Purpose in the Pain

I have had many surgeries over the past 6 years or so…all after my cancer diagnosis. This latest one went smoothly as far as complications, needles, anesthesia, all of that. However, pain wise…this is some of the most intense pain I have been in. As a rule, pain medicine and I do not agree with one another, and I usually try to wean myself off as soon as possible. This time it has not been possible to down size to Tylenol, so I have added an anti-nausea medicine to my cocktail, which cycles around about every four hours. Without my concoction, I melt down in a large slobbery puddle that transforms into a lake or an ocean depending upon how long it takes me to ingest my next dose. Movement of any kind sends shooting pain in all directions and bending is near impossible. The pain is the exhausting and constant, even with the fog inducing meds. The sharpness increases the closer to my “teatime” I get, and I find myself cutting a few minutes off in trying to stay ahead of the excruciating pain.
Today I woke up mad…not a good place to start the day. Mad that I hurt and there is nothing that can be done about it, other than to try to numb it. Anger and pain is a bad combination for anyone who is nearby, so I went back to bed to save my family from myself. Since I mainly move between bed and chair, I figured why does it matter if I get up or just go back into drugged sleep. At noon, I attempted to shower… another especially draining task that brings the pain to the surface quickly. My frustration level grew with each step, until I could finally fall into my chair for some relief. I wondered how many episodes of House Hunters I could watch before going crazy? Then the physical therapist called and told me she would be here within the hour. I took some more pills, and iced my knee down in preparation. I have been therapist-less since coming home, which is not good, but a result of workman’s comp delays.
I know about physical therapy. I know the goal is movement and in order to achieve it you have to experience significant pain, but on this day…in my angry and exhausted mental state, I didn’t know if the therapist would get out alive. What I found is that, though she pushed me to tears and past what I thought I could do, that having a purpose in the pain helped my mental state considerably. Up until today I was in survival mode, just trying to cope with debilitating pain…and not really doing a very good job at it. Then, as the therapist was pushing my knee into a bend, I saw the purpose in the pain. I want to hike again, and so I must move. I must go where I do not want to go, and do what I think I cannot, in order to be free in the future.
Now you know that I find spiritual lessons in these physical trials. Sometimes I live my life in pain of some sort or another. I try to numb it, or ignore it, deny it or bury it in any number of ways. But it hurts and it is exhausting. It drains my emotional energy and holds my spirit captive. I walk through life angry and frustrated for some unknown reason. It shows up in my relationships with people and with God.
Then there is a moment of clarity. Somehow, God shows me the purpose in the pain. I see that if I will walk into it, and not merely cope or step around it, I can actually become free of it. If I allow God to push me beyond what I think I can do, and stretch me to make me more flexible I will be free at some point in the future. He will use the very thing that has held me back to set my spirit free…all because there is a purpose in the pain.

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