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Thursday, March 12, 2015

When Healing Includes Pain

Maybe this is Part 2 of my previous post.  Because you know my mind keeps whirring after I've said my bit.

So on Sunday evening I was sitting in an Easy Chair that rocks.  And Hannah has this need to climb all over me and mash her face up against mine while she strokes my face.  Which I try to allow, since someday, I'm convinced, she'll quit it.  She climbed up on my lap and as I leaned back I realized we were going to go over - which is usually no big deal - it has happened once or twice.  The problem was that my arm reached out to break the fall and said arm got twisted backwards and pinned under the chair back with her still on top of me.  And I couldn't move.  So I screamed - for help, yes - but mostly out of the sheer pain and agony I desperately wanted to stop.  At that moment, nothing meant anything to me but the hope that someone would pull me out of my predicament.

Enter the dashingly handsome knight in shining armour - Sam.  He was actually sitting across the room and stood above me not knowing where to pull or help or how to move.  I didn't know either!  I kept trying to nudge myself out of the twisted arm position but I was pinning myself down and any movement meant further strain on what I was sure was a mutilated arm.  I quickly realized I would need to be pulled immediately upright so as to un-pin my arm.  And Sam did this for me!  Hooray Sam!!

I was gasping for breath and absolutely freaking out with pain.  I just sat there moaning and couldn't believe that one minute of my life could hold such pain - and with only one limb forced beyond it's limit.  The amazing thing is that nothing seemed to be broken - not even a torn tendon or ligament (I think, it's just a guess).  But within a few seconds the pain subsided and my arm went completely numb.  It had been twisted and pinned down opposite of where it is meant to go.  And the pain came to a halt pretty quickly, only to be replaced by total numbness.  I was pleasantly surprised - and quite pleased with the outcome.

The only problem with numbness (while I admit it is a great blessing), is that it messes with you in ways you forget - like the times you realize you actually need a left arm to, say, bring your cup to your mouth, or to pull down a seatbelt from behind or to reach up to wash your hair in the shower.  The numbness was a welcomed relief.  But it incapacitated my arm to some degree.  Though I have no great medical knowledge I had to surmise it was some kind of mild nerve damage, and I just figured it should resolve itself in time.  (And here I am typing this, so obviously it was a very minor, short-lived thing).

For the last three days I haven't done any laundry.  Try doing that with a household our size and it can be depressing to look at the pileup.  I couldn't cut things in the kitchen so it was pretty simple meals too.  I found my arm to be like dead-weight and somewhat useless at times - and frustrating.  Once in a while it would give me a shock of pain, only to return to numbness.  Until this evening.

Suddenly I felt a horrible ache over my arm and it throbbed and seemed way worse than before.  I got a bit nauseous and lounged on the couch for a while.  The pain seemed to spread, and I reached out my arm and it moved almost with complete range of motion.  I realized in that instant that my arm was figuring out it's proper nerve connections or something and decided to get back to being useful in my employ.

And like puzzles magically falling into place, it presented a picture to me of what healing of the soul might be like.  Injury occurs.  Pain is inevitable.  But sometimes pain exceeds what the soul can bear and paralysis sets in.  Complete numbing of emotion and deadness of heart seems to overtake what was once a healthy, engaged, vibrant human being.  This may seem like some kind of disorder, clinically, but I wonder if it isn't also a blessing - a mechanism designed by our Maker to calm the raging sea when we have no control over the things that grieve us so deeply.

But the numbness may or may not last forever.  And it is a bit of a band-aid over the pain that resulted from some kind of injury.  And when the healing begins, sometimes the pain emerges again.  It can be frightening - when the pain washed over my arm I wanted out.  I'd rather go back to numb, I thought.  But that would mean having a limp arm that wouldn't serve it's purpose.

My guess is that in healing we re-visit pain and it is part of the pathway to wholeness.  Because if I am numb, I disconnect from the stimulus of whatever is around me.  I fail to own the pain that is a part of my story.  I think it is okay to stay there for a while.  But certainly the hope of healing, even if it brings with it a painful process, is worth exploring.

And explore I shall.  With my left arm to boot.


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