Job 4:14 - Fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake.
It started as a small tremor.
Whenever he held up his hand, it would shake. He thought that it was just a case of nerves. He was often nervous at social events.
But then the tremor moved on to his right hand, then his entire left and right arm. He was getting a little worried by now, which tended to make him more nervous which exasperated the tremors.
His wife noticed also and wanted him to see a doctor. But he would have none of that. Perhaps in the back of his mind, if he saw a doctor then it would make it real.
One day his head began to shake. This was very alarming to him, but he still refused to believe it was anything but his nerves.
Then, he fell.
The shaking was taking over his whole body, and he was having trouble walking. His wife begged him to go to the doctor. After the fall, he didn’t need to be convinced that he needed to see a doctor.
The doctor examined him and performed several tests which showed what the man was afraid of – he had Parkinson's disease.
The doctor explained the disease to him saying that Parkinson’s does not only cause tremors. Other symptoms included moving slowly and loss of voluntary movement, becoming stiff in the parts of the body affected (he was already feeling this), having trouble standing or walking and affecting balance and coordinating movement, fewer facial expressions, not being able to multitask and trouble concentrating, depression and anxiety, trouble sleeping, low blood pressure when standing, being constipated, trouble with speech and swallowing, unexplained pains, drooling and loss of smell.
To the man and his wife this long list was overwhelming, but his doctor was patient and when explaining the symptoms one way was confusing, the doctor discussed it another way.
His wife then asked what the doctor could do to treat the disease. The doctor told her there was no cure for Parkinson’s, but if her husband had come in sooner he would’ve had more treatment options. The older the man got, the more difficult to treat. The wife told the doctor that she’d tried to make an appointment earlier, but her husband had refused.
Her husband let out a loud sigh, and asked if there was anything he could do now. The doctor then explained some treatment options such as the drug levadopa and other medications which could control symptoms for many years, but the older the patient got the shorter the lifespan. The man could also try a surgery called deep brain stimulation (DBS) where they place a wire in the brain for stimulating parts of the brain affected.
Learning that you or someone you care about has Parkinson’s Disease can be tough to hear. But the more you know about the disease the better the chances that you can detect symptoms so as to see a physician for earlier on for treatment. Healthlife.com posts the article, “Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention and More,” which can help the reader become more knowledgeable about the symptoms so as to be treated sooner. It also lists treatment options.
When someone begins to show symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease it can be scary. But with the right doctor matched up with the best treatment, there is hope.
My father was the man in this story. It was hard watching him lose weight and seeing him shaking and losing the ability to stand up without help. But I knew that our family wasn’t alone fighting this disease.
Take a look at the verse above. The Scripture talks about when a man named Job, in the Bible, lost everything including all of his family except his wife. Job had reason to feel like the world was shaking. But he turned to God and in the end he received more than he had in the beginning. When we lose a part of our lives to a debilitating disease, it’s important to remember that God has strengthened many people who were struggling with a chronic illness. Turn to him and he will give you that strength and peace to know you’re not alone in it.
Psalm 107:29 - He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.
You’re sitting in your chair when all of a sudden it feels like you’re standing on the deck of a ship heading out to sea.
The deck moves and sways and spins through the storm, while your stomach rolls with it and nausea increases.
Your vision blurs as ocean spray reaches over the side of the ship and into your eyes.
Your ears ring to the rhythm of the oars as they move the ship forward then become silent where not even the wind is heard.
As the ship climbs the top of a wave your ears become clogged and you feel pressure as the ship dives down off the wave.
Your feet are unsteady and you begin to slip toward the railing when you shake your head and realize you’re having another episode of vertigo.
Vertigo can be caused by various illnesses and conditions. Here’s a few I’ve experienced:
To find a complete list of causes of vertigo along with treatment options such as medications and physical therapy, read the article on medicalnewstoday.com, “Everything you Need to Know About Vertigo.”
Though vertigo can cause you to feel uneasy while your head spins and panic rises causing you to lose your balance; know that God is able to still your heart and mind as you weather another attack. He can hush the seas of instability and bring you safely to the shore of balance.
Genesis 3:16 - To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
They say that the pain in labor is forgotten the moment after the baby is born, because love fills your whole being.
But what about the woman who also battles chronic pain? This pain is not just for a moment. It’s here to stay.
And as your baby grows you pick him up throughout the day to care for his needs, but all the while pain grips you as you do so.
They grow from baby to toddler and the child wanders around oblivious to the tears his mother sheds of joy to have a child, but also tears of pain. You begin to wonder, as the child grows, how you will keep up while raising him.
Time marches on and soon that toddler is walking and getting into all kinds of mischief. But you don’t mind, because you aren’t able to care for him and keep up with household chores even though you feel guilty because you can’t.
Before you know it, your child is ready to start kindergarten. It can be hard to watch your child walk into school with enthusiasm, but now you have a chance to rest while he is gone.
Things begin to change in elementary and middle school. Your child loves school and wants to be involved in sports or music. There are games to watch, and concerts to hear, but unlike most parents, you aren’t able to attend all of these important events. And there is also something else – your child notices. He notices your absence from events. He also begins to resent you as he is limited to after school activities, because you have no strength to drive your child to them.
In high school, as it happens in even ordinary cases, your child becomes ashamed of you. Oh, they don’t say it out loud, but you know it’s there as your child no longer cares if you attend events and in fact asks you not to bother to be there.
