It was a personal battle. An inward fight. I was tangled up in the crumpled mass of emotions that comes with chronic pain. What didn’t seem like a big deal to others was the biggest battle of my young life. It was ongoing and it didn’t stop for anything.
My senior year (2012) was so discouraging. I had doctor appointments so often. I was tested for all sorts of things and they found nothing to account for the pain. I literally felt like my body was falling apart! Would it ever end? It was no longer fear that showed in my life, but the monotony of physical weakness.
In the two years following, there were days that I was overwhelmingly frustrated, and sometimes very sad. I was sick very often, because my immune system was weak. Alongside this, I was strapped down with the never-ending presence of chronic pain.
There were some moments that I was crushed beneath the weight. There were some days that I was on top of the world. There were other days that the pain was so small that I actually felt like a normal human being!! It didn’t take long for me to be reminded that I wasn’t.
Pain is hard, but pain with no diagnosis is harder. At least, it was this way with me. I felt like I couldn’t help myself, because I had no idea what was going on inside of me. I felt scared sometimes. I felt as if I was half a person, because I was limited in so many ways.
In June 2014, I decided that I needed to go into the ER. There was a lump on my body and while I could move it around, the symptoms were getting worse and I needed to know what was going on inside me.
I had applied for insurance several months earlier, but my application hadn’t come through. I was at a stand-still. Going into the ER with no insurance made me a little uneasy. How much would I be charged?
I explained to the nurse my insurance troubles in greater detail. She said that she would put all of my information into the system to see if I had insurance. I doubted that I would have it. In fact, I didn’t even hope for insurance. I just kept sitting on the hospital bed as I waited for the doctor.
Awhile passed, and the nurse came in again. Words that I did not expect came out of her mouth, and they are words that I will not soon forget. “I plugged in your information, and you do have insurance.” How could she say it so calmly? I have insurance!
Soon after, I was diagnosed with a hernia (the most uncommon one for a girl to have!). At this point, the hernia wasn’t anything serious. I now had a path to pursue! In the months that followed, my regular headaches continued as the hernia pain increased. In August 2014, my request for surgery was denied. There were a lot of tears!
I moved. I started working in the school I graduated from. I got engaged. And since I had moved to a different county, I was back to ground zero with the insurance company. I had to start everything over again.
By February 2015, I was finally able to switch everything over. My hernia became much worse. I could barely stand for 5 minutes. The aches intensified, and I was still left with a battle to get everything done before the May wedding. A miracle would have to happen.
While I had learned so many lessons while enduring pain, it was still a hard battle. I was still deep in the trenches. How much more could I take? It had been 4 long, grueling years of intense pain, emotional nights, confusion, growth, God’s comfort, and His enduring peace.
This valley of chronic pain was long and foreboding and yet safe, and full of joy. I scheduled an appointment for the second week of March, but I knew I needed something sooner.
I had been doing this health insurance stuff long enough to know that I needed to call every day to get anything done. So every afternoon, I called to see if anyone had canceled an appointment so that I could schedule mine earlier. I was also battling those personal feelings of discouragement.
And I prayed “God, I can’t! Not anymore!”
And I cried, “God, help me, I’m too weak.”
And I shrunk down, “How many more years?”
God heard my prayers and my pleadings. He had seen my tears, and my general appointment was moved to March 3rd.
Various general appointments followed as I worked my way to possible hernia repair surgery. The May wedding was less than 3 months away. I needed a miracle. And I knew it. But I also knew my God was able!
I finally had everything in order. I just needed the insurance company to approve my request. I decided to schedule two appointments. The first for a general rundown of my diagnosis and the second for a possible surgery if we got all the paperwork done in time. It would be a real miracle if it happened! Well, that’s what I was praying for!
I filled out lots of paperwork, had amazing nurses who made sure the surgeon sign off on everything so they could send it in right away. We scheduled the surgery date, even though we didn’t know if my insurance would approve my request.
I began to desperately pray for this desire of my heart. Reigning in my wild pleas as I asked that it only be done if it was God’s timing. But the following Tuesday, I heard from Amanda (the amazing, helpful nurse!) that my request for surgery hadn’t even gotten through to the insurance company yet. I was disappointed.
I knelt down to pray and again begged God for surgery if it be His desire for me. A short time later, I received the call that insurance had approved my surgery in a matter of hours!
This wasn’t the miracle I had been praying for. I was praying that approval would happen in a week’s time. My God gave a miracle more miraculous! He did it all in a handful of hours. I had hernia repair surgery on April 2, 2015.
A year later, I have the scar that holds the reminder that God still works miracles! In this last year, my body has done healing by leaps and bounds.
I have also been able to work with a therapist who specializes in myofascial release. He has been so helpful, informative, and kind! Since working with him, my headaches hold much less pain, and my migraines are extremely infrequent.
I am healing. The sunshine in this valley of chronic pain is vibrant and soft. It holds me gently and reminds me that God is Healer— my Healer.
I will not pretend to know why I’ve gone through so many years of dark, perplexing, difficult chronic pain. But because of this, I am able to know this sunshine, this miracle, and the glorious truth that God heals!
I don’t think I’m on a mountaintop today. I’ve grown rather fond of this valley. I never want to forget it. Today, I’m enjoying the sunshine beneath the shadow of God’s wings. I see the darkness, the cobwebs, the tangles, the tears, the long nights, the anger, the frustration, the growth, the peace, the joy, and the wonder.
It has been a long valley, but today….it is full of sunshine.