Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Body I Was Born With

Oftentimes we go into a new year with high hopes.  We want to change our eating habits, or lose weight.  Perhaps we vow to read our Bibles more, to pray more.  We don't go into a new year (usually) wondering, "Well, I wonder what can go wrong this year..."

And while I did not go into the new year with any of the thoughts I mentioned above, the new year dealt our family a blow that we are still recovering from.  I've thought about sharing some of that struggle here, but I just haven't felt a prodding in my heart to do so.  I will say though, parenting is tough on the best of days.
 No one wants to lose a child.  


And when you are a faced with situations that could potentially cause your child their life, you dial back all the unnecessary things in your life and you deal with them.  You step up and you protect your child and you try to put the pieces together and pray that you will all come through it on the other side.  God has continued to show himself faithful and good to our family, and the fear that I will one day lose one of my children is overshadowed by the peace of knowing that God has his hand on me and my family and that nothing that happens in this life will be too difficult to entrust into the hands of the Father.

So, this first month of the new year has been a challenge, both personally and physically.  What I hoped surgery in June would fix has now materialized into an even greater problem.  I've been in so much pain for the last six months.  Primarily in my left shoulder and the middle of my back.  About two weeks ago, neurological symptoms returned (on top of the sometimes debilitating pain) and rather than suffering through it all for the next four years, I made an appointment with my surgeon and pushed to have a new MRI done on my cervical and thoracic spine (neck and upper/middle back).

Today I sat down with the surgeon and got the results.

There was bad news, and there was worse news.  I'm not sure there is any other way to describe it.

The bad news is that there is a herniated disc at C3&4, and another herniation at T3&4.  If the herniation in my neck (C3&4) were causing the shoulder and back pain this time around, the surgeon would be confident that surgery would provide relief.  However, and to his dismay it seemed, the likely culprit for my newest symptoms and pain lie with the herniation at the T3&4 level.  That's basically the middle of my back.  You know, right at the same level as...oh...you know...my heart...

The surgeon told me that he HATES that surgery.  Not that he can't do it or that it is a difficult surgery for him.  But that because it so often only replaces old pain with new, different pain, he doesn't like to do it.  He even told me that the pain management doctor will think he's crazy for trying an epidural injection at that level, because they often don't have good results.

The surgery at that level is not only highly ineffective, it is also risky.  In the neck, there isn't much between the incision point and the disc itself.  In the back, there are all kinds of road blocks and organs to get around.  In the case of this herniation, it would require moving the heart to get to the disc, and even if the surgery itself caused no immediate crisis, it most likely would not help.  If it did help, my surgeon said that the 3 or 4 pains I'm getting rid of would just be replaced by 3 or 4 different ones, relating to the area where the surgery would be.

Will it be an inevitable surgery in the end?  Most likely.

But there is one last option, as physical therapy and chiropractic care, exercise and weight loss (42 pounds!) have shown to be of no help.  Steroid injections at that level.  The surgeon recommended that a pain management doctor inject the steroid directly into the spine at that level.  The reasoning is that if it alleviates the pain and other neurological symptoms, he will be able to know with certainty that is the area causing the problems.  The epidural injection is in no way a long term fix.  He wants to use this to, in his words, "diagnose and stall."  He wants to put off this middle back surgery as long as possible.  And I am in agreement with him.

If the injection doesn't change anything, it may help the surgeon to pinpoint if my symptoms really are coming from the herniation in my neck.  But the bottom line is this:  this body I was born with is broken.  There is no quick fix.  There is no long-lasting relief at this point.

Some days are more difficult than others.  Both physically and emotionally.  There are days that I get so frustrated at being limited in what I can do.  Sometimes just breathing in is painful.  And there are other days where I don't feel like the knife is twisting in my shoulder, and I can function at about 70% instead of 5%. 

I don't always get it right.  I'm not always patient in the pain.  Usually, I just want to feel better...right then.  Sometimes I struggle to entrust the pain to God...not because I don't think that he CAN take it away.  But because I believe that perhaps he is choosing not to.  Not because he is vindictive or punishing me, or because he isn't good.  God didn't promise me a life free of pain.  I've lived with this kind of pain long enough to know that I have a lot of room for improvement on how I respond to others and my life in spite of the pain.  Is it a teaching tool?  Maybe.  Will I ever have long-lasting relief?  I don't know.  I struggle to have faith and hope that I will.  It seems easier to just suck it up and move forward WITH the pain, rather than really surrendering my desire for relief to God, and risking that He will tell me no.  And perhaps that shows a degree of immaturity on my part, but it's where I am right now.

So, if I don't write as frequently (which I obviously haven't been), please know that it isn't because I don't want to, or because there isn't any part of my story/journey left to share.  Believe me-there is plenty.  But some days, after typing for 8 hours at work, the last thing I want to do is come home and type more.  I can make no promises about frequency of writing or how this blog will play out.  It is my desire to continue to be a light and to share my struggles and journey here.  But I can't see past the pain of each day to know what comes next.


  1. You are a precious, beautiful woman of God. You are an inspiration to me and others. God us using you in the midst of your pain. Praying for relief, answers, hope and healing, and above all God's will to be done. Love you to and your family, pretty lady :)

    1. Thank you for always being so encouraging Krista. You're so sweet.

  2. So sorry to hear of your chronic pain, Jamie!

    Praying for you, for healing...and for your doctors to have wisdom in know how best to address the issues.


    1. Thanks. Really appreciate the prayers. Thanks for reading.

  3. I feel for you and I'm so sorry. I too have Degenerative disc disease and have had 2 surgeries starting in my early 20's! I was diagnosed at 15 years old:( Now I'm 32 and starting to have problems again,praying for you.