Archive of ‘Life is hard sometimes’ category

I’m totally high right now

I’m totally high right now. On pain pills. Jeeze, I’ve never even tried marijuana folks. Give me some credit, I am a youth leader at a church  guys.

The thing about being high (on pain pills) is that after being on the drugs for like two or three months I started to think I was getting used to them, and by extension hiding their crazy side effects really well.

I mean ya, when I first started taking the things, I was felt really, really stoned. Like all the time. And I never tried to mask that fact.

I didn’t want anything crazy to happen and then to have someone come up to me like a week later all, “Wait, a second, you were HIGH when that happened? Dangit, I thought you really liked my chocolate and spinach cake recipe!”

Or worse, for someone to just assume I had transformed into the kind of person who has a dopey smile on their face most of the time, random outbursts of tears some of the time, and trouble thinking of the word she wants to use all the of the time.

So, I would go around telling everyone that yes, I was feeling a bit better these days, but it was only because I was taking insane amounts of pills.

Looking back on it now, I was probably so forthcoming because I was high.

Anyway, so ya, I’m pretty high right now. Well, not like, as high as I used to be, but 21 perscription pills a day is a lot for anyone’s system to handle, so even though I’m a little more used to the high levels of drugs, I’m still not really myself.  Or at least that’s what people tell me.

And by people, I mean my friend Lynn who came to visit me today. After being amazing and cooking me food and cleaning my house, she told me I looked stoned.

If I wasn’t high when she said it, I would have totally been offended by the comment.

I called my mom to ask if I looked stoned on all the drugs, and she said something about dark circles under my eyes. However, I think that has more to do with the fact when the pain pills wear off it feels like a butcher knife is lodged between my sixth and seventh ribs, and sometimes that happens in the middle of the night and so my sleep pattern pretty much sucks.

I asked my boyfriend about it, but being smart and all, he denied the whole thing and then quickly changed the subject to how much he missed me today because we hadn’t seen each other in a whole 24 hours. Well played my friend. Well played.

Anyway, it appears I’m pretty much chained to these stupid pills for at least a little while longer because nobody really knows why I hurt like hell, or how to fix it, but the pills at least kind of mask it. And I have to say, I’m really, really hate it.

I ran out a couple weeks ago and there was some drama about getting the refill a little earlier than I was scheduled to, so I had to go through a cold-turkey withdrawal AND endure the pain of a stab wound all day while I waited for it to all get sorted out.

Let’s just say I didn’t think I was going to die — I wanted to die.

To be safe, I looked up what exactly pain pill addiction means, and the internet says it’s defined as taking more than the prescribed dose to get high. I never take more than two at a time of the opiate I’m on, and I never take them for anything other than to relieve pain.

So the good news is, I’m not an illegal addict or anything. The bad news is, my body doesn’t appear to know the difference, and if this pain goes away before I do die, and I have to go off all these crazy drugs, I’m pretty sure it’s going to suck. A lot.

Whatever dude. Anyone got some munchies to snack on?

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God and pain and stuff.

I’m pretty sure that eventually one of three things will happen:

1. I will be cured and life will go back to “normal” and everyone will be happy and rainbows will appear magically and then puppies will fall from the sky and as we all walk past chocolate rivers.

2.  I will wake up one day and really grasp that this stabbing pain in my right ribs is part of my life now. That it is has become a part of my soul and has been stitched into my story and that I need to learn to live with it, and I will change accordingly.

3. I will kill myself and finally be pain free for an entire day.

More and more it’s looking like number two is going to going to win out here. Although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I still consider three more often than you’d probably feel comfortable hearing me confess.

As for number one. Well. I guess it could happen. The same way winning the lottery could happen. Or me marrying Prince Harry could happen. But it’s not looking so great.

Ya, ya, ya, God and stuff. He can do anything. I have to tell you though, he hasn’t exactly be waving the magical miracle wand for me lately these days.

I mean sure, if you’re on the outside looking in, all healthy and whatnot, and you might be all like, “Well at least you finally have some pills that help you get through the day.” Or, “At least you have a great job that’s been super flexible and willing to work with you through all this.” Or even, “Thank God you have health insurance.”

