Monday, December 10, 2007

So, how did I handle the thought I might have something wrong with me?


Not as well as I would like. As I have said, my first thought was being grateful that I didn't have a brain tumor or something. Once I got past that, things went a little downhill, I fear.

Let me get out of the way what I think was an appropriate reaction. I didn't ask "why me?" Because, let's be honest, why not me? I don't think I have a special dispensation that keeps me from having bad things happen to me. Getting upset with God felt like a millionaire whining that they were over charged by a few bucks. In actuality, if someone was going to have a medical problem, I would be a good candidate -- I have good social support, good medical insurance, and flexible work options. I am not a single mother who will have no one to watch her kids if she gets sick.

But my nose was definitely out of joint. I remember looking at my toenails and thinking that I needed to trim them. I was immediately assailed with the thought that I wasn't going to do it. I was going to let them grow until they clacked on the floor when I walked. So there! And shaving my legs? Ha! No way!

I texted my sister and told her I was never going to cut my toenails ever, ever again. "Me either!" she wrote back in true sisterly solidarity. "We will have long toenails together!"

I felt a little better.

So, how did I handle the possibility that I had a debilitating neurological condition?

Well, I shopped on Ebay, for one. It is funny how, once you start looking around, there are all kinds of things that you never knew that you needed that suddenly make a good deal of sense. Like the antique spinny condiment holder.

I thought that I would get it and put little jars in it for office supplies. You know, for paper clips and stuff. Today it looks like this ...

Sam has taken it over and I think I like his use of it better. He puts pictures in there for me. My favorite is this note I found a couple of days ago.

"I am all ways here for you, siad Sam
Love, Sam"

You can see why I don't have a whole lot to complain about.

The metal cigarette case that I thought vaguely would make a nice card case (I never have a business card when I need one) didn't. It was cheap and nothing like the picture. It wasn't worth sending back. Anyone need a cigarette case?

And I got some nice odd rings. I don't know what the sudden fascination was for rings, but there you have it.

And I got some Christmas presents. Ebay for Everyone!!

My daughter noted darkly that I Had a Problem and accused me of being addicted to Ebay. I loftily informed her that it was an upswing, but any deviation from my normal not-buying would be exaggerated.

And I went through a book buying phase from Amazon. I completed my collection of books on treatment of schizophrenia and the history of mental health treatment.

In addition to my odd spate of shopping (believe me, I am not a big shopper), I felt crabby whenever I saw someone doing something physical -- like running. I would think, snippily, when seeing a jogger -- "well, isn't that nice for you."

I think I was angry. Not at my fate or anything, but at my body. It wasn't enough that it was getting older and wrinkled, now it had to become a major topic and time-waster. All of the normal betrayals of age were driving me nuts. I hated the way I looked. I hated the way that I was tired. I hated that I was gasping after walking up two flights of stairs. I tried to line dance and almost fell over. Every time I dropped my keys or lost something, I was just soooo irritated.

And I regained the five pounds that I had lost, plus two. And I didn't care, even when I had to buy new jeans because the old ones didn't fit. In a size that I have never been in before. My body deserved stretch jeans. Ugly ones at that. I almost got a pair of 80's acid-washed tapered jeans, but stopped short of that. A moment of sanity.

And I was getting these little weird cuts and scrapes, and because of the aspirin dose I was taking, they weren't healing. I was at work and I fell into the gate and scraped my arm and bled copiously for minutes. I don't know what I did on the unit, but I was walking around with a scrape that it practically took a tourniquet to staunch. I am afraid that I am going to get MRSA, because we have periodic outbreaks of it, which is fairly disgusting. Kim, my friend and co-worker, looked at me in shock the other day and said, "What happened to your forehead!?" It was bleeding ... just lovely. And not a little.

Ewww! Ewww! Gross!

Stupid, stupid body.

Now that I am feeling better, I am less annoyed at how my body is functioning, but only just.

So, if I shopped and gained weight, what didn't I do when confronted with the possibility that I had a debilitating neurological condition?

I didn't pray.

I just couldn't.

About three weeks ago, I finally confessed this to Kim, because I knew that she had been praying for me. She asked me why I couldn't pray, and I struggled to articulate it.

I told her that I just felt like it was so ungrateful to ask for God to heal my body. It seemed petty and unnecessary. And I could not even consider getting those words out -- they lodged in my throat.

"God, I know that You have given me so much that I could never ask for anything else, but please take this one small thing away from me. I know that other people are really suffering, but this is inconvenient. I am tired. And my leg is all tingly!!"

