I’m not good at being in pain. When I was an inpatient I was asleep during the worst parts that still make my skin crawl when I read about them in Dad or Ai Ai’s emails. And when I finally woke up I’d eyeball my nurses in a detached sort of way as they’d seek a suitable vein in my arms or hands for my IV. My veins have always been uncooperative so I wasn’t surprised that it was always a struggle – I have little scars all over both wrists – I didn’t really feel it, anyway. I was too confused at the time.
But when they pulled my PEG (food tube) out and the ENT put that ridiculous spaghetti noodle camera up my nose and down my throat I felt it, and I was not pleased. Nowadays I often cower in anticipation of intrusive pain (as long as no one’s got something they’re intending to put under my skin I’m okay), e.g. at CMD’s office. One day after a particularly harrowing needling session she stopped to let me rest on the table. Before she exited she held my wrist and took my pulse. It’s okay, she said soothingly, I stopped already. You can rest now.
Although my “screaming” makes her laugh bc the sensation I’m describing is not a big deal in her world (my type of reaction is definitely unusual and should be interpreted as amusing not representative), she did point out one day that since I was asleep for so long it is unsurprising that I’m jumpy. But I continue to go to her and to my other peeps even though it hurts sometimes bc I know it’s good for me. Thanks, everyone!
One of the job requirements of Recovery is being approached in public. I think people automatically assume (based on what I look like and how I move) that I’m a “safe” person to talk to. It helps me develop my social and motor skills – e.g. looking people in the eye, shaking hands, carrying on a conversation – and sharpens my compassion reflex. Oftentimes, though, people don’t want to talk – they want to do something for me. It could be as simple as running to open the door, or a few times people have wanted to pray for me.
I’m not talking about how that nice man at the Taj M’Teeter asked me if he could add me to his prayer list. I’m talking about praying right then and there. (Side note: It’s actually easier when strangers do this. I have a greater chance of game face deterioration with people I know.) This can be a dicey proposition for me since I feel it’s appropriate to close my eyes but I can’t do that without falling down. I used to lose my balance immediately and my PT or a doctor would have to catch me – but now I’m up to 2-3 seconds. This is how long it takes me to dry my face on a towel after washing it. Most of the time I make sure to lean against something and then reach for the towel, but being the daredevil I am I’ve sometimes pushed the envelope while standing unsupported. (!!)
So I generally cast my eyes downward, but the first time this happened Mommy kept her scanners pealed for the duration. A very sweet girl waited for us in the parking lot at the supermarket and asked if she could pray for me. And then she wanted to pray for all of my compromised body parts individually, so it took a really long time. Mommy was ready to intervene at a moment’s notice. But I appreciated the sentiment, although it’s different from what I’m used to. PS. I’ve only experienced this with people I agree with in theological basics, although we come from very different practicing backgrounds. I did tell her that although I have full confidence that God can heal me instantaneously it does not appear to be His will presently. Trust me on this one – I asked already. Begged, more like.
The last time this happened I was with Ai Ai. It was a new acquaintance who prayed for me, but it was someone Ai Ai knows and trusts. The first time this person prayed for me caught us by surprise. The second time this happened I had some anticipatory notice. This time I was not surprised when I got prayed for again, and it ended with a quote from scripture: with His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53.5)
My heart just about fell out of my chest when she quoted that verse. I could cry just thinking about it. Because as different as it is for me to get prayed for in this very demonstrative way I instantaneously felt completely safe and comfortable when she brought it back to the bottom line: with His stripes we are healed.
It’s not just that God’s plan to have a relationship with humans involved the necessary physical suffering of His Son, it’s that those stripes speak not only to what happened on the cross but to the Lord’s compassion for when we hurt or have been wounded. Not only does He know what pain is like, He cares.