Yesterday afternoon I went to the doctor to find answers for the back spasms that I’ve been having. The first episode was in late September, here and gone in a painful, scary night. The spasms didn’t rear their ugly face again until early November, but again they were over within a night. The past week or two though, the spasms, or at least an aching and discomfort, have been nearly constant. On Saturday night it was painful to the point of inducing vomiting.
During the doctor’s examination yesterday, we discussed what might have caused this recurrence with such intensity. Among a number of possible culprits, the doc asked me if I have been stressed.
For the two seconds that I said, “Uhhhhh,” the last three months of my life zipped through my head. My grandmother’s death. The October grant deadline, the intense two-week deadline for part one of my comprehensive exams, and