I slumped down on the vanity seat in my bathroom which squeaks under pressure. The pain in my hand sounded like it—high pitched and annoying. I put my forehead on the quartz countertop. It was cool to the touch but hard as a rock. I felt defeated. I already live with pain so how is it God would allow one more part of my body to hurt I asked myself.
My phone rang and I hoped it was Him calling with an answer. It was my Dad, which in a situation like this, is the next best thing.
“How are you?” he asked.
“What’s the matter?”
“My hand is killing me.”
“What’d your rheumatologist say?”
“There wasn’t much more to be done.”
“I don’t believe that,” he said.
“I don’t either but when I asked about seeing a hand specialist, he was very negative about it which didn’t help.”
“You’re going to find a specialist, right?”
Two weeks later I was sitting in the specialist’s exam room thinking about what might be next for me. He had six views of my hands and when he spent twenty minutes looking at the pictures, I got nervous.
“Well these aren’t the worst films I’ve seen this week,” he said. “But I can see why you’re having trouble.”
I got lightheaded when he showed me what he was talking about. The one problem I thought I had turned out to be four problems with the left hand with similar problems developing in my right. I’ve heard that lupus can be hard on the hands and didn’t like this confirmation.
I left with my hand in a splint which made picking up the penny in the parking lot tough because my other hand was full. I seriously considered leaving it just as a way of telling God I was not happy with Him, but I caved and figured out a way to get it.
I woke up the next morning and while I was struggling to get the dog’s food open, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “The enemy is lying to you. Stop listening to him.”
Once the dog was fed and I had my coffee I sat down and flipped through an old journal. On one page I’d written, “pain signals are easily distorted.” Under this I’d written “pain’s intensifiers are fear, anger, guilt, loneliness, and helplessness.”
Years later this read to me like a list of the lies the enemy uses. Add to that the world’s message that pain is the worst thing you can experience and a person is easily defeated. Yes, pain is awful but it’s not the worst thing you can experience.
Looking at the list it was easy to identify what I was afraid of. I was/I am afraid that my hands won’t be able to do the work they have. Guilt, yeah I have some. I feel guilty that I’m upset about this which is ridiculous. I would give anyone else permission to be upset but for some reason I expect myself to always find the upside to anything.
I’m angry for sure because as my sweetie says, “You do so much to stay well,” which is true. However, making a fist at God just isn’t a good idea right now. Loneliness—yes. I’m the only one living in this body and when I’m struggling to hold a fork, I feel like nobody is at the table with me. In yoga they say, “your mat your practice”. In the body I would say, “Your body your pain.” Others see how you react to it but can’t feel it for you.
Helplessness is the worst of all the intensifiers and it’s the ugliest lie. The others are sort of half-truths but helplessness is a complete fabrication designed to keep a person cycling through the other intensifiers. Unintentionally my rheumatologist set that in motion when he said there wasn’t much more to be done.
So, where am I deceived if I know these things? Looking at the list where I lose my way is remembering that taking care of my mental health is as essential as taking care of my hands. I forget this because the enemy distracts me with yet another lie called my, “To Do” list. Combine that with my personality and I spend so much time doing versus being that my mind can’t keep up. I’m treadmilling through unable to outrun the pain. Unfortunately pain undealt with will always find a way to get out in front of you.
With the Holy Spirit’s prompting I can only say at this point I’m trying to make sure my self-care includes more room for my mental health. I’ve doubled-up on my prayer walks, gone to a movie, finished a novel, and spent a lot of time laying down with Buddy. He keeps my heart warm while my hand gets iced. It speaks perfectly to the balance I need to find. My hand isn’t radically better but the picture is much clearer.