And don’t worry, I am glad that I have those things. But I’d also love it if I could, you know, walk through a Walmart without it killing the rest of my day because I’m in too much pain to do anything else. Or, you know, if I was say, “blessed” enough to be able to go into the office everyday. Heck, wouldn’t it be cool if I could just get out of bed in the morning feeling refreshed, instead of having to reach over and grab six pills and then lie there and wait an hour before I felt decent enough to get in the shower? That’d be pretty sweet.

So ya, I’m not in the greatest thankful place right now.

I’m  not even in the greatest God place right now.

I don’t understand this. I don’t understand why this is happening to me, and my faith is being tested.

I can see it sort of starting to disappear like Michael J. Fox’s family in those old photos from Back to the Future I. Parts of it are still clear, but there are other areas that are really hazy.

I’ve been praying to Him so much, but all I seem to get is dead silence on the other side.

Just. Nothingness.

I’ll be laying there in bed at 3 a.m., in agonizing pain, wishing I were dead. And I cry out to Him with everything I have inside of me. I cry out to Him to give me peace. I cry out to Him to send me help. I cry out to Him just to see if I’m all alone.

And. Nothing.

Nothing happens. The pain just gets worse. Peace never fills my heart. And all I hear is silence.

I pray for procedures to work. And they don’t. I pray for people to have some sort of understanding of what I’m going through. And they don’t. I pray for the doctors to have some wisdom. And they don’t.

I pray and I pray and I pray.

And I cannot see God in this.

What really makes me upset these days is when something, anything good happens and people are like, “Oh, that was God!”

Really? Then, where is God in this? Where is the “Oh, that was God!” in my pain? Why hasn’t He fixed me? Why am I having to endure this horrible stabbing pain? And really, why does any human being have to endure long-term pain?

I am starting to see that the number two scenario I mentioned above is the most likely outcome for me. That this is going to be my life for at least a little while. But I have no idea how to reconcile God with that situation.

Maybe He will use this for good. Maybe I need to go through this to understand something else later. Or maybe something amazing will come from this.

I cannot see any of that right now though. And from this angle, it all looks really dark.

I thought my faith was strong, but it is so much weaker than I even knew.

“I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”
— Job 3:26

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Seven things I’ve learned since being sick

1. Doctors are human. Since first going to the emergency room Feb. 4, naively believing that if  I pointed to a stabbing pain in my stomach I would be instantly diagnosed, I have had to claw my way around a medical system that has wrongly diagnosed me with things ranging from shingles to wearing the wrong bra.

I have gone through treatments that have done exactly nothing for me. I have had to go back to doctors over and over and over and over again because they were dismissing my symptoms and then I have had to find new doctors. Every specialist I have seen has diagnosed me with whatever they specialize in, regardless of how much if varies from my previous diagnosis. Every specialist appears to have been wrong. And even though they’re charging you and  your insurance company $300 for a 10 minute visit, they still often come off like you’re totally appropriate questions about your body are annoying.

2. Insurance companies are as bad as everyone says they are. They wrongly code things and charge me $400 for immediate care visits that should be $30. They apply everything to crazy high deductibles, and then after you meet that, they still apply things to your yearly limit. They don’t apply co-pays to anything. And they make it impossible to get things pre-approved. Try explaining to your neurologist that you can’t get your MRI pre-authorized because your insurance is based in Michigan, where your company headquarters is, but your hospital is based in Illinois and the two can’t seem to connect. I may have insurance, but I still have thousands of dollars of medical bills to pay from all this mess, and it’s only June 5.

3. Being in constant physical pain drains the life out of  you. It sucks your happiness from your soul. It makes you want to give up. And it all happens so much sooner than you’d expect. Before any of this happened, I would have thought that four months of daily physical pain was not that long. I would have assumed that leaning on my faith and my loved ones would get me through it. And I would have thought that I could have kept my hope.

I would have been wrong.

