I’ve been struggling with intense pain in my side, ribs and back for about three weeks. I initially thought it’d been caused from our fun bowling date but after a recent visit to my chiropractor, I’m not sure it even matters.
Not so important when it happened, but how I’ve chosen to handle it.
For over three weeks, this intense pain has at times been so very painful that I’ve yelped like a little doggie when sneezing, coughing, yawning, laughing or even sometimes simply breathing. I would take an Ibuprofen (800 mg) at night, let it knock me out and wake up with a little bit of relief and then go out and act as if things were normal during the day – essentially worsening the strain, pull and pain.
I saw a general practitioner to have x-rays taken two weeks into the ordeal and she told me that it was likely connective tissue or a strained muscle and that it would take weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks to heal. That I should ice it and rest. She wouldn’t prescribe anything heavier than what I was already taking since it already had such a heavy affect on me. (I know, light weight, right?)
Yesterday, I returned to my chiropractor for my second visit in four weeks where I was convicted, enlightened and found relief.
You see, my doctor is not your ordinary chiropractor. And I have nothing against those who practice in the more traditional sense, but this one that I visit, is a believer. He and his wife (he cracks the joints, she runs the office) are a dynamic duo who take every Tuesday and weekends off and serve the clients well.
When you walk in there is Christian music blaring, they offer natural products from a small business owner that ranges from lotions to lip balm and includes essential oils. He has lots of natural pills and a room with an x-ray machine, but what makes their practice so unique is that he listens.
It’s like therapy.
And before you poo-poo it for yourself, consider it may be just the kind of thing that more of us need. Doctors, professionals who listen before leaping on to the next client, customer, patient. He listens to you talk before making an adjustment. He denounces regular diagnoses (“this will take weeks and weeks and weeks to heal”) and instead prays and lays scripture over them breaking the negative, the curse, the stagnant belief.
Mister came in the room with me and observed (and asked some science-y questions because well, he’s a science-y person too) and was able to help me with my very painful – but effective – homework as a result of being in the room with me. Let me also be honest and share that I need the accountability too.
Y’all, when I walked into the doctor’s office yesterday, you might have thought that I was trying out for a part as the Hunchback of North Dallas. I was guarding or protecting the space that had become so painful. It’s what I’m used to doing.
When there has been pain in my life, it’s not often been safe for me to share it with others or to ask for their help to resolve the wound. Some of that broken mindset has been that it’s easier for me to suppress the pain and grind through it than to tell someone I need help or time to rest and heal since I will most likely be viewed or treated as weak. Like there is something wrong with me for having the problem in my side and back that is contagious. That the injury is made up in my mind. And the most dangerous, difficult thought (that makes my palms sweat as I type it) is that you will be thinking I’ve brought it upon myself and deserve the pain.
Which quite honestly is the worst of what I think of myself and carry inside myself but am trying so desperately – like the rest of us – to keep out of sight. Why? I believe it’s because we manage pain in our culture, schools, hospitals, homes and churches, by moving at break neck speeds, avoiding slowing down enough to dig into the heart/soul issues that are the root of the pain that we see come to the surface.
Well, my chiropractor don’t play them games.
After touching the area lightly and having me try to leap across the room to get away (it hurt y’all). He stopped and asked me this, “Do you trust me?”
To which I replied, “To do what?”
He replied, “To help you.”
And I had to admit that I did. I don’t drive 40 minutes one direction to see a doctor I don’t trust, that I don’t believe can’t help me. He’d already been proven last year when I was recovering from a blood transfusion and after a hysterectomy.
But trusting someone doesn’t mean there won’t be pain.
He talked us through every step, every touch, every tweak, every single move. He asked questions along the way. He encouraged me when I did the hard work (of not punching him and running from his office to get away from the pain) and quoted scripture to me to address the deep soul issues that my body were holding on to.
In the first few minutes of evaluating me – how I was standing, holding myself and my pain – he was able to tell me what my nervous system was telling him; that I was buried in being self-conscious and that I was loaded down with the belief that I’m unworthy.
In the quiet spaces and in all of the transition that’s come in this new year, this is exactly what I’m struggling with. Fighting and wrestling against. Confused and conflicted by…
And God knows that I’m wrestling with these things. And wants to bring me through them to something better. Something closer to Him, His will, His purpose, His plan for me. Sitting me down, forcing me to rest and be on my back to breath and pray through the pain, to find the things to be grateful for. To be needy and real about it.
It’s not easy. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found themselves carrying pain in their bodies and just coping with it. Just going on and pushing through because we believe we have to or because we don’t know who will be there for and with us as we stop what we do for them to take care of ourselves.
But I learned a valuable thing in the chiropractor’s office yesterday.
Protecting the pain only grows the pain. You must deal with it, not just the symptoms but the root, the cause, the reason.
This is mental health, this is self-care, this is spiritual health, this is war.
It’s the fight of our lives. Learning to face and defeat pain with help from God, through prayer and the trusted ones around us who will help you fight to survive.
To survive the pressure, the wounds, the negative thoughts, the expectations that weigh us down; it’s overwhelming and manifests itself as sickness and pain inside of us. And we need to fight.
How I’m fighting?
I’m repeating the verses he spoke in his office over and to me:
I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. | Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)
God gave us his Spirit. And the Spirit doesn’t make us weak and fearful. Instead, the Spirit gives us power and love. He helps us control ourselves. | 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIRV)
I will whisper parts of these verses into the pain when I want to curse. Or when I want to submit myself to the pain, I instead say the opposite of the things my body is currently revealing; I am worthy, I care what You think of me God, I do want to be healed.
I am pursuing the very things that terrify me – writing vulnerably in this space, dreaming boldly with Mister about our future, having difficult conversations with people I love and care for, saying goodbye to being in relationship with those who drain more than build – I am stepping into painful, terrifying things and slowly breaking off fear’s grip on my body and in my soul.
I’m fighting intentionally and in less than 24 hours, I am already in a better place.
The pain has subsided by 65% and I am able to sit up and walk and grab a coffee mug from the cupboard, comb and wrap my hair and type this post from a chair (not lying prone in our bed). I have been doing my homework – pressing into the pain, breathing deeply, Mister has dug a back massage tool into my back twice since the visit yesterday, I’ve applied oils and I’ve continued to utter the words above to myself, sometimes in my head and sometimes aloud.
This is a new part of my path toward freedom in Christ.
Being able to identify the pain I’m experiencing and
having making time to address it.
It won’t be healed in a day, but I no longer believe I’ll simply be riddled with pain for weeks and weeks and weeks to come. This diagnosis has gone to the nerves, the joints, the muscle, to the soul for healing that will last.
What about you? What pain are you ignoring? What’s happening in your soul, in the core of who you are that needs to be called out and released so you can get on to living the life you were meant to live?