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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Pain

My back/leg situation remains unchanged as I wait for my MRI and consult with a neurosurgeon. I find that I can just manage the pain with a dose of Vicodin that is small enough to allow me to remain conscious, but I find that standing up after sitting or lying down for awhile is tear-jerkingly painful. Waking up in the morning and getting up feels as if every leg muscle in their entirety were cramping up and further someone had doused it with kerosene and lit it on fire. If I endeavor to suffer that long enough, I find that the nerve will settle down and become mostly tolerable. And though it will flare up from time to time, I'm able to actually move around. Oddly enough, when the pain from standing gets to be too bad, I can go into a squat and my pain is relieved instantly. Additionally, the pins and needles brand of numbness in my foot and lower leg is constant, but thankfully has not gotten worse.

I keep finding myself thinking: some folks experience pain like this (and often much worse) all the time with and with no end in sight. I had a fishing partner when I lived along the Skykomish River who suffered a debilitating back injury in a car accident and went onto disability. He's now free to fish whenever he wants and received a rather substantial payout from the accident, but he lives with back pain and sciatica constantly and is admittedly a Vicodin addict...doctors have told him there is nothing more they can do for him.

I keep thinking how frightening such news must be when you hear that your condition will not get better and there is nothing more that can be done. Which is better: to learn you have 6 months to live (much of which will be in pain), or 40 years to live in terrible pain?

I asked previously what I might learn from experiencing this pain...well thus far I've learned that I'm a selfish jerk. (Like I needed to learn that? Well, yeah, we selfish jerks need to be reminded). I think pain strips away facades we have put up and it opens up old wounds and it tears off our clothing that we'd hoped would hide out naked ugliness. I find that I am rather oozing with passions...so any hopeful notions that this pain would garner me some grand elder-like insights have been quickly swept away. For example, I've found myself being terribly short with the boys...unfairly so. There is a reason for such impatience, but there is no excuse...if you understand what I mean.

I'm in agony as I'm standing and trying to get the boys to do something and they are of course in their typical "lolly-gagging" mode. I normally have little patience for such antics, but now in the midst of it, I as I look at the chair that will bring my relief I cannot muster ANY patience. I bark and snarl like a rabid dog, making for the chair and cursing the universe for denying me my right to a pain free life. Boy, talk about an entitlement society...or maybe it's just me.

Anyway, pain is a tremendous test of our character. Some, I expect are able to suffer with dignity, while others may (like me) lash out at those closest to them in part for the perceived injustice of it all. Others will seek grand displays of sympathy (hey look at me blogging about my agonizing leg and back pain!) and perhaps we may find opportunity for a little of all three. For my part, any dignity I've displayed is probably nothing more that the remains of a facade left intact through the miracles of modern pharmaceuticals.

Well, maybe I am learning something.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 3:21 PM [+]
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3 comments


3 Comments:

Go easy on yourself, dude. Chronic pain is terrible. If you were lying there with a bone jabbing out of your flesh, I don't think people would be too upset if you peppered your speech with a few profanities and weren't as long suffering as you should be. So, take it easy...

Best regards,
Mike

By Anonymous Mike, at 11:17 AM  

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LOL...yeah but at least with a compound fracture people would be too busy staring at the gore and worrying less about my bitterness at the world!

But fret not Mike, I give myself far too much grace as it is...peppered with an occasional blog post comprised of more short-lived and sober judgment.

:)

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 2:06 PM  

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Hi Jim, I read your blog with much empathy. Because I have reached blessed retirement, I don't need to be as intellectually sharp as I once was so Neurontin in its generic form is given to me at night to help calm the pain for sleep. But I know what you mean - although the pain tolerance, etc. varies from person to person. Once in a while I wake screaming (except that the C-PAP muffles the noise. It is extremely hard to not be a crabby soul at such times.

I am hoping the neurologist will be able to help - depending, of course, on what they find on the MRI. I first had epidural injections into the individual nerves they thought were the problem (as they exit the spinal cord), one side worked very well, the other didn't so they told me they had chosen the wrong nerve. However, a blessed event occurred On December 11, 2007. I went in for an epidural injection and they injected the entire lumbar spinal cord area. Other than an occasional minor twinge, I have been pain-free as I get up in the morning. It is possible to stand straight, even when I walk. It is a miracle. They said I can have up to 4 of these a year (if it is anything like the one side that worked before, it would be more like 1 in four years) and that I have a 50/50 chance of making it the rest of my life without surgery to free those entrapped nerves. Now if I only can stop growing bone spurs and bridges which are doing the narrowing. LOL

Just to let you know that there is hope. With you being much younger than I, there are surgical options that they are able to try without worrying about the length of time under anesthesia. Location of the problem makes a lot of difference too. Sitting relieves the pain, so does a maneuver called a pelvic tilt, which only works on lumbar spine, I believe.

I am glad you give yourself grace on this. It wears down the self-control just because there is no relief. God be with you as you try to hold onto equilibrium when all you really want to do is scream!

Your boys love you much - please know they will continue to do so!

Carol

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:44 AM  

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