I deal with a lot of pain in my life. I had been struggling with back pain for a long time before I found out about my slipped disk and that has been really hard for me to deal with. You see, back pain has always seemed like an “old person’s” pain to me. Not the kind of pain a teenager should have to struggle through. I had no explanation, I had no solution. I could only put up with it. Finding out that there was a legitimate cause for this pain was such a relief. I suddenly had a source, something to blame. I could start taking steps to healing. Physical therapy was so helpful and I could start to feel myself getting better. But there was still no clear solution for the pain. See, they can’t do anything to fix it. I’m just going to have to live with this pain for what might be the rest of my life. That’s one of the scariest things you can tell an eighteen year old. That there is a chance this pain will never end. That you’re never going to feel perfectly healthy again.
I have really poor eyesight so I am eternally jealous of everyone who can wake up every morning with perfect vision. I know that I will never experience that until I get so tired of my eyes that I get laser surgery. I will never know what it’s like to wake up and see the whole world clearly. This is what it’s like to live with constant pain. Never knowing what it’s like to sit for more than twenty minutes comfortably. Never being able to bend over and pick something without cringing. Never being about to run without clutching my right hip and hobbling along behind everyone.
I got sun poisoning on Sunday. That sucked so freaking much. I mean, I’m pretty white and I’ve gotten some pretty terrible sunburns in my life, but this was worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. I found myself lying on the bathroom floor in our hotel room on Monday morning just begging God to kill me because I was in so much pain and felt like I was going to vomit and pass out. I’ve been trying to stay positive about it, but it’s so hard to stay positive when I feel so incredibly helpless. I had only been outside for a couple hours and had reapplied sunscreen three or four times. The worst part has been how long it’s taking to heal. It’s been four days and I still get so tired that I can’t get up, my body hurts so much that walking is an almost impossible task, every inch of my body simultaneously hurts and itches.
I feel like I’m back in Haiti but in the worst way. I feel helpless and like I’m holding my team back. Between my back pain and my stupid sun poisoning I haven’t been able to participate in as many of the outreaches and activities as the rest of my team. I feel like a rock, dragging them down. Something they feel obligated to carry around and care about, but not something they want around. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all and they are so fun to be around and I’m learning so much from them and I do feel like they are including me and want me around, but I feel like I’m a burden on them which is exactly what I didn’t want to be.
Last night I felt one of the most intense pains I have ever felt in my life. I was with a group of people from my team and we were in a very intense time of prayer when I suddenly felt this incredible shooting pain in my shoulder. I’m used to pain, I’ve grown accustomed to my everyday pains. But this was something I’ve never felt in my life. I found myself curled up just crying and praying over and over “please God, make it stop.” How do you deal with a pain like that besides just praying for an end? There is no other way. There’s nothing else I know to do.
Pain is so hard. Pain is so real. Pain is so unique. We each experience pain so differently and it is so hard to understand a pain that is not your own. I often feel like my pain is never going to end, that I’m going to be at the mercy of my body for the rest of my life. It feels like there’s no hope of things ever getting better. But I’m constantly reminded that I am not alone. As I lied on the floor sobbing and begging God for an end I was suddenly surrounded by friends praying for me. I couldn’t even make words to say what was going on, but they were there to pray and hold me until the pain passed. I have been blessed to have people in my life who care about me and I am loved by a God who does not let his people suffer in vain.
I do believe that everything happens for a reason and that the pain I feel from day to day is not a curse or a punishment. I know that it’s a part of me. An ugly, sad, dark part of me but still a part. It has taught me the power of prayer and has taught me so much about reliance on God. It has taught me patience as I wait for relief or as I try to understand the things that are happening to me. But mostly it has taught me how to stay positive. It’s so easy to just throw a pity party for myself and to block out everyone else, but there are still so many good things in my life. So. Many. Good. Things.
I wish I knew better how to wrap this up, but I don’t. I just have to continue to remind myself that there are good things left in the world and that there is always hope of healing.