Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Deal with it.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with a condition that nearly incapacitated me. It's funny that I rarely give it a thought these days, as migraines would come and go, and I'd chalk it up to little more than "life as an active mother". I long forgot the days of shutting the blinds to keep out all rays from my light-sensitive eyes. Yes, I, One-who-loves-the-sun (my official Cherokee name) could stand no light, and barely any movement. I lived in a haze. I remember little of it. My memory is foggy probably because my mind was foggy then. When I began to slur my speech a bit and just not quite be able to lift my head all the way, we knew it was serious.

Countless doctors had come and gone. Ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI's, psychological and neurological tests combined had come back in all their futility. Well, in my case, at least. At one point, I remember hoping that I had a tumor or something. At least then people wouldn't think I was crazy anymore. And yes, some doctors just called me crazy.

But I got a miracle. It wasn't the first time. And now that I think about it, I wonder if the same condition which can start at the base of the spine and cause sporadic paralysis and/or numbness of the limbs is the same condition I have today.

My first big miracle came when I was 18 years old. My future was bright and I was energetic. I loved to read, study and travel. I wanted to see anything - everything. At that time, "everything" became limited to Northwest Indiana and occasionally the Chicago area. But it was temporary, I knew, and I began to sketch my plans. But those came to a halt during my second semester away at college. I got some kind of shaking cramp in my leg, and them numbness. It would come and go, but it was always followed or accompanied by a headache. Of epic proportions. It would make me dizzy and I could almost feel it coming on. After some rest, and sometimes days of barely more than sleeping and -if I was lucky- back rubs, I'd be on my way and forget about the episode until another one struck. Funny, isn't it? How we forget.

That only went on for a few months and I was headed home for the summer break. Just a week or so after arriving, I attended church with my parents for a revival or preaching conference of some sort. During one of the services, I started to have a little tremble in my right leg. I knew what it was, so I excused myself and told my mom I'd be in another room where I knew there were pews on which I could rest. The preacher happened to be distracted by my leaving and asked if there was anything wrong with the girl who left during the service, and that he wanted to pray for me. So, my dad came and got me and along with the evangelist, my pastor, and any other pastor who came to the meeting and wanted to pray with me, all gathered around me, laid their hands on my head and shoulders and began to pray. I remember crying. I remember thinking "Lord, I really would like this to go away!" But not having a whole lot of faith.

That was short-lived. I could hardly believe the rapidity of that answered prayer. I had no further episodes. I never had my legs go numb, or a trembling that would turn into a severe migraine. I had bills to pay (or my parents did at that time!) for scans and tests which said I had "nothing", to remind me of my miracle.

That was many years ago, of course. But my next miracle regarding my health came just three years ago. My flights were booked, and I was hours away from getting on a plane for the American doctors to hopefully tell me what the European ones couldn't. After church on Sunday, a friend approached me and said "Why don't you go see my chiropractor/massage therapist? It couldn't hurt and maybe it'll relax you before your flight". I agreed.

That was Sunday evening.
Monday morning, I walked into my place of miracles. It was a small apartment with a living room set aside for this sweet Christian lady to take her clients amidst the bustle of her busy day and 6 children.
It didn't look miraculous. But it was.
She sent her children off to school and secured the others in their activities and closed the doors leading into the small room.
It didn't seem like it held a mighty wonder. But it did.

She ran her hand down my spine, then up my neck and instructed me to lie down on the table, face up. She proceeded to pop my back and neck in ways that I can not even describe. She rubbed my neck. I could feel my temples pulsing and told her that I wasn't sure I was okay.
And then she said it.

"Good thing you didn't get on the plane. That pressure could have killed you. You should stay right here and receive the treatment I recommend." My miracle. Or was it a miracle when our friend suggested I see the chiropractor? Either way, God spared me once again.

I was told that I have a condition called spondylosis. Everyone suffers from a type of this. It's just degeneration of the vertebrae. It comes with age.
Unless you have this degenerative condition about which little is known of the "whys" and more is known about the treatment. After all, 18, when I first had symptoms, is not what we call decrepit. Anyway, in more recent years, the cervical (neck) spondylosis had caused my muscles to constrict in such a way that I was no longer getting much oxygen to my brain. That explained a lot! And as soon as it was unblocked by realignment and massage I could barely even remember feeling ill.

Until a few days ago. I had been having migraines that were immune to pain relievers. And there was this one pulsing pain that drove me to tears. So, I googled it. What would cause a pain right there?
Um, neck and shoulder tension.
Oh. That's right.
Could just be my whole degenerative bone thing.
Hm, didn't think of that.

So, I asked my kids to help massage my neck a bit and explained to them how I was feeling and I mentioned that I didn't even THINK about my spondylosis since I haven't had to deal with it much in at least two years.
To which my daughter so lovingly replied, "Mom, you have a condition. Deal with it."
Teenagers are great, aren't they? Black and white. Matter-of-fact.
And all she was saying, as she did -to her credit- later articulate, was that I need to keep it in mind, and take care of myself before things like numbness in my arms happen again.

And I remembered. Oh, how I often forget.
I have a condition.
I need to deal with it.
I need to see that I am undone without my loving Father.
I am incapacitated if I am going through the day to day routine in my own strength, because I can do ALL THINGS in his!
I need to deal with the fact that I am in a world who needs a Savior.
I need to wake up in the morning and remember my condition.
I am the Father's beloved child, and I have a message of love to bring.
I am in Christ.
He is in me.
That's the condition I am in, and oh how often I forget!
I have him! I can deal with that.

Oh, and as far as my medical condition... I'm dealing with that too. Taking my daughter's advice and following the recommended treatment, and hopefully not forgetting once I feel well... so that the next time it flares, it won't be so advanced.
I'm dealing with it.
Not forgetting, dealing. Today, at least...


  1. Oh Shelly! Did you go see the chiropractor again? Does that always help heal it right away? Praying for you, my friend!

  2. are you feeling now? I will pray for you! :)

  3. I have a series of painful sessions that I have to do. :P One down, about six or seven to go! (depending on how I react) Thanks for asking, and for the prayers, ladies! :)

  4. Shelly, this was a wonderful post. And,although I am sorry you have this "thorn" to live with, I am glad you shared your thoughts. Going to be praying for you.

  5. Thanks so much for the prayers!!

  6. Shelly,
    You are such a wonderful writer. I feel like a 6th grader reading a master's thesis when I read your posts. You bring God so near and dear. Its like you take the poetry of the Hebrew out of the text and retranslate it into English poetry. ;-) Maybe that doesn't make sense, but it did to me. ;-)
    Love and big hugs,

  7. Heather, you are so sweet, you made my day! Love and hugs to you too, lovely friend!

  8. I have had migraines for about 25 years that continually get worse. Just tried the chiro thing but didin't really help. Glad it is helping you. Found your blog while just playing around and have enjoyed reading your posts.

  9. Shanda, I'm honored you took the time to read some of my blog! I just wanted to say that it's not chiropractic manipulation alone that has worked for me. I see a shiatsu specialist. It can be pricey, but it's the only thing that worked for me. It's a combination of deep tissue massage and alignment. It's not for the faint of heart. I literally cry during many of the sessions, but feel incredible a day or so later (the pain does stay around for the first day or so). Anyway, if you haven't tried it, I thought it would be worth recommending! God bless and may he give you remedy that works for you!