Thoughts on Pain

Hello there!

A Goal for 2017: I set a goal for myself to write once a month this year. I was doing great until June.  Many of you know I had a bit of a mishap, standing on a wobbly stool, that I wasn't remembering was wobbly, to put back a valance after my windows were cleaned.  Well the stool wobbled and I toppled off, and managed to break two bones in the process.  My left 'lateral side of my tibia plateau' in the knee, and the left 'radial head' in the elbow.

First a mini-ministry update! But before I launch into that, I wanted to give a bit of an update on a few ministry things!  I am doing this mini-update for Bernie, because he is doing extra things for me right now as well as continuing his normal ministry schedule, and doesn't have as much time to write an update! He hopes to soon be sending a printed newsletter, but for now I thought I could share with you about two things that I was able to go along with him on before my accident.

We had a special time when old friends came to tour Washington DC with Bernie and I. Since I was along I snapped a few pictures of Bernie with this family group, doing what he often does in DC, taking the them through the Library of Congress, into Thomas Jefferson's Library, and telling spiritual lessons in front of several statues in the Capital Visitor Center, among other things. This  precious family we first met over 10 years ago, and it was wonderful to see them again and hear their stories of faith and hope.  And this is only part of their clan, they also have several older children, several of them married, who weren't with them. I am working on my selfies so I included the first pic I tried to take of all of us, where only half the head of the father was showing. :/ I hope you enjoy a better picture of the family, with the capitol dome on the left. It was such a special time to see them again! The last time we saw them many of their children were small, now they are all teen or adults!

Another special ministry activity was being able to bring 4 of our granddaughters to help while Bernie spoke in a church.  They held the flags in one of his flag presentations. Hopefully we will be able to bring them along with us more in the future!

Prayer request for things coming up for Bernie:

1. Please pray for him as he speaks at the annual international conference for the Evangelical Church Alliance next week in Charlotte, NC! The conference theme is "In Everything By Prayer" and Bernie's message is entitled, "Pilgrims, Providence, and the Power of Prayer." I was going to go with him but am not able to now. :( Pray his talk goes well and encourages people and that he has a great time making connections and networking with the attendees!

2. There are several groups coming from Asia, as well as families from the US in the coming weeks, please pray the people are inspired by Bernie's stories of faith from America's History and that they also enjoy sharing their faith and see fruit using his gospel fliers.

3. Amazingly after many years of people telling Bernie he should video some of his stories that he tells in DC, in front of monuments, or statues, or in buildings, a skilled videographer who is coming mid-August has offered to do just that! Please pray the recordings turn out wonderfully and are a useful tool that encourages people and gives Bernie greater exposure and even more opportunities to share his knowledge and passion for sharing stories of faith from our Founders and also for sharing the gospel!

So back to my injuries. And thoughts on Pain.

For the first few days after I fell I iced and elevated and then used heat, and after about a week I finally was able to see a Dr. thinking it was probably a ligament. Wrong.

So here I am about six weeks later, finding out I actually have to wait six more weeks before fully bearing weight, or 12 weeks total, and also finding out there is a good chance of osteoporosis. The Dr. also told me at both visits that I don't match my knees. He said I looked younger than I am (thank-you, this old girl appreciated that) but my knees in the x-ray showed osteo arthritis in the joint and on the underside of the knee cap, and a bone spur (whatever that is?) and they looked like they belong to someone in their 70's. Ha! Good thing it doesn't really bother me at this point. The arthritis that is. The injury definitely bothers me though!

So, how about some thoughts on pain? :)

First let me say I am grateful! Grateful that the basement where I fell was a good place to recover, grateful that although our AC died about the same time, Josh and Kerin loaned us a floor unit and we all hung out in the only cool space in the house until it was replaced, so I had lots of company for about two weeks. Grateful that when I did get to the Dr. a week later and discovered it was actually two fractures, I did not need surgery to repair anything, as I found out later can be common with tibea plateau. No screws and plates yay! I am grateful my Dan is so helpful and responds right away, cheerfully, to every texted request.  And I am grateful for Bernie to run the errands I usually run to keep the household going and everyone fed.  And for running the washer and dryer. (I still get to sort and fold.) :) I am grateful early on Bernie brought down my sewing machine so I could try to finish the project I had started right before I fell. (slipcovers) I am grateful for visits from my family and grandchildren, and having one chance to work with them on the violin.  I am grateful I can sit up at the piano and play.  I am grateful for a recliner that reclines almost flat.  I am grateful for my laptop and smart phone. I am grateful for cards and emails and flowers! I am grateful that a family friend used my ticket to take my place and help supervise six grandchildren at the 'The Sound of Music' staged production at the Kennedy Center. And we are so incredibly grateful for and blessed by the financial support many of you sent that helped so much with all the extra expenses of the air conditioners as well as Dr. bills, x-rays, and PT visits. I am grateful we still celebrated Father's Day and the fourth of July with our children coming here to visit. My children, their spouses, and my grandchildren bring some sparkles to my life - so I had to include a few pictures Kerin took of some of the grands with sparklers when they were here but out of my sight and beyond where I could see them in our driveway.

