Next week, assuming nothing changes, I will have been in pain for one consecutive year. I can remember the day it began vividly. David and I were in Baltimore for his work. I was 8 months pregnant. I woke up one morning, the first week of May, looked at him and said, "I think the baby bruised me last night" as I pointed to a spot about an inch below my sternum, slightly to the right. I've been able to point to that exact spot every day since because it still hurts.
The first few weeks I didn't think much of it. Then as my blood pressure began creeping up in the late weeks of pregnancy I began worrying about liver problems. A quick check at the OB confirmed all was well in that regard. It was probably just the baby snuggling under my rib cage.
I didn't realize at the time that most women don't find it hard to stand longer than 30 minutes at a time because of "baby in rib cage" and worried no more. I honestly thought I was just being over sensitive to the pain, tried to ignore at as best I could and spent much time in the recliner, the only place I found relief.
The pain did ease up after delivery. I no longer have problems standing, but it's there. Usually hovering just below the surface, surprising me with knife like intensity when I use to many muscles in gardening or Caleb gives a well placed kick. I've had two ultrasounds, one CT scan and tons of blood work. It all says I'm fine, but the pain persists.
I'm not a stranger to pain. I had an incredibly painful surgery (as in, they give you an epidural for pain relief afterward) my last year of highschool that left me in on/off chronic pain for 4 years. Then, the rod was removed and things got better quickly. This is however, the first time I've not known the cause of my pain.
Four years is a long time to be in pain, but not knowing what the cause is or when/if it will end is harder. There are days the discouragement brings me to tears, but as with all trials, I've found it's gradually refining me, like pressure turns coal into diamond.
I so often find myself returning to 2 Corinthians 12:7-8 for comfort. Are these verses about healing? Nope. They're about how God sends Paul a thorn for his flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment him so that he does not become conceited. Paul prays 3 times for it to be removed. God says no.
God would rather allow Paul to live with this problem than for him to get swallowed up by sin. I know some may find that idea offensive, but I find it so comforting! I would so much rather have trouble and be brought close to God, than to have all happiness and forsake him. Not that the two have to be mutually exclusive, but my sweetest times with the Lord have all come during difficulty.
I am learning to take refuge in the fact that God is both sovereign and good. I can trust that there is nothing I need that he does not supply and that I need nothing which he withholds, even healing.
It's been hard for me to reconcile at times that this isn't a detour of His plan for me. It's happening so it is part of his plan. This is especially hard when I weigh my desire to have a larger family against my desire to not be on what is effectively modified bed rest and incredible pain in the final months of pregnancy.
I don't know where this twist in what I thought was the path will lead us. Will we only have a few children? Will we adopt? These are questions my mind asks when it is anxious, but rather than attempting to predict what will happen I try to simply pray that God will make the way clear to us when the time comes. Often I want him to illuminate the whole path when he wants me to walk in faith to the next lighted step.
I share this for two reasons. One, I hope it will be an encouragement to my friends who also have chronic pain that you have more company (and I admire you so much!) and two, that you who pray would be interceding on my behalf to trust, be patient and if it's God's will, to be healed. Whatever testimony God has for my life, whether it's joy in healing or trust through pain, I am willing.