I said I would write about the meaning of my blog’s name for this post, but the subject of joy is very dear to my heart, and I just can’t write about it now. Why? Because I’m in some of the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. So I’ll write about the one thing I can think about: pain.
A couple weeks ago, I started getting a “stabbing” sensation in my left lung. Of course, it didn’t really feel like I was being stabbed. That would be ridiculously painful! I just don’t know how else to describe it. Then three days ago it turned into a STABBING sensation. Seriously, now it feels like I literally have knives being pushed between my ribs. It’s ridiculously painful! Yesterday morning began with me falling off the couch and shouting, “AGHHHHHHHH!” at the top of my lungs for like ten seconds straight, as if shouting would make the pain leave my lungs faster. My neighbors probably have plenty of questions about what goes on in my house by now.
When it’s not early in the morning and I’m able to think clearly, I have more efficient methods of pain management. Nothing beyond the occasional back massage from Kristina or my parents takes the physical pain away (I’ve tried every pain med!), but I can train my attitude to better handle getting through the day.
One method, is to smile. No, not because I’m trying to look tough, but because it makes me less stressed. It’s scientifically proven. Your brain follows your mouth muscles apparently. I used to have to attend really … passionate … meetings at the school newspaper I used to work at, and I’m sure I looked rather passive aggressive when I would respond to anger with a huge (pretty forced) smile on my face.
Sometimes, I take it a step farther and laugh at myself. Yesterday, I couldn’t find the strength to move just a few inches over to pick up the remote that fell off the couch. I just hurt too badly. Then I remembered that just a couple months ago my organs went into septic shock and I almost died. I had to relearn how to walk and even how to breathe properly. I pushed myself so hard and was so proud of my determination and hard work. And here I am stressing out because I’m too much of a wimp to reach a remote that’s a few inches away? I laughed at myself and picked up the remote.
The best thing I can do to handle my pain is think of the wise words of my father, repeated so often through IV placements, toe stubs, pulled muscles, and various scary medical procedures: “Builds character!” And it’s true. One of my favorite verses is found in James 1:2-3, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”** Every time I’m going through pain, I think about how much more easily and patiently I’ll be able to handle future sufferings. Any time I feel like I can’t handle the pain, I can say, “Hey, at least it’s not as bad as the time the docs shoved a —“ Okay, never mind. You don’t want to read about that…
Well, I’ve done my rambling and I’m ready to heat up another hot pack and beg my dad for a massage. By the way, doctors don’t think the lung pain is anything serious. Just pulled muscles from all the coughing and general weakness (rude!). They told me to take more pain meds and hopefully I’ll start feeling better in “a few days.” You bet I forced a smile on my face upon hearing that advice.
Next post: Hopefully the meaning of my blog title?
**Note: I know this is talking about trials of faith, but I think it can apply to physical trials as well!