The whys, fear and self doubting - After the first two weeks passed and the pain reduced a bit, what remained was a lot of self-doubt.  Why did I do something as unthinking as I did?  After a bad back injury the evening before Mothers Day in 2016, and a broken right elbow Christmas Eve 2016, how could I again have damaged or broken something already in the beginning of June 2017? What is wrong with me?  It has been an emotional challenge as much as anything else to struggle with these things in light of what it means for me for my future!  I am not even 60 yet.  When I was not allowed to bear much weight during the first six weeks it was such a challenge to figure out what I could safely do and balance rest with some activity. I like to help and serve my family and it is really a switch for me to be the one who is so dependent.  I don't like not being able to get up and walk around! And at my doctor appointment this past Wednesday I found out I have 6 more weeks until I can be fully weight bearing which has been a bit sobering.  I was thinking by 6 weeks I might be mobilizing, not by 12!  And osteoporosis?? If true, I will now be on a quest to see if I can reverse it - so I guess I can be grateful if I am learning of it before I break something worse!

Some spiritual parallels?? So I guess I have had a lot of time to think. And I don't have anything particularly profound but I did think how there are some comparisons to be made between how our physical body reacts to physical pain and injury, and how our emotions and soul respond to emotional soul pain.

Pain and injury and atrophy - It has been interesting to observe my leg, and see the muscles in my thigh and calf around the injury shrink and atrophy, almost scarily so. I learned this is just what your 'involuntary' nervous system and brain do around an injury, they are freaked out about how something is not right with that joint and its ability to move properly, so they just go passive. It takes work to get the brain and the muscles to again 'trust' that the joint can balance and perform properly.

And I thought hey that's kind of what we do when we go through an emotional trauma, we just kind of get numb and want to isolate for a while to assess the damage. It takes time to go through a process of learning to trust again in those types of situations as well.

Pain and injury and 'guarding' and self protection - Then there is me and my 'voluntary' nervous system - I definitely have been 'guarding' the use of that joint.  It hurts and doesn't feel right to move it, so I don't naturally do it. I am afraid that the pain means I am damaging it worse. But I have learned that, (as my Dr. told me as he pressed down on my upper tibia to try to stretch the hamstrings,) 'no pain no gain!' at least with this knee. I must force it to move, even if painfully at first, in order to stretch out all the tense and guarding ligaments and atrophied muscles.  If I don't I am doomed to have a much harder time ever regaining proper use of them.  People that don't work on stretching and strengthening soon enough after the injury potentially will never regain proper use!  So although initially the pain was my signal to ice and rest, now that some healing has taken place, I must push through pain to mobilize proper use of the joint again. At this point, this kind of pain is actually good, as it means progress.

Is this also like emotional trauma?  We back off, we guard ourselves from future hurt at first.  But then we must move forward, even move into the pain and take some risks emotionally to learn and grow through it to become a stronger individual.  If we don't, we risk staying emotionally immature or even can become dysfunctional. We must move forward to make emotional and spiritual progress, we can't just hide in our fear and pain forever.

So isn't it like our great Creator to design our physical bodies to work similarly to our emotions and souls?  I just found that very interesting.

I would appreciate continued prayer! So I would appreciate your prayers as the saga continues, - I am struggling with wondering if I got 'sentenced' to 6 more weeks because of something that is wrong, or something I did wrong. But that doesn't help me really, I must push through it, and accept it, and do the best I can with it! Pray the exercises work to regain my quad strength, stretch the ham strings so I can get the knee flat, and allow the knee cap to get in a better position. Pray my elbow feels more stable as I begin to use it with crutches.  And pray that, in 6 weeks, (or less?? - I don't know if that would be allowed?) I can be fully recovered and walking just as well as I could before I fell, pain free.

Living in His light -"They looked to him and were radiant!" Psalm 34:5 I am closing with this photo (and the video at the end)...I am often amazed at how much better my skin looks in selfies than it does in real life. If you would see the image in my phone before I take it, shadows, sags, wrinkles, age spots, but somehow, a flash of light and everything looks smooth and great! It reminds me of what the light of Christ does spiritually for us all - as His light and truth reflect off of us, we become a messenger of Him, a reflection of His power and grace - and His true beauty shines through us and can cover all that's wrong with us as we reach out to love others with the love He has given us!

Please pray I can weather this well, and appropriate as well as radiate Christ, through it all!  I need His help for that.  In my flesh, I will admit I feel sad and discouraged at times, sometimes more than others, it kind of comes and goes, but the recent development of six more weeks has me reeling a bit.

But in Him and with His strength, I can hope. And trust my maker. He has me, and he has this!

My favorite violinist has at last put the only Bach video of his that I know of on his YouTube channel so I am able to embed it here and share it with you!!! :) The beauty of his playing combined with the spiritual depth and beauty and focus of JSBach, the composer, brings me peace and I will admit I have listened to it on many rough days and found it helped me relax and look to God.  Hope you take some time to listen to it, and that it blesses you too!

God bless you all so much! Linda