives me hope and strength I hope Rob and I can pass down to our children and grandchildren.

4 thoughts on “A Closer Look At Pain

  1. Amy says:

    My dad suffers from this horrible disease as well. I know he must deal with the same emotions you do. Thank you for being open with us and revealing what happens on your not so great days and the faith you have to get through them. Prayers for you 🙂

  2. Ellen says:

    Hi Michelle: This is a lovely reflection, and the photos add a whole other layer of meaning. Thanks for leaving the comment on my pain post yesterday (and for friending me on FB…sometimes I am just downright amazed by all the meaningful connections I, a lifelong introvert, have made through writing!). I hoped that my openness about living with chronic pain and the shame that comes with using pain medication would strike a chord with others in the same boat, so I’m glad it did. I have a couple of friends who are my “pain buddies” (including one with RA)–friends who also deal with pain, fatigue, etc. Talking to them every few months, at least, is vital to my mental health. We all need those reminders that we are not alone! I look forward to reading more of what you write, and wish you the best in getting through this painful week.

  3. I think this sort of awareness is important for everyone who deals with chronic illness of any kind. For our family, that’s mental issues. That’s a tough thing to type and not go back and delete. But I know when my medications are “off” I feel the same way you do. Same thing with my kids. They grow and need a boost in medication but it takes us several weeks if not months to figure out that’s the simple answer.

    It all just makes me realize how very many people there are walking around the world without the benefit of the medical community I live with. I’ve worked hard for many, many years to bring my family to the point of relative stability we are at today. So many people don’t have the resources, the support, the determination to work that hard at it.

    We all get better in the long run and support our families the best when we talk about it. So, thanks.

  4. Helen Lee says:

    I appreciate your sharing, Michelle. So often we are tempted to put our best face and life forward on our blogs and Facebook statuses and Tweets, when the reality is that we are all broken people in some way or another. And I think as we share those areas of brokenness, we can enter into deeper relationship with one another. So I’m so glad you chose not to hide the pain your experience; while I pray for relief for you, I also imagine that your willingness to discuss this struggle will only open a wider door of ministry for you. Thanks so much!

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