Being one that is chronically ill, pain becomes a multi-faceted word. As of today, I am 27 years old and have undergone nearly 40 surgical procedures; with each one bringing me face to face with many types of pain.
As if that weren’t enough, two of my close friends, one I consider a true sister, passed away in as many years.
I learned at an early age, pain is a fixture in life. In 1998, on my 14th birthday, I was in Madison, Wisconsin for a doctor’s appointment at a prestigious children’s hospital. It was on that day that I was diagnosed with Lupus and kidney failure. I was to immediately start IV steroidal and chemotherapy treatments. Surprisingly enough, despite the physical pain, it was the emotional fallout that hurt the worst. For a 14 year old girl, the nearly 80lbs the steroids helped me gain caused so much social damage, I would have gladly taken a million IV’s instead of facing my peers. I was so overwhelmed with pain on every level, physical, emotional and spiritual that hearing the words “this is temporary” fell on deaf ears.
However, like most things during your teenage years, it was temporary. Not my Lupus or kidney disease, mind you, but the pain in those moments was. Yes, surgery is painful and most of the time, for quite a while – but, you heal. Yes, using needles so large they should be illegal 3 times a week is painful – but after a few hours, they are removed. Physical pain tends to be treatable. Maybe not curable, but as a race, we humans can make it tolerable. So when I was asked to share my thoughts on pain, my mind went the route I am most familiar with: physical pain. That is the easy kind, the kind that, for me, eventually goes away.
But, the real pain for me comes from loosing two great friends. One I learned passed away because she was a victim of murder; her spouse being the number 1 suspect. The other, my very best friend, due to health complications on an Easter morning. For me, these are pains I cannot shake. They are pains I am promised will get lighter. The are also pains that I am afraid to heal, because as I have learned from my experience with physical pain – healing hurts as well, if not more.
I could write a novel how to handle physical pain, but am clueless as to handle pain in this capacity. On my closet mirror at home, I have written “Just because they are in Heaven, it does not mean they are separated from us, because we are all part of the Body of Christ.” It was something my pastor here in Florida had once said in a sermon and it brings me comfort.
So, day by day, needle by needle, memory to memory – I heal a little bit more. You think I would know by now that all healing, no matter the kind takes time – but those that know me best know how impatient I can be. All I can do is thank God that He created the healing aspect of life; because He certainly wasn’t obligated to! That along with knowing that we as Christians will undoubtedly experience total healing and the existence He intended for us with Him in Heaven – makes the pain all the more bearable.