It sucks the energy our of your body.

It sucks the fun out of your play.

It sucks the patience out of your personality. (Not that I had much… but still.)

It sucks the sleep out of your nights.

It sucks the work out of your day.

It sucks the use out of your body.

It sucks.

And I have it.

It started this summer. I’d ride my bike and my hands would go tingly. Then numb. Then I couldn’t shift gears with my fingers. Then, it didn’t go away.

Finally, one morning I couldn’t zip up my pants or fasten my bra. I also couldn’t cut my own meat at dinner. My left hand was zombie-fied.

I was scared. “Carpal Tunnel? MS? A tumor?” And a thousand other disturbing things went through my mind. Then- I told my husband and went to urgent care.

The ER doc asked questions. A lot of questions.

Then she pressed on my back. I had to hold onto the gurney to avoid a skateboarder like move…..I wanted to jump off that thing.

Not good.

I had no idea it hurt back there.

Then x-rays. Lot’s of X-rays.

And waiting. To much waiting even for a busy day at urgent care. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. 30 minutes and I held the fashion statement no one wants to make closed at the back to peek out the door and see if they’d left for the day.

Nope.

Back to the gurney.

More waiting.

Then: “Mrs Solomon, I had to send your X-rays to be read. Have you been in a car accident?”

“Well.. yeah.. by 43 I’ve been in a few…. what are you talking about?”

“The X-rays show: Severe Arthropathy bone spurs and narrowing in your spinal canal.”

“You need to follow up with your primary care physician…”

I walked out of urgent care in a fog, and I hadn’t even filled the vicodin prescription she’d handed me.

A few days later I went to my primary care doctor. He quietly read through my file.

“I think you’ll need surgery. I’d like you to schedule an appointment for an MRI asap, and you’ll need to see a neurosurgeon.”

“I have a trip to go on. I have to go.I’m on the board and its my first meeting!” (I may have whined.)

“You can go if you schedule both before you leave.” (He meant it.)

He handed me a referral card and had the nurse hook me up to the tens unit for a few minutes of therapy. (Which is like hooking a long dead- dry as a bone battery to a charger and hoping it will start. It didn’t. )

I lay there being zapped by an over priced bug zapper for what felt like an eternity as I texted my husband to meet me for breakfast. And a good cry.

I was expecting a prescription. I was expecting physical therapy or more tests or SOMETHING. I was not expecting a referral to a neurosurgeon.

But thats what I got.

That was in August.

Today is October 13.

We have tried everything, including but not exclusive to-  a course of steroids. (They just made me cranky and bloated- like 3 months of stored of period- bloated. Not good. Or helpful.) A pain killer for nerve pain. I may as well have taken tic-tacs.  Exercises to stretch out my neck. (Which could have worked if bone spurs weren’t part of the problem… have you tried stretching out bone spurs? um yeah- not.) We bought a new mattress. We bought a recliner. (I don’t know- I thought if I could just get comfortable it would get better.)

I ordered and bought every type of pillow you can imagine. My bed is like a museum for pillows. A side sleeper pillow. A therpedic pillow. A tempurpedic pillow. If I could have found an orthopedic pillow I’d have bought that too. I bought several neck pillows. (The cheetah one is my favorite- cause it’s PRETTY.) I bought pillows to go between my knees and keep my spine aligned. (They don’t work unless my spine is on the floor-  I kick them off while I sleep.) I bought pillows approved by chiropractors and maybe Mother Theresa. (I made the last part up. Probably.)

I bought heat pads and ice packs. I bought lotions and potions and liniments. (I thought those were only in Little House on the Prairie- but apparently, not.) I smelled like a cross between an old man and feet. It didn’t help- but it kept people from bumping into me… because they couldn’t stand to be near me!

Nothing has helped.

However- my hand does work now- for the most part. (If tingling and itching from nerve impingement is called: working- anyway.)

I havent ridden my bike because I’m afraid it will make it worse. (Im partial to the use of my hands….and quitting the bike- at least temporarily- has been the only thing that’s improved anything.)

I can’t sleep. I can’t sit too long- or stand too long. I can’t carry heavy things or turn my head to check my blind spot on the freeway. (It’s been like playing frogger… I just check and go– fast….hoping I don’t hit anything. OK- thats a lie. Mostly. I turn from my waist and ask who ever’s in the car to look. ) I get headaches if I turn my head too much. I get instant zombie hands if I lean on my arms… (like on a counter top.)

When a crushing pain started to radiate down my arm, I thought I was having a heart attack.

I wasn’t.

But I’ve come to a heartbreaking realization- I need surgery.

And the surgery won’t fix this. It will only treat my symptoms.

I have degenerative disc disease. I have arthritis in my spine. There is no pill. There is no cure.

That: sucks.

I’m afraid. I’m afraid of having surgery and of not having surgery.

I’m only 43. (Yes I said “only” I ‘m not the OLDEST human on the internet. I don’t think.)

But I have hope.

That does not suck.

I have hope that even though I’m angry. God is patient.

I have hope that when it hurts, God weeps. Because he cares.

I have hope that even though I couldn’t write for weeks because I was pouting and angry AT GOD…. (yup- it’s been a little quiet around here.) he can handle my tantrum.

I have hope because, even when I’m afraid, he is not.

I have hope that when I am afraid- God is still real.

I have hope- because no matter what happens- I am loved and I won’t be alone. I have my husband. I have my family. I have my friends. All things I know God has brought into my life.

I have hope because God is bigger than both my depression and pain. (depression= anger turned inward…. yup- that’s where i’ve been.)

I have hope because I also have a great doctor. An amazing doctor. Who just so happened to put my mom’s spine in order last spring. (That referral wasn’t an accident…. it was God.)

A doctor who will be doing surgery- Tuesday, October 18th.

So, there. That’s what I haven’t been talking about, since my last post.

It sucks.

I’d rather write funny things. I’d rather write THE BOOK, for pete’s sake.

But, this is where I am. What you see is what you get.

I am Broken. Hurting. Afraid and hopeful.

“Dear Jesus- I hate this. I hate pain and I hate being afraid. This sucks. But I love you. I know you are with me. You’re in the referral… in the love from others… in the word and present with me in my anger and depression.You’ve even been in the quiet. Lord- I don’t want surgery- but I WANT it to get better. If this is what it takes- please use it Lord…and Lord– all those things on hold in my life.. from home to family to ministry… YOU hold them all and I ask you to help me remember that. They belong to you- not me. You will accomplish the works you’ve started.. in me- them and in the world.. amen.