Limping Along

11:27 AMHeather

The pain started suddenly one night while I sat at the dinner table.  It brought tears to my eyes, it was so sharp and sudden.  I limped to the living room floor and tried to stretch it out.  I spent the next few days on a heating pad, at every opportunity.  I babied the injury, a sharp shooting and burning pain radiating from my lower back through my buttocks, all the way to my foot on my right side.  

And so, I first encountered the joy of sciatica in November 2011.  That episode passed soon enough, and I returned to my efforts at boot camp, three mornings a week.  Things went along fairly nicely for months, until another flare-up in the fall of November 2012.  I didn't realize that this is where the real battle began.  

The pain was worst in the mornings, climbing or crawling out of bed, stiff and sore.  The days I worked out, it felt better, once I could get it stretched out and iced and seemingly "work the kinks out."  With the hare brain idea to start training for a 5K, I found myself fighting to whip this sciatica into shape and show it who was boss.  My regular chiropractor visits helped.  As my core was strengthened and my body became more fit, I felt better.  I even went for about three months with no pain after a round of oral sterioids.  

But, July 25, 2013, it came back with a vengeance.  I know the exact date because I was packing for a trip.  The pain was nearly constant.  I went from leaving my back brace behind to wearing it every waking moment.  I kept trying all the things I'd been doing.  Stretching.  Icing.  Running.  Working out.  It all seemed to help a bit, at least getting me through the day to function.  

I don't think I realized how much control this sciatic pain had taken over my life until that last day.  That Sunday when I couldn't shake it, stretch it, or tame it.  I could find no relief.  And so I cried uncle.  I threw in the towel and cried out for God to help me, once and for all, because I'd had enough.  I couldn't ignore it one more day.  

If you want to know the miraculous story of the surgery just 5 days after that, check it out here.  It's truly as that blog title says--a "Who but God?" story.  Every detail lining up to bring me healing.  I mean, wake up in recovery post-surgery, and all sciatic pain was GONE kind of healing.

Lest you think I keep replaying this back surgery thing ad nausem, I have a point here today, bloggy friends.  It's my follow-up.  And I think it's important to share this new insight.

In the first days after my surgery, I found myself sitting, standing, and moving gingerly, out of habit.  Not because of the surgery pain, but because of how I'd grown so accustomed to the pain that I had been compensating in ways I didn't even realize.  I had a certain way I slept.  And turned over.  And stood. Or sat.  Protectively.  Slowly.  Because I had this pain that had literally taken over my life.  It impacted the way I did everything physically.  And it took a toll on me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

The truth of it is that I never realized how handicapped I'd become until I was freed from it.  I never realized how this ruptured disc had come to sit on that nerve and caused major upheaval to my daily routine.  Because it was gradual and became so constant, I really never noticed how bad it had gotten until I was at wits end. I was stubborn with it.  Ignoring it.  Deceiving myself that it wasn't that bad.  Really.  I was fine.  I'd be okay.  I'd get it back under control.  

Or at least, I thought I was hiding it.  But I'm a horrible actor.  Because every time that I'd so much as flinch when moving around after the surgery, my kids would grimace and say, "OH!  Your sciatica again?" I could see the panic on their faces that maybe the surgery hadn't worked after all.  A friend told me that she couldn't bear watching me walk and sit just weeks before the surgery because my level of pain was so obvious.

I mean, I knew it was bad.  And I complained.  But I sorta just accepted it as something that I was putting up with.  Until I couldn't.  For another moment.

And this makes me wonder.  

Can you relate?  Are there wounds or habits or broken relationships or addictions or sins that are sitting on the very nerve of who you are, and it is causing you to walk around with limits that aren't necessary?  

Are you limping through your days, compensating and ignoring the pains, and pressing on, at half-speed, when maybe--just maybe--if you could reach that point of crying out for help, then you might find relief?

Will it take you getting to wits end?  Will you get to the point that you cannot even function before you will reach out and admit it and search out answers and help?  Are you sorta shoving your fingers in your ears and calling out, "La! la!  la!  I am not listening!" to the warnings signs and aches that tell you that you are in need of assistance?

What are the weights--the ruptured discs, if you will--that sit upon the nerve of your well-being?  Of your joy?  Of your peace?  Of your hope?  What is causing you to limp around instead of running your race?  We all have them.  We all have aches and pains that need healing.  But sometimes, I've realized, we let them take over before we acknowledge them and surrender to help.  

Maybe the cloud of depression is sucking the sunshine from your soul.  And you're afraid to ask for counseling or consider medications.  If you just ignore it, maybe it will go away.

Or maybe there is a brokenness and wounds from a relationship that are impacting how you interact with everyone.  But you'd rather just shove it under the rug, thank you very much.  Confrontation isn't your thing and it's not even that bad.  

But maybe it is. And maybe--just maybe--reaching out to a friend, family member, pastor, counselor, or anyone you trust could bring you healing?  

Healing doesn't come fast.  Sure, I felt no sciatic pain in recovery.  But, it took me weeks to heal from the incisions and the surgery to remove the ruptured disc.  There was pain and a need to rest and to take care of myself and to basically halt as part of my healing process.  I've also discovered that the surgeon was right.  Damaged nerves take a long time to heal.  I'm learning what irritates that nerve and when to pay attention and just plain rest.  Because it is necessary to the healing process.  

Let me remind you, dear one, that we have a Great Physician and a Wonderful Counselor who paid the price to make you whole.  He desires well being and joy for us.  Abundant life.  He has many tools at his disposal.  Professionals and tools and treatments and medications.  All designed to assist you on the journey.  It's not a quick fix to cut away that which has become a weight that hinders you.  But, limping along and compensating when healing is available isn't a great option either.

So, I beg you.  I ask you.  Please consider crying out to Him about your weaknesses.  About that which is holding you back.   Please consider surrendering to the process of surgery.  To the cutting away of the painful problems and weights and wounds and addictions and sins and habits.  Don't let them bring you to the end of your rope.  Ask for help.  

Because here's what I've learned.  I didn't have to let it fester. I didn't have to let it take over.  I didn't have to stick out a stiff upper lip. I don't have to try to be strong. I didn't have to be stubborn. There was an answer.  And He was mighty to save.  He has rejoiced over me with singing.  He delights over me.  And He has quieted me with His love (Zephaniah 3:17).  

I'm still healing from this surgery.  And learning.  And growing.  And pressing on.  I'm also running again.  Literally.  I've got to take it slow and watch for those signs of nerve irritation.  But, as my feet pound the pavement and I feel my body moving, I realize something.  Running is so much easier without a ruptured disc sitting on a nerve.  

Why run injured, when we can run healed?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off EVERYTHING that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us.  Hebrews 12:1

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