Isaiah 64:4 - Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
The alarm goes off. I groan and roll myself toward the edge of the bed and sit up.
My eyes scan the room and latch onto my dresser and the clock sitting on it. I shake my head. I must be still dreaming, I’d thought. But I wasn’t.
The lines separating the dresser drawers instead of being straight were at a diagonal. So we’re the numbers on my clock, as if there was a shadow making the numbers three dimensional.
I’d staggered to my bathroom, clutching the door and then the side of the counter. As I tried to follow my morning routine, I knew I had to get to my optometrist, but I didn’t trust myself to drive, so I’d called my care giver and my doctor.
I’d been able to get an emergency appointment, and spent the next hour with my doctor running tests on my eyes. We discovered that the double vision was worse when I looked to the left while I faced straight ahead.
The doctor told me to go to the emergency room and get checked out, because though he knew what my eyes were doing, but he didn’t know why. In the weeks that followed I saw one doctor after the other.
Double vision can sometimes be caused by medications, migraines, failure of the muscles to the eyes and several eye diseases. Treatment can include strengthening the eye muscles through exercise, medications and surgery. Since I suffered from many of the causes for double vision, it became difficult to treat me.
It was something I had to learn to live with, but it didn’t come without changes in my life:
I could no longer drive.
Reading became difficult.
Even when watching TV I found it difficult to make out letters.
I had to retrain myself to perform activities of daily living.
Double vision can cause you to see two sets of everything. With time, I learned that I would have good days and bad days; and found my own way of moving through my world, and how to distinguish which of the two things I was looking at was real and which one was the double.
Medicalnewstoday.com in their article, “Why am I Seeing Double?”, tells us that double vision causes a person to see double images where there should be one, and that the double can be side by side, on top of each other, or both. The article also provides in depth causes and treatments such as using glasses with prisms in the lenses, wearing an eye patch, and surgery on the eye muscles.
Coping with double vision can be difficult, but armed with knowledge about the condition, treatment for it, and the right support system of people who understand what you’re going through can go a long way in helping you live life to the fullest.
Know also that God acts on your behalf. He can bring you through the turmoil of treatments, and can help you accept the way your life will be after all the treatments have been tried. You may feel like you can’t function in your world, but God sees your pain and will comfort you in ways that you can’t even imagine.
Exodus 33:14 – The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.
In many ways, emotional pain follows the path of chronic pain.
There are times when the pain you experience is just a light breeze. You know it’s there, but you’re able to function and be at peace.
This would include:
All of these could be resolved by Tylenol or Ibuprofen and a brief rest.
Then there are times when pain starts to speak into your ear and tell you, “It’s getting worse now.” It is at this point that you need to forcibly put your mind onto something else that will completely occupy your mind.
This would include:
All of these may not resolve with simply over-the-counter medications, and you need to see your physician especially if you think you’ve broken a bone.
But then there are times when pain has the audacity to walk right up to you and say, “You can’t do this anymore! Not again! I’m winning this war,” and it goes and grabs anxiety by the hand and marches into your every thought and action.
This would include:
All of these painful conditions need to be followed by a physician who is trained in treating them. It may include long-term medical care, because many chronic conditions don’t go away.
Whatever the depth and strength of the pain someone with a health condition experiences, it is indeed accompanied by emotional pain. The anxiety caused by meeting new physicians to join your team of providers alone can send you in a tail spin. There also can be an element of depression experienced when one learns they may never be the same again.
Healthtalk.org, their article, “Coping With the Emotional Impact of Chronic Pain,” provides video clip interviews with people who suffer from chronic pain and how they cope with it. One of the people interviewed had a difficult time at first with the idea of seeing a psychologist and wondered how he could help the patient through the rough times. But once the patient went, he discovered that it did help.
Once the pain or illness has taken such a toll on your life, you must realize that you can’t do this alone. And it’s there, at that point of surrender, that a psychologist can help and God can help you if you let him. And it’s there, at that point of surrender, that God picks you up, cradles you in his arms and says, “Pain and anxiety may think they’re winning the battle, but I will win the war for you. So rest. I’m here.”
Ezekiel 10:4 - Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.
When it comes to football, it’s important to not just defend your team’s position, but being on the offense.
