So, uh, today was...not what I expected.
First off, I didn't fall asleep until about 5:30 this morning. I spent basically the entire night praying, begging God for today to bring me answers, for Him to provide the explanation for these months of constant severe pain so that I could finally get some relief. The pain is getting harder and harder to deal with, and at the rate things are going, it's looking awfully iffy as to whether or not I'll be able to finish everything I need to for the semester on time.
I felt confident all morning...until I got to the hospital. As soon as I walked in the doors and headed for the CT scan, I somehow just knew that it was going to be normal. And it was. When I saw my neurosurgeon, I explained everything that was going on and what the neurologist had said, and he told me the CT today looked exactly the same as it did in October. And he showed us the pictures...it did.
Then he started stuttering and stammering as he told me that if my shunt is fine then the problem isn't his concern and the neurologist is going to have to figure it out. When I told him that my neurologist sent me to get an appointment with him because she doesn't know what to do, all he said was "well, you need to periodically check your shunt, anyway." Yeah...he doesn't have the greatest bedside manner. I guess when you're the head of pediatric neurosurgery at basically the best hospital in the world, you don't have to. I started crying right there in the exam room. Never thought I'd be crying because my shunt was fine. He sent me to get an X-ray to check the setting on the valve that controls the shunt, and that was fine, too. We have a shunt flow test scheduled for Friday, but chances are extremely high that that is going to come back normal, too. So help from my neurosurgeon is out. But we also have an appointment with him after the test, and I'm going to ask him if there's another neurologist that he could recommend because I have to find some help. It's not an option anymore.
After we left Duke, Mom felt so bad for me because I was so upset that I still have no answers that she drove straight to my neurologist to try to see her, but she was packed full, which meant I couldn't even get a Demerol shot for some temporary relief because nurses aren't allowed to do those. I have an appointment with her Friday afternoon after the Duke stuff, and we're basically going to just beg her to think of something else. I seriously am that desperate.
And I'll be honest: this afternoon, when all of this was going on, as I was texting an update to all the people who have been faithfully praying for me and this appointment, I was furious. I was just mad, and I think anyone would be in my shoes. My headaches started getting worse/more frequent 10 months ago, and they've been 24/7 constant for just shy of 5 now. I'm so exhausted and I really thought that if anyone would be able to figure out what is wrong, it would be my neurosurgeon. I sobbed all the way through hospital and during the car rides, screaming at God in my head that this feels like it's slowly destroying me.
I'm not mad anymore. I still have plenty of questions, but I'm not mad. I have no choice but to trust God right now because my faith is all I have left; I know that I can't survive this on my own and that I need Him now more than ever. The thing that is weighing on me the most, though, is that I know full well that He is capable of healing me because He's healed me from so much already, and I really, really don't understand why He's choosing not to. I don't know why He's saying no when all I'm asking for is to be free from this pain.
But then, I started getting responses from some of the people I texted, and they reminded me of who I am at heart and what I know is true. God is still good, and I love Him. And as I felt the love poured out through my friends' words, I was reminded that I am not alone. I am not alone. The same God that has saved my life multiple times put these incredible, faithful friends in my life to hold me up when I can't stand on my own. And that's exactly how I felt today. I was texting Taylor and I said, "Thanks for helping hold me up. The enemy is trying to break me." I was reminded of how Aaron and Hur held Moses' arms up when he couldn't lift them anymore. These people, these beautiful, patient, thoughtful, caring people, are my Aaron and Hur. That's a blessing, for sure.
I got to have a quick chat with Kyla when I was in Walmart, and I was just talking to her about how I was feeling about not getting any answers today. I'm so thankful that I have friends that just listen without judgment. It never ceases to amaze me that one of them is a girl I've never actually met. :) While I was listening to something she was saying, I remembered a question I've had before - what good could possibly come out of this mess that is better than the story I could tell if He healed me? And then I remembered that God had already answered that question today.
One of the people I sent out a text update to after we left Duke was Chris Plekenpol, that pastor in Texas that I've kept in touch with. He wrote back "Please post on the city your prayer request. People were REALLY moved by your story." I may have mentioned it before, but The City is this online community for his church that he asked me to join so I could share my story with his congregation. I wrote back, "I will tonight when I get back to my computer. Glad to hear that at least something good is coming from this mess." He said "It's very good. Grateful for you." On a day when I felt like I was falling to pieces, someone whom I have come to really respect and look up to tells me they're grateful for me, and tells me again that my story has had a big impact on people, even people I've never met and probably never will meet.
So many of the people who responded to my text showed great faith when I probably sounded like I was questioning everything. Even though the results of today felt like a big fat "NO" from God, they encouraged me to continue to pray that that no is actually a "not yet" and my healing will still come. Because I know that it's possible. I don't know if I will be healed, but I know and was reminded in spades today that God will use whatever situation, being pain-free or being caught in this pain, to do some really awesome, life-changing stuff that I could never do on my own...like minister to a church in Texas full of complete strangers.
Most importantly, I know that God is still who He has always been. He never changes. That's something I can rely on no matter what health complication (or any complication, for that matter) I am facing. A quote from one of my favorite authors, Angie Smith, sums it up perfectly. This was her immediate response after she received a heartbreaking, fatal diagnosis for her unborn daughter and a nurse asked her what she was thinking. It's what I've been saying since I calmed down after the tears stopped this afternoon. And it's true. I know it in my soul.
"I think my Jesus is still the same as he was before I walked through that door."
And praise the Lord for that.