Your heart hurts
And bleeds with shame.
How do you cope with chronic pain and raising your child? What are some things that can help you? Scarymommy.com provides some ideas in their article, “6 Things to Know When You’re Parenting Through Chronic Pain.” Their ideas include understanding that you’re not alone and you don’t have to parent the same way other parents do.
The Bible verse above talks about having pain in childbirth. You’re chronic pain in a similar way will be terrible, but raising a child has so many beautiful memories that you can choose to try. Don’t feel limited and think you can’t enjoy your life as you raise your child because you can. There is going to be pain no matter how you wish there wasn’t, but just as the article above writes about don’t give up.
Colossians 1:29 - To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Today you have to fix breakfast, drive the kids to school, try to get to work on time, finish a project that was due yesterday and finish two more that you have to do today, pick up something for dinner, help the kids with homework, get them off to bed, wash dishes and get everything for the kids laid out for the morning.
That’s what you have to do, but you ran out of time and didn’t finish everything.
For the average person having too much to do is a normal part of life and isn’t a big deal. But for the person who deals every day with a chronic health condition, it can feel overwhelming.
When you’re in pain or sick much of the time, it tears away at your energy level and your emotions. With a lower energy level you can feel tired all day which decreases how much you are able to complete. You may also find that you not only have a lower energy level, but your emotions spew out all around you. Sometimes that spray is dousing your loved ones as well.
So how can I retain as much energy as I can each day to help me finish what I need to complete? Find some ideas from breakingmuscle.com's article, “8 Natural Ways to Fuel Your Energy Level Through the Day.”
As you include, some of the suggestions from above throughout your day, you will find your energy going up and along with that will come the ability to finish more of the work you have to complete.
And know that, as the Bible verse above says, when you labor, God will powerfully give you the energy to complete your tasks for the day and have some left over.
Job 3:25 - What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.
Suddenly, the sidewalk is racing toward you. You have only a second to react and then, what you dread has happened – you take a hard fall.
Falling can indeed be a real occurrence to dread for those who battle chronic pain. When the sidewalk rises up to greet you, it can cause further damage to a back already racked with pain or cause another area of your body to be injured and added to your list of areas subject to chronic pain.
What’s a person to do? Do you keep your eyes on the ground with each step you take and miss out on seeing the beauty of the world around you?
Do you walk slowly being careful as you move one foot in front of the other?
Or do you decide to stay indoors so you don’t risk getting hurt?
However, staying indoors may not be the answer. Your home contains places that are ready to cause you to trip and find the floor suddenly flying towards you.
Life can’t be lived looking for those dreaded ways you can suffer another injury. Life is filled not only with the chance to be injured, but also the chance to have fun or find a new adventure.
So how do we keep a balance from needing to be careful with looking for ways to enjoy life? Find some ideas on tinybuddha.com in their article, “Body Betrayal: How to Cope with Chronic Pain and Illness,” such as focusing on what you can do not what you can't.
Also, remember that even if what you dread comes knocking at your door you don’t have to be afraid. God is right there with you and will help calm your fears.
Mark 6:31 - Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
We’re taught in this culture to push ourselves. Many people are working two jobs or at least a great deal of overtime. I understand that sometimes this is the only way to survive financially, but a person who suffers from chronic pain or an illness is unable to keep up this pace for very long. And this is the result:
It’s like being in a space ship on Star Trek and your shield’s going down. You leave yourself as an open target.
“Scotty, we need more power!”
“Aye, Captain. But you used it all up.”
If you burn out, you’ll get nothing done. Avoiding overdrive means a less stressful lifestyle, and productivity will actually go up.
Haven’t you noticed that when you’re in a hurry, you’re more likely to make mistakes and then have to back track? Also, you’ll be in a better place physically.
So what can we do to help this situation? We must adjust our expectations. Our expectations of ourselves and those we have of others. Below you’ll find a link to a great article on expectations. It helps to explain why people today expect so much, but aren’t willing to give back.
The Bible verse above shows that even Jesus and his disciples needed a break from all they were doing. Jesus knew that preventing his disciples from going into overdrive was necessary and important. His example is a good one for us to follow today especially in our “overdrive” culture.
Do you have trouble with pushing yourself too hard or do you ever get stuck in overdrive? I’d love to hear from you.
Job 36:15 - But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction
Are we a collection of illnesses and diseases? Is this who we have become? There has to be a balance.
You have a choice, while living with chronic pain or illness, to see yourself in either a negative or positive way. Don’t see yourself as just a person defined by the pain or disease. Don’t surrender and focus just on your pain, but take back the ground you’ve lost and see yourself as a stronger person because of it.
You may have been told that you have a disability. That somehow you are weaker. But if you take the first three letters off of disability what do you have? Ability.
Every day that you go on despite of the pain is an achievement that you have accomplished. Take this badge of courage, but don’t just put it in the dresser drawer. Take that courage and make a difference by pouring yourself into someone else’s life.
They can learn from you and your experiences. Even if it’s a small suggestion, it has the potential to change another person’s life, as you show them how you balance a life of pain.
Though it may seem difficult, find a way to praise God in spite of the pain. He sees your suffering and if we continue to look to him, he will help us get through the pain. Let your focus be on him and he will give you the ability to go on.
Do you have a story about pouring yourself into a person with a disability? If so, would you be willing to share that story? Click on the blue “comments” below to respond. I look forward to hearing from you.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.