Yesterday morning I was filling out yet another set of medical forms before going under anesthesia…for the 21st time…in only two and half years. It was my fifth doctor’s appointment of the week…yet I grinned at the question in front of me: “What do you want to achieve with your treatment?” I chuckled to myself as I began to write my answer that seemed to stump every doctor who has taken the time to read it: “I want to squeeze every little drop of living out of this life that I possibly can.” Apparently they don’t get that answer very often because it has made several of my doctors look at me a little differently…maybe, just maybe, I’m not just trying to get a script for pain meds out of them? Maybe there is more to this girl than meets the eye? And is it possible that this woman’s pain has allowed her to see something that I have missed?
I was diagnosed about a year and a half ago with occipital neuralgia. What this means is that the occipital nerve that comes out between vertebrae at the top of the neck and branches out and over the whole head is somehow impinged and angry. The result is daily headaches that mimic migraines but do not respond at all to migraine medications. If I let the headaches progress, the pain moves into my eye area and if I don’t catch it with medication early enough, the day is blown…I end up in fetal position in a dark room rocking back and forth and fighting against the oh-so-lovely ice-pick-through-my-eyes sensation that results and persists.
Through the nearly 22 months of headaches, I have become extremely light-sensitive…not just to the brightness of lighting but to the quality of lighting as well (for example, fluorescent lights are the devil!) and since I am a person who thinks in terms of analogies, I can’t help but think that this is an analogy for a spiritual application here too. I didn’t think much about the light that was present around me until I became very sensitive to it. I didn’t think much about the source of light around me until not being aware started causing me physical pain. Becoming acutely aware of lighting has caused me to also look at sources of light in my heart-space…where do I find joy?…what are the life-breathing things?…and how does this connect to “squeezing every drop of living out of this life that I possibly can?”
The answers to these questions have surprised me as I have found light or blessings in some of the most unexpected places (along with the places that I would have expected): a morning without pain, watching my kids get along, a hug and kiss from my husband when he gets home from work, being able to have patience with my kids despite being in pain, my son’s God-given compassion, watching our dogs wrestle and play, my daughter’s passion for creating and exploring, a chance to have a really good belly-laugh, a thoughtful and kind word from a friend, good medical insurance, the sound of birds chirping, playing games with my family, a good medical test result for someone I love, my husband’s seemingly endless supply of patience with my ongoing medical issues, moments of pain-free clarity where I can think and create, and even the pain itself…because if I approach it well, I can sometimes derive strength from it.
This is more than just a “Find the blessings from God” pep talk for myself…more than a “Things could certainly be worse” cliche. What I am getting at is that each moment requires some analysis and effort to be present. What does squeezing every bit of living out of life look like right now? What could I be doing right now that would be life-breathing for myself or those I love? Where am I not living a full life and how can that change? And every time I ask myself those questions, I find more opportunities…opportunities to love well, to learn something new, to pour into someone else, or just observe the sources of light around me right now.
So how are you doing with this? While you probably don’t suffer from O.N., you likely have pain in your life. What could your pain be helping you to see? Where are you going through the motions instead of being intentional with your time here? Could you be squeezing more living out of your life?
My prayer today is that we would all glean as much as we can from our time here…that we would be intentional with, not only our time, but all of our resources (including our pain)…and that we would see where God has placed light in our lives. I am praying that we would live fully and love well.
Much love friends,