I looked at my legs and my feet from the hospital bed – I knew they were mine because those were the shoes and jeans I was wearing when I left the house. I tried to move my feet but nothing happened. I tried to move my legs but I couldn’t even feel them. I started to feel a little lightheaded so I closed my eyes. I could hear the sounds of medical equipment all around me. The inflating of the blood pressure cuffs, the beeping of the heart rate monitors, and the sound of the IV infusion pumps as I slipped in and out of consciousness. I opened my eyes again and looked at my IV pump. I tried to guess how much longer I had before the bag would be completely empty. I started to feel lightheaded again so I closed my eyes. I awoke again and thought I should text my wife and let her know what is happening. I reached for my bag to get my phone. It wasn’t easy. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. My arms felt heavy, my left hand limited by the IV needle and my right by the wires from the monitor. I unzipped my bag slowly so as not to rip out the IV or detach the monitor and took out my phone and started to text my wife, “so…”
The predictive text I have cursed so many times was now my best friend.
The screen came in and out of focus and my fingers in and out of my control. I concentrated as best I could but in my current state it was all I could do to type a few letters then try to read the suggested word and tap on the appropriate one. I am not sure if I closed my eyes again or stared into space, all I know is it seemed to take forever to complete my text. I pushed send as tears slowly ran down my face, “So this is what normal people feel like – other than I am high as a kite I feel no pain for the first time in my life.” My wife texted back…
“Praise God – As I cry”
So how did I end up lying in a hospital bed being infused with Ketamine and Lidocaine? For those of you who have read my blog over the years you know that two times every six months I have a surgical procedure called Radio Frequency Oblation (RF) done to my neck (left side first then right side two to four weeks later). See Medical Metaphor Medical Metaphor part 2 It Isn’t Always What It Appears To Be And So The Metaphor Ends. I have skimmed the information on the posters in the waiting room before my surgery for a few years. I figured this is for people with bad pain, not for me. My wife will back me up on this, I have trouble believing that my constant pain is anything but normal. As I sat in the waiting room in September I read the posters again but this time my attitude had changed. A week or two before I said to my wife I have to stop covering up my pain. I have been lying to you, to others and to myself about how bad it really is. In that waiting room I said this simple prayer, “God if this is for me have the doctor offer it to me without me asking.”
“I think you would benefit from infusions…”
The doctor brought it up, not me as I lay in the recovery room after my RF surgery. Nine days later there I was staring at my feet and trying to text. Just under two hours after I arrived my wife was wheeling me to the car for the ride home. As she drove I reached over and held her hand and tears started to roll down my face again. I moved my fingers across her hand feeling each finger amazed at the difference in temperature and texture from tip to knuckle and parts in between. Then I started touching the interior of the car then my own hand and then her hand again. My no longer overloaded nervous system could now send specific signals. I felt no pain only what most people take for granted; I felt what things really feel like.
I don’t know how many times I held my wife’s hand and had to fight back tears, how many times we cuddled up in bed and I didn’t push her away in pain but rather enjoyed every second, every new sensation but then…
…it was all gone!
I knew it would happen but it still came as a shock. One morning my wife put her hand on my shoulder and I jumped. Once again it hurt. Over the next week I slowly got worse and now I am almost back to where I started. I am told with more treatments the relief will last longer, possibly the full two months between the infusions. It has been an emotional rollercoaster ride but there is one thing I realized. Right now I may not be able to feel the different textures of my wife’s hands, but I can remember them, imagine them, almost feel them as I hold her hand and as my mind recreates what I experienced not long ago I can look forward to the next treatment, the next time I will feel this way again.
I need to do the same with my faith.
Right now I may not be able to feel the feelings I once felt for God, but I can remember them, imagine them, almost feel them as I meditate on Him and as my mind recreates what I experienced I can look forward to the next time I experience His presence in a new and powerful way.
Feelings are not the mark of the depth of our relationship but rather the reminder of how blessed we really are.
…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians1:6 (NIV)