Just One Word
On May 5, 2000, I fell down a flight of stairs and broke my neck. I wrote about that in my last post. Here is the rest of the story.
I woke with a start. My body was screaming with pain from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I moaned, and reached for the two Oxycontin tablets I had laid on my nightstand the night before so I wouldn’t have to waste time opening the bottle and digging them out. Shaking, I gulped them down with a glass of water and gingerly lay back down, holding myself as I rocked and waited for the pain to subside.
This had been my morning routine for months. I was seeing my doctor every few days and he was worried. He was sure that my body had produced pain pathways throughout my body in response to the chronic pain. But I noticed something strange and began to doubt that this was true.
One day, about four hours after taking the narcotic pain pills, I ventured out to a favorite store. It was rare I felt well enough to go out. As I walked about, trying to enjoy myself, nausea and apprehension hit me in quick succession. I felt helpless and wanted to burst into tears. I was tempted to sit down on the floor and bawl like a baby, but quickly left the store and drove home. I took another pill and soon felt much better. Was I addicted?
I put off telling the doctor my fears for a few months. I was pretty sure that going through withdrawal from an opiate was not going to be fun. Not going to be fun? I will say with all honesty that someone could offer me $1,000,000 to purposely go through this torture again. I would turn that million dollars down in a heartbeat. I don’t think I would survive opiate withdrawal again, and I wouldn’t want to test it out.
I lay on my living room floor day after day, rocking back and forth. The muscles in my legs jerked every few seconds. The ice water running through my veins made me want to take a hot bath several times a day. I felt panicky and desperate. One day, lying in the bathtub attempting to warm up I cried out to God to take my life.
“Please Lord, just kill me off somehow, but don’t do it until after the holidays so my children will not have sad Christmases.” Needless to say, He didn’t take me up on my offer.
Within about six weeks I was doing better except for one thing. Now I was in excruciating pain. I couldn’t lift my head up without feeling like my back was broken. My arms ached and went numb. I was off opiates but I still hoped God would take me out somehow. I wanted a reprieve from this life-sentence of unrelenting pain.
I had tried many things early on after I broke my neck. I had gone to a chiropractor, and after he took my neck in his hands and quickly twisted my head back and forth, he put me into even more pain. I never went back. I had tried acupuncture, steroid injections, massage therapy, ice, heat…nothing had helped.
One day as I was wandering around the house, the word “chiropractor” popped into my mind. “I’ll never do that again,” I thought. The next day, the word popped into my mind again. It almost seemed like a whisper. I thought of my neck getting cracked and shoved the thought aside.
Over the next two weeks, the word, “chiropractor” flowed in and out of my mind at odd times during the day, sometimes more than once. I continued to ignore these thoughts, as it was the last thing I thought I would do. I hadn’t even been to my massage therapist in months as the massages hadn’t really helped me long term either.
One day, sitting at the dark antique secretary in my living room, I poured my desperation out to God. I mean I literally sobbed and begged Him to help me. I told him I needed Him to tell me what to do about the pain because I no longer wanted to live. I didn’t expect an answer, but the tears had been a long time coming.
Then, I got up and walked over to my living room window and looked out.
“Chiropractor!” This one word returned to my thoughts again, seemingly louder than ever.
“I wonder if the Lord is trying to tell me to go to a chiropractor?!” I thought. It didn’t make sense to me. I had gone to one, and he had put me in worse pain. I didn’t trust chiropractors. Huh.
Two hours later my phone rang.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Hi! This is Betsey. Remember me? I was your massage therapist? Well, you have been on my mind so much lately, and I wanted to tell you that I think you should go to a chiropractor I know.” Okay Lord, you’ve got my undivided attention now.
She gave me his name and I thanked her profusely. I called his office as soon as I hung up the phone. I was able to get in to see him the following day. I was scared to go but even more scared not to.
My fear was groundless. Bryan was a wonderful chiropractor. He was gentle and explained what he was doing and why. He understood my fears and helped me through them. Within four visits, I was out of 85% of the pain!
My level of joy went up 1000%. I was doing cartwheels in my front yard. I was stopping strangers on the street and telling them what happened to me. I felt my heart beat faster for weeks just from the sheer relief of it all. Life became precious to me again and my heart filled with gratitude for a God who would not give up.
I cannot say that I was miraculously totally healed of all pain. I have to be careful about what I do. But I have never experienced anywhere near the level of pain I had ever again. Since then, when I begin to hurt, I ask, “what should I do now, Lord?” And I try to listen to that still, small voice. Because sometimes the answer is exactly what I need to hear.