And I know all about how we are to ask for everything and that God knows what we need before we even ask it, but I just couldn't do it. I felt weird enough asking people to pray for me.

I think that part of it is that I see people who are suffering more than I could imagine handling, every day. I know people who are looking at a life of imprisonment, who suffer from voices that torment them, from paranoia that causes them terror that I cannot imagine.

And it is not that I think Christ would grudge me the request. And I know that I am to lay all my burdens down at His feet, for He cares for me. I know that. Heart, mind, soul, spirit and to the bone. I know without a doubt that God loves me, because I can see it in all the world around me, every moment. And that He ardently desires all that is good for me.

So, why couldn't I pray about this? Not even for healing, but not at all. It was like a topic that I couldn't even broach.

Of everything I thought I would ever, ever do, this is not one of them. It never crossed my mind that I would be unable to pray. I felt mute. And my silence surprised and disappointed me.

So, the other day, I finally managed a small, tiny prayer, because Kim was right and she had taken me to task.

I just asked for Jesus to walk with me. That is all. But I knew He was already, but He likes to be asked, I think. And I said that I was grateful for His goodness.

And I felt better.

I still don't know why I couldn't pray, but I think I am past that now. My prayers are about the things that are really important -- my family, my patients, the things that I am grateful for. And I can say how grateful I am that Jesus is with me in all things -- this no more or less than anything else. That is a truth I can manage.

I have been listening to Jonny Lang, and his voice suits my soul right now. It is sweet and raw and he has a lovely, surprising falsetto that just pierces me.
Enjoy ...


Rowan said...

Bob, that is such a beautiful post. You just write so well, lassie.

Sam's note is delightful. How very moving! What a true and stalwart wee soldier. I love his table of treasures, too.

I resonate with how you feel about the running. Not in that context, but yes. It must be very frustrating for you, and you will learn more, one hopes, on Thursday about that aspect of things. Praying up a storm that you will have more of the answers you need, chica.

The Ebay shopping now...the rings sound very nice. I am angling for an Ebay ring Christmas present! Ebay trawling ought to be a sport. Trawling, but only letting real treasures fall on to the deck. Little odd things that make you feel better.

I have been Ebay trawling recently, and have bought thirteen porcelain dolls for my daughter's Christmas. I would like to type that in a weeny font, but I can't, and would like to to pretend that I put on loads of small bids, cos I would miss the end of the auctions, but that would be a big porky pie. I didn't pay much at all for them, but it got to be sort of fun. was hoping for a bidding tussle with someone, but no one else bid....

Am with you on the eighties jeans. Almost bought a pair recently, but it was your wry comment about such things which hung in the air before me, and made me put them back. Yeah, one can't help entropy and gravity, and suchlike, but tapered acid-washed jeans don't help, especially ones with elasticated waists (which I am sure your potential pair did not have!)

I deigned to look at myself in a mirror for the first time in ages, and my aunt and mother looked back at me. They do not have frizzy hair and peri-menopausal acne, though! I don't look like a picture of myself that was taken last year, and waved at a certain grey-haired singer.

Bob, thank you for Jonny lang. My, he is a handsome chiel! Was imagining him to be much older, and sort of grizzled. His lyrics are so profound and touching, as though he had seen much of life, and come to conclusions about himself, and his Faith.

The have resisted cutting mine properly for many moons. Just have this huge resentment barrier preventing the necessary snippage. A few weeks back, I bought six pairs of lovely soft expensive thick black lyvra tights, to get me through the winter. day by day, a hole would appear in the foot of each new pair. The simple solution to cut the offending two toenails was never grasped. On Sunday, matters were taken into their own hands, as my daughter, jumping about the room, caught the edge of my wee toenail in her wooly tights, and completely tore it off. Ow!

I still have not trimmed the rest though. It must be a sort of self-contained protest, at something, and a big wodge of back and leg disgruntlement, at the thought of bending. Black tights now...they are great for preventing leg-shavage necessity. I only shave mine every three years, when i have to go for my well Woman visit. I don't know why I am concered about inflicting hairy legs upon the Practise Nurse, rather than other pedestrians who might see me in a summer skirt, but there you go. With you in cyber cavewoman solidarity!

I am glad that you found the words to pray. Sometimes it is hard to pray for yourself. Am praying up a storm for you, as are all yer haverers. You have shared so much of yourself here, and what you have written will resonate with everyone reading. Your insight and honesty will certainly be of help to others seeking answers, and feeling the anxieties and frustrations of debilitating symptoms.