“Hit them hard!”
“Let them know who’s in charge!”
“Give it your last bit of effort!”
Did you know that fighting a chronic health condition in many ways is like football? If you want to get a handle on your treatments, move into remission and stay there, then never give up on believing you can beat the odds. You need to:
“Hit them hard!”
“Let them know who’s in charge!”
“Give it your last bit of effort!”
You won’t win if you don’t go on the offense. What does it mean to be on the offense when fighting a chronic health condition?
Let’s take a look at some other ways to stay on the offensive. Aetna.com, in their article, “5 Steps to Living Well With a Chronic Illness,” has some suggestions. One of them is to use the buddy system. Find a trusted family member or friend who’s willing to be your co-advocate to come to appointments, and be another set of eyes and ears. Another suggestion is to manage your stress by listening to uplifting music, trying guided meditations and experimenting with aromatherapy oils.
With the suggestions I listed, and those suggested in the article above, you will be armed to stay on the offensive while living with a chronic health condition. Also realize that God will cause you to rise up, take your condition in your hands and fight. God will support you, so take courage and move forward one step at a time.
Jeremiah 30:6 - Ask and see: Can a man bear children? Then why do I see every strong man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor, every face turned deathly pale?
You clutch your stomach. The pain is back.
Everyone experiences a stomach ache from time-to-time, but there’s a big difference between a stomach ache and stomach pain.
A stomach ache can make can make you:
Stomach pain can make you:
When in doubt as to whether you have a simple stomach ache or if it’s real pain, it’s important to see your doctor. Only he can truly diagnose your problem and figure out if what you’re feeling is something to be concerned about.
Some of the things a doctor may do are:
Here are some other reason for your stomach issue and whether it’s serious listed on everydayhealth.com in their article, “9 Common Digestive Conditions From Top to Bottom,” such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or gallstones, and how to treat them.
Take a look at the Bible verse above; there are times when even a man can clutch his stomach like a woman in labor. Understanding the difference between a stomach ache and stomach pain is important to know so that a decision can be made if it’s something that should be checked out by a healthcare professional. If your pain becomes so intense that you can’t function, know that God can give you the wisdom you need and can point you in the right direction to get the attention to help heal your problem.
Psalm 73:26 - My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Here we are at another Valentine’s Day. Hearts swell with love as one Valentine gives a gift to the other. The gift is meant to express their love by something tangible. But a gift alone won’t prove your love; it must also be expressed in action. All of this leads to two hearts beating together in the rhythm of their love.
When a couple first meets their heartbeats can flutter as they get to know each other. It’s like as if they’re in highschool when just seeing each other from across the classroom is enough to pick up the beat of their hearts.
When a couple begins to date, they get to know each other and their hearts begin to approach a link together just as a chair links when the clasp is closed.
And so it goes, the couple falls in love, and they can feel their hearts beating as one. They long for each other when they are away, and enjoy each other when they are together.
But then it happens. They argue, no longer seem to have the same interests and find themselves falling out of love. Their hearts no longer beat to the same rhythm they used to.
Arrithmias. They can happen when two people fall out of love. And their heart begins to beat separately instead of together. And so it can be in the life of the body.
An arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, changes the rhythm of the heart. It means that it can beat too quickly, slowly or in an irregular pattern. I should know, because I have three different arrhythmias.
I have atrial flutter, where a circuit of electrical signals forms in one of the upper portions of my heart called the atria. I also have atrial fibrillation, where there are many circuits of electrical signals that form inside the atria of my heart. These circuits and irregular electrical signals are what cause the arrhythmias. The other rhythm problem that I have is skipped or extra beats of my heart which makes an uneven pattern.
Medicalnewstoday.com, in their article, “Arrhythmia: Causes, Symptoms, Types and Treatment,” provide us with some answers about arrhythmias. They break down the types of arrhythmias into slow heartbeat (bradycardia), fast heartbeat (tachycardia), irregular heartbeat (flutter or fibrillation), and early heartbeat (premature contraction). It also provides causes such as an overactive thyroid gland, symptoms such as fluttering in the chest, and treatments such as medications or ablation therapy.
