I’m still around, just haven’t been in a writing mode I guess. It’s funny, because once you actually announce change, you get hit from all angles with just…tests. And tested I have been. This week has been hard from many angles, but nothing I have experienced can come close to the biggest part of this week.
My dear friend had a very serious medical procedure for a horrific disease called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. It’s an incurable, excruciatingly painful disease.
It’s in her shoulder and arm (and her dominant one at that), and to add to it, she also has a torn rotator cuff, which cannot be repaired because of the damage from the RSD. And she’s working through all of this, too (and I don’t mean mentally, though that too, I mean she goes to work everyday). And I know she must get comments that are well-meaning but frustrating. It’s not like any other chronic pain disease; not by a long-shot. On the McGill Pain Index, pain is scaled. A bone fracture is a 17, non-terminal cancer is a 26. Chronic back pain is a 30. Unmedicated childbirth is a 37. The pain from RSD, which is constant and without end in sight, is a 42. The wind from a rolled-down window causes excruciating pain; so does her own clothes.
I’ve watched her and been in awe. Her faith is incredible; it’s amazing to watch and indescribably beautiful. At only 29 years old, she’s been through more than anyone I know. She’s experienced RSD before, a few years ago, in her leg, and had to learn how to walk again. This time it’s different, though. It’s her dominant arm, and she has a small child who prays that the surgery works so Mommy can hold her again.
There are times she has been sad – that she can’t make dinner for her daughter, or wash her own hair; times of frustration, when nurses say inconsiderate things, and times where she is tired of battling this every minute of every day. But never once, not a single time, I have ever seen her angry at God.
Still, she has faith.
Through pain we cannot begin to fathom, she has faith. She knows that God will use this for something. She doesn’t know what, but I’ve never heard her voice the question the rest of us think…”what is the ‘so that’ here?”
This surgery was painful, has an extremely lengthy and difficult recovery (in fact, the stimulator they implanted in her spine won’t even be turned ON for another two weeks, so for now there is no RSD relief and now there are two incisions and spinal work that cause pain), and has no guarantees that it will work. And if it does work, it doesn’t make it all better; it merely improves her quality of life. It was, however, the last resort. She doesn’t focus on that, though. Wednesday, I stayed overnight with her in her hospital room post-op and I read her the bible verses that friends and coworkers had painstakingly prepared. And as my voice cracked, trying desperately to force out a verse from 1 Peter, we cried together when I kissed her forehead and said “This is what we prayed for. He is faithful. Your surgery was a success. He answered our prayers. He is faithful.” And in the midst of excruciating pain, nurses that had her send home medication that the pharmacy ended up not having, doctor’s orders that had neglected to be put into the system, and poor post-operative care, she continued to praise God.
Today, I brought her Seasons 2-6 of 24 (Jack Bauer makes everything better, amiright?) and laid in bed with her and chatted. Instead of talking about her pain, she asked me how I was.
How I am? Hardly relevant. But she wanted to know, because that’s who she is.
Wonderful. Passionate. Christ-like. A servant. An example to the rest of us to look up instead of down, and out instead of in.
She says she’s blessed to have us, and that’s so backwards. It is us who are blessed, so blessed, to have someone in our lives that radiates faith and love.
I love you, Rachel, and I know, like you do, that He has a plan for you in this.