Am so glad you are feeling a lot better than you were, Bob. may this week bring you closer to some definite answers, and a way forward.

Bama said...

Bob- I ALWAYS struggle with praying. It's easiest when I'm praying for in a weird way, having to pray for you, makes my conversations with God a little more comfortable.

I think I struggle with prayer b/c I still don't understand the true nature of our Father. Intellctually, I know He loves me, wants to spend time with me, and is not constantly judging me...but my heart has never "gotten it".

All that to say: Your words remind me that one of the best ways to connect with Him is through thanks. I have a disease called "Me Me Me" in which I spend all of my waking time thinking of myself and dwelling on the negative things that I've done/do and the things that I feel are missing/weren't given to me/were taken away from me.

I ALWAYS forget to think of my blessings!!! Blessings like you and Rowan and Shelley.

So, here I am to tell you and the ladies and God Himself, that I'm thankful for you and your words.

shelley said...

I have been alone for 10 years. Ten years of not having a man to lean on. Ten years of not even getting ASKED ON A DATE. Ten years of not flirting (or at least...not having someone flirt back). Ten years of not having a man touch all...not even to hold my hand. Ten years.

I want a mate in life so badly that I cry...a lot. I want someone to take care of and someone who'll ask me each day..."How are you, Shelley?"

I'm not even talking Valentines and candies. I'm talking of just a physical presence of a Christian man who'll sit by me and love me.

Yet, until very recently, I couldn't pray for him.

I couldn't.

I mean, I have a job, a home, a loving family, clothes, food, a car, a dog, friends, and my salvation. What on EARTH gives ME the right to ask God for more? How selfish can I be?

And even more so...what if there is a trade-off?

What if I have to give up my family for a husband?

Do I want to risk it?

Seriously...I fear God will take one of my family members home to Heaven if I ask for more.

I think this because I feel so truly blessed already and can't imagine asking for more blessings.

But the truth is, I'm not content and I'm not happy. The reason being...I'm not putting my full faith in God. I'm not believing He will provide my heart's desire. I'm not trusting that the man He sends will be worthy of all I want. be totally honest...I'm scared of the change.

There are tons of reasons I haven't been praying.

But there is only one reason to pray.

God has said I must.

It's hard. But He knows what's in my heart anyway...why is holding back that desire any different than not confessing a sin?

I am to be honest with God.

It's funny that it's just as hard to admit a wrongdoing as it is to admit a want...and not even a lavish want.

I want a husband.

You want to be well.

How on earth can we NOT ask for those things?

They are beautiful gifts from God...we should ask for and receive them with graciousness...simply because He provided them.

Okay...I know, I know...that's all well and good...but it's still hard.

Believe me...I understand.

Every day now I say a specific prayer for the man God has for me to marry. (yes, I pray for the man in all anticipation that God IS GOING TO provide him...I don't even ask because I'm working on building my blind faith). Do I feel silly? Yup. Do I feel unworthy? Yup. But do I continue to pray? Yup.

The truth is, we aren't really going to God to give us something (health, love)...we are relying on God to guide us THROUGH something. I think that's where the real connection with God comes into play during times like these...not in the asking for something.

For me...that means not giving up. I have to have faith in God that He's going to provide for me. It might not be in the way I imagine. (Instead of a husband, I might end up with a male nurse who sits by me in the nursing home and sees me through my final hours on earth.) But He will provide...and He'll see me through this crisis of feeling alone and undesirable and scared. And that is the real crux of the matter for me.

For each person it's different.

Bob, I'm so glad you wrote this post. I've been having some down days recently...and I'm so glad that I'm not alone in my struggles to draw nearer to God.

This really gave me the opportunity to think through my despair and refocus.

Now I think I'll go cut my toenails...oh and continue praying for not only me...but for you, too...because you're totally worth it! ;)

Rowan said...

Shelley, you express yourself so eloquently, and I am will pray my socks off that you will be sent a husband that is worthy of the lovely and talented person you are.

I have been sans man for five years, and was in my late twenties before I ever had any sort of relationship in the first place, partly owing to being in a lot of physical pain at that time, from a condition subsequently diagnosed and managed. I sort of hid myself away with my books. Spending time with renaissance dramatists and literary theorists was mentally invigorating, and expanded to take up all the time I could have had. But it was not enough.

I know about the pit of loneliness, and how sitting at the bottom of it in a heap can feel. You get up,climb out, and are deeply grateful for your blessings, but it gets to you at times.