I had an ablation procedure to help alieveate atrial flutter. Using two catheters the doctor went through blood vessels in my groin up to my heart. Once in the heart, the doctor burned the area where the source of the flutter was coming from.
All of this information may seem a bit overwhelming at first. But with the information on any procedure to be performed and a doctor you can trust, many times the arrhythmia can be eliminated or at least provide relief from the symptoms for you.
Notice the Bible verse above. In it you can see that even if our heart fails to do its job correctly, God is the strength of our heart and will watch over us forever.
Deuteronomy 29:5 - Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.”
You’ve been on your feet, at work, all day. You can hardly wait until you get home, take off your shoes and sit down. Your feet just ache.
It’s common for our feet to hurt after a long day. They may throb some, but it’s not bad enough to dig deeper into what to do.
You know the drill:
These things are mostly common sense and you probably already make sure your shoes are right.
But what if your feet hurt whether you’re on your feet or not? Is there a time when you should be worried when they throb, burn, are hard to bend or you’re unable to stand without being in pain? In these cases, it would be wise to make an appointment with your physician to check your feet.
There are many reasons for your doctor to come into the picture:
Verywellhealth.com, in their article, “Common Causes of Foot Pain,” details other reasons for foot pain such as tarsal tunnel syndrome which is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, but affects the main nerve that goes to your foot. Turf toe is also detailed where you can develop a sprain at the base of the big toe causing toe cramping and pain.
Once you understand the difference between minor foot pain and those of a more serious nature, you can know whether it’s time to call your physician. He can suggest a treatment plan and how you can minimize your pain.
Take a look at the Bible verse above and you’ll see that God cares about your health, even that of your feet. The Israelites had traveled through the wilderness for forty years. In that time, neither their clothes nor sandals wore out. If God cared about the Israelite’s feet, then he will take care of your feet as well.
Psalm 102:13 – You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her, the appointed time has come.
The sun’ll come out tomorrow so ya gotta hang on ‘til tomorrow come what may. Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya tomorrow! You’re always a day a way!
And so the song says. When you battle a chronic health condition, sometimes we don’t feel like tomorrow is something to cheer for. We just feel like there’s no sense waiting for a better day that will never arrive.
Tomorrow you may be feeling better.
But tomorrow you may be feeling worse.
Tomorrow you may be able to finally get those chores done.
But tomorrow your body may be bombarded with spasms and you can’t do anything.
Tomorrow you may be able to visit with a group of friends and have fun.
But tomorrow you may have to spend the day alone longing for company.
Tomorrow other people will understand you’re in pain, even if you don’t look like it.
But tomorrow people may make fun of you and say you’re just faking it.
Tomorrow they may finally find a cure.
But tomorrow they may have no idea on how to cure you.
So, let’s all put on our bright and shiny faces and sing the song, “Tomorrow,” with gusto. What do you think? Can we find a reason to believe tomorrow will be a better day? And what about that cure? How can I get to a place where I’m able to move forward in life even without a cure? Even if they never find a cure?
While thinking about this I pulled up an article on kevinmd.com, titled, “Living with an Illness for Which There is no Cure.” One of the most amazing statements was made in the article: everyone knows we’re going to die, someday, but we still participate in life. We don’t think about dying every day. Every moment. And that’s how it is for someone who has an incurable disease or someone who is healthy.
I think it’s about living life to the fullest in the way that your mind and body shape it. You may not be able to do much because of chronic pain or you illness. Or you may have to stay where you live instead of traveling, because you need to be able to receive treatments that might save your life.
So instead of focusing on a cure that may never come, we can begin to believe that we no longer have to feel that being “cured” is the only way to lead a joyful fulfilled life. I know, it’s not going to be easy to do that, but God will arise and show you compassion. He will show you that the appointed time has come for you to resume living life the best way you can. And that, my friend, will show you that you don’t have to just stand on the sidelines waiting for a better day to come. You can make today that better day. And yes, the sun will come up tomorrow.
Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Have you ever watched a dance recital? These graceful dancers hardly ever make a mistake. Their training and strength are evident to all. It takes a lot of practice to be able to dance in public where the entire world can see you.
I, too, step onto the stage except it’s not a dance recital, but the stage of pain. I may move around the stage in grace, but I often miss that last jump and fall flat on my face.