It takes about three weeks for the realization to set in that your life is changing, and after one month the depression starts. For me, April was a completely lost month. It was before they had me on a sleeping pill strong enough to handle the situation, and before I had any relief from the pain at all. I was suicidal. Looking back, I’m not sure what kept me going. And even today, sitting here, typing this, while stabbing pain shoots through my right ribs, it’s hard to tap into that thing that all of us have that keeps us breathing.

4. Priorities come into focus very quickly. As the daily pain took over my life, everything around me has started to slip through my fingers, and I’m only able to grab hold of the things I really need. There are small things, like folding laundry and doing the dishes on a daily basis that just don’t happen. Showering daily takes too much energy, and I have to hand over my car keys whenever I’m with anyone over 16 because driving hurts like a stab wound hurts.

But there are big things too. Suddenly I have found myself working from home three to four days a week for my full-time job. And with my youth ministry work, I’m only leading on Sundays. All the leadership meetings during the week, and the bible studies have disappeared from my life. And actually, sometimes even the Sunday classes are hard. There’s weeks when we just play a game the entire night for youth group. Or when I’m too sick to get to morning sunday school and my boyfriend has to lead at the last minute. Before I was in pain all the time, I never, ever would have ever dreamed of cutting back on my ministry work.

5. Cutting back on my ministry work, does not mean cutting back on God. This lesson had to be nailed into my head with a hammer. And I doubt that anything beyond constant stabbing pain in my ribs would have done it. But I have learned it regardless. I know now that scaling back at church is separate from scaling back on my faith. That pulling away from my responsibilities there is different from my relationship with God.

In the beginning I wondered if this whole thing was the Devil trying to get me to stop my work there. If “the enemy” saw all the good work that was going on with the youth group and he was pulling a Job on me, and taking away my health to see what would happen. I worried that if I gave in, I would be in a way giving into the Devil. But the pain has driven home another lesson for me. That God loves me for me and he knows my pain, and he understands. He understands when I can’t get out of bed to go to church because I feel like there’s a metal knife in my ribs. He, if no one else, understands when I need to pull away from my work there to focus on healing. And God, and probably God alone, truly feels how horrible it is to live with this constant pain.

6. We all need help on this little blue planet. I’m not so great at asking for help. And my chronic pain is such that when you see me, you might blink and miss it. You might think to yourself, “She looks pretty healthy to me.” And so, I have struggled to find help I desperately need right now. I have reached out in every way I know how, but that hasn’t always been enough.

I have been leaning like dead weight on my mom and my sister and my grandma and I am truly thankful for family that’s here for me when my life is so dark. They live two hours away, but it seems like my mom still folds all my laundry and my sister is always helping me out with the youth group and I’m pretty sure my grandma’s prayers are the reason I haven’t committed suicide yet. They are the trinity of love in my life right now and I only wish I could see them more often. They give me strength when they are near me, and it gives me hope to know that they would do anything in their power to make me better.

I have also depended on my brother Steve, who lives with me. He has brightened my spirits just by being the only other human being I see many days. And, because he has lived with me for a couple years, he has seen the before and after me, and knows how sick I truly am. He understands how many days I don’t leave the couch because of the pain. He knows how hard it is for me to get to get to the grocery store. And he never judges me for going days without showers.

I have also relied on my boyfriend Eric to talk to me all day on the phone, everyday. Especially on the days when I can’t leave the house. I have called him at three in the morning, crying in pain. I have vented to him about the craziness of the medical system, and he has sat with me at many, many doctors appointments. He has argued for more aggressive treatments on my behalf. And,  he has also done everything possible to try and take my mind off the situation with lots and lots and lots of greats dates. Maybe more important than any of that, he has stayed with me despite it all.

7. Sometimes prayer doesn’t work how you want it to. I have prayed to get better 1,943 times. I have prayed on my hands and knees. I have prayed while peeing on the toilet. I have prayed while sobbing in my bed, unable to find any position that is comfortable. I have said the Our Father during MRIs and Intercostal Nerve Block procedures. I have prayed while contemplating suicide in the car.

I have prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed. And I honestly don’t know anymore if God is listening. But I hope He is.

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