I made the mistake, non-Christian as I was then,and not asking for guidance, of choosing someone weak and yet controlling, because his vulnerability spoke to me. He was nearly forty, but still living with his parents. I could see him take a stand in a discussion, and come around to arguing the opposite case, without realising. He was clever, but malleable, and I saw he needed looking after. Sigh.

Having a marriage breakdown does make you wary, but in a good way. If I ever get into a relationship again, it won't be by setting out to charm the other party with my niceness and willingness to please. I will turn up on my blind date with unshaved legs sticking out from my skirt, and flip flops to reveal my uncut toenails.

the fear of change thing is something I relate to. I am contented and comfortable as i am, in a bumbling sort of way. I get to eat beans from the can if I want, and watch ANTM, and buy a Westlife cd, and never have anything resembling sport on the telly. The computer is all mine! And no one is making any demands on me.

Nevertheless, I am also wary that my reasons forperhaps not really wanting things to be different are owing to how things were with my ex-husband, clouding my judgement. (I have to be careful not to go on at great lengths about that! Backspace delete..:) )There are prolly plenty of nice blokes with senses of humour out there who would tolerate Westlife cds and champion cold bean consumption.

Praying for someone worthy of you is a good thing. I am going to pray that God will present you with someone smart and funny and kind. And generous of spirit. When we were first going out, my ex-husband went on at great lengths about a present he had for me.When he showed me, eventually, it was a tiny bar of chocolate. He was thrilled with himself. I am not materialistic, but it did give me a few twinges of concern. I was lonely though, so brushed that off, with a lot of other warning signs.

Now, as a Christian, I can pray that if there is someone out there for me, that they sort of have a big check mark hovering above their head. That God will send someone who is a good foil for me. My ex-husb and I were both terrible ditherers, but he was actually worse. We had a day out toghether in the car, which ended up with him in a foul mood, and me anxious over it, as neither of us could decide where we wanted to go. :D I did have one or two ideas, but they were 'just possibilities'! It makes me chuckle now, but in some ways we were too alike, and in others, there was a vast chasm between us.

I made him laugh, but it wasn't mutual. I feel that God is preparing a checklist for me, things to watch out for. Boxes to tick. He knows I am twitchy.

I am the only single person over thirty-five and under about sixty in my Church. The congregation are all pretty much middle-aged marrried couples, their kids, and students. When i joined, a few very nice men came up to chat, soon to be joined by their wives, who introuduced themselves formally as wives of the chatters. I have no interest whatsoever in anyone else's husband. Yeesh. But the frisson was out there, if only slightly, that they thought I might be. I am friendly with those good women now, and they know me and like me. It is funny how you sometimes feel like you have a big scarlet letter, D for divorcee, on yer shirt!

I have come to the conclusion that there a lot to be said, Shellz, for blind dates arranged by friends who know you well. House parties where you get to meet someone yer pal thinks ye'd like, and the option of hiding and becoming absorbed in the vol au vents and potato chips if you don't like them!

I am glad you are praying in the way that you are. Having faith in the person God will send. I am getting to that place now, with faith and trust: that it is all in God's hands.

Dr. Bob said...

Toenails are funny, no?

I look at you three with such affection -- and see the faith that is a thread connecting us. How wonderful! What nice gifts from God you are!

Rowan, glad you like Jonny -- all that talent, passion, and love for Christ come in a purty package for sure.

Bama, I am so glad that praying for me is a no-fuss way of connecting. I am the same way -- if a person tells me that they are having a problem, I say I will pray, and I do. It is effortless and sincere. And I pray for silly things, like getting a good parking space because I am late, and small things, like an idea for dinner, and for big things, like a sick child. All with no problem -- that is why not being able to pray for healing was such a surprise to me.

Thank you for sharing about the feelings that get in your way, because now we can be more specific in how to pray for you. There is no room for such self-evaluations, and I guess, for a time until you feel it, your head and spirit are just going to have to overrule your heart.

And Shelley ...

I pray for you, your health, and your future sweetie. I think it is scary to pray for something that you really want without seeming a mite ungrateful. I appreciate what you wrote, because it helped settle something in my mind about this whole health-thing. I will get back to it, but I do pray and will pray for the desire of your heart. God will answer. He always does, even when we are feeble and weak.

I love you guys -- thank you for being with me during this innnnteresting time.

Wry said...

"And I regained the five pounds that I had lost, plus two."

Delightful, Seussian construct. You've earned 40 quatloos!