Saturday, February 23, 2008

Trusting God ... even when in pain

Recently, I had corrective surgery on my foot to repair an injured tendon. Prior to surgery, I had two consultations with the surgeon, and I must have tuned out or been thinking about dinner during his conversations about recovery. So, on the day of surgery, I nonchalantly walked into the hospital under the impression that since the surgery was minor, the pain and recovery would be minor as well.
The surgery went as planned and I was waiting for my discharge papers 3 hours later. That is when I realized I had missed a few details. The nurse read the instructions as she handed me the papers … “fill the prescription for pain meds, don’t unwrap the dressing until you see the doctor again … and do you have crutches?”

“Wait a minute, are you sure those are my discharge papers? Because my post-op visit isn’t for 16 days … so what about showers? I don’t like meds and I don’t remember the doctor saying anything about crutches.”

“Yes dear, these are your papers … that dressing can’t get wet, so no showers. I think you will want to fill that prescription and use the crutches,” she gently responded.

As I transferred into the wheelchair for the ride to the car, I soon realized that any movement caused so much pain in my foot that it felt like a knife was cutting me. A suspicion started to grow … I think the doctor left the surgical knife in the incision!
When we got home, I had no choice but to use my crutches to go inside. (collecting medical supplies has been a hobby the past four years) I also asked my husband how fast he could get to the pharmacy and back again! The first night was so miserable that I was sure the surgery was a mistake. At times, I felt as if I needed to tear the dressing off and remove that painful knife!
Over the next few days, I did as little as I had to and I continually thanked God that my doctor had prescribed a strong painkiller. My suspicion about the knife continued to grow, especially as I slowly hobbled on my crutches. I could even picture it … about three inches in length and about an inch wide. From time to time, I had to look at my foot to reassure myself that there was no knife cutting through it.
After the first week, it finally felt better and I tentatively put some weight on my heel as the pain allowed me. By the time I went to my post-op visit; I was hobbling on my heel without the crutches.
Now as I walk with less pain and resistance, I am thankful that I couldn’t change my mind about the surgery in those first pain-filled days.

As I reflect back on those few weeks, I realize how often I do the same thing when I want to change a behavior, start a project or restore a strained relationship. I begin the process without properly preparing myself for all that is involved. The details bore me or I don’t think they apply to me. Then when things don’t happen as easily as I would like them to, I want to give up. I even give into suspicions about why things are harder then I anticipated. It has to be because of my circumstances or something others did or said. Lord knows, it would just be easier if she/he hadn’t put that ‘knife’ in there.
I need to accept the fact that change takes time and may involve pain. Only then can I embrace the process and stick to the choices that help me get the result I want. I’ve also been reminded to not give into suspicions that can easily derail a successful plan. If I had ripped open my dressing to take out the suspicious knife … the process would have taken much longer.
As I move through my days now … with a healed foot, I try to remember to not only embrace, but to prepare myself for the slow, sometimes painful, process that is needed to deal with certain issues in life and to trust God, even when in pain.