I scold myself for trying such a bold move. I shouldn’t try to dance while my body screams at me. But what else am I to do?
Stay in bed?
Stay away from the happy times waiting for me to enjoy?
But when you live with chronic pain, the happy times are far and in between.
So let’s say you decide to plan a special outing once every six months.
But of course I’m not talking about a real dance floor, though it would be fun to dance, I’m talking about the stage of life.
Dancers spend years practicing and learning how to make their bodies move gracefully on the stage. They also stay conscious of each move and the movements of the other dancers.
This is what those with chronic pain have to do as well.
Practice in your mind how you will spend your day out. Think about the ways you will need to move your body, and where the chairs are located so that you can sit down when you need to. (Knowing where the bathrooms are is also important.)
Life is indeed a stage. What are you going to do to get yourself out on the dance floor and enjoy life? I’ve already given you a few ideas, but what else can you do to find some happiness in the midst of your painful circumstances?
Happify.com posts in their article, “9 Tips for Finding Happiness When You’re Dealing With Chronic Pain,” suggests positive personality traits like optimism can impact the body’s perception of pain, and we’re not programmed to feel good while we’re feeling physical pain, and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to. We don’t have to let it ruin our day.
So, back to stepping out onto the stage of pain. Remember, that even if you fall, know that God will never judge you and he will give you the credit for trying. Walking our lives with grace is possible, mistake or no mistake. It just means remembering to not try doing it alone. God will goes with you when you step out onto the stage, and he will never leave you nor forsake you.
2 Corinthians 9:12 - This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
You haven’t worked in years. You know that it’s because of your disability, but you still miss interactions with coworkers. Besides, no one would hire you because you are sick most of the time, right? But how about taking a look at things from a new angle?
There are many opportunities in communities across the country waiting for people to give up a few hours a week to contribute. You could do that. And you’d get that interaction you miss.
Here are some ideas:
Take a look at some other volunteer opportunities on moneycrashers.com in their article, “12 Ways to Volunteer Your Time and Give Back to the Community,” such as volunteering at a local school, organizing a yard sale for charity and becoming a docent at a local museum or theater.
And as you volunteer, God will give you the strength you need to do so a few hours a week. He knows that just getting out of the house and being around people can help you feel better. Also, as you serve others through volunteering, it’s also a way to express your thanks to God for all he’s done for you.
Proverbs 15:30 - A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.
You have a dilemma. You’re coming up on the date of an important surgery. You’re following all of your doctor’s instructions leading up to it. But there is something else to consider – Would it be a risk for me to be around other people because it’s the flu season? Should I stay at home as much as possible?
Many people during the flu season use common sense and stay home when they have the flu. But others, carrying their coughs and all, go shopping, visit with family or go to church even if they’re still sick.
But do they? I know that some of you will be angry with me, because if they stay home they don’t get paid and that means no money for bills. This is true, but what if there is someone in the desk next to you that has a lower immune system and is at risk of getting sick, also?
Back to our question concerning surgery, so here you are trying to stay well for your surgery, because many times a surgery has to be canceled because you are ill. You’re at work and keep hearing the man on the other side of the cubical repeatedly coughing and blowing him nose. You edge your chair as far away from him as you can, but you know his germs can still find you.
And as far as shopping or going to church, should you venture out and risk exposure in these situations as well? Probably not.
But here’s the rub – Why should you have to be the one who misses work, even before your surgery date? Why should you be “punished” when someone else brings germs with them?
Realize you’re not being “punished.” You just have to be aware of your surroundings when you go out.
For suggestions on how to protect yourself from becoming sick before you have surgery take a look at what doctors and nurses do in the article, “12 Ways Doctors and Nurses Keep From Getting Sick.” Their suggestions include some unusual ones including carrying your own pen with you so that you know no one else has touched it, and hold your breath and don’t inhale deeply if you’re near someone who is sneezing and coughing.
In addition to the suggestions in the article above, take a look at what the Bible verse above says. As hard as it may be when facing a surgery, focus on the positive aspects such as getting the chance to have a surgery that may improve your health. This is indeed good news and can help bring joy to your heart and a smile to your face. It can also help keep you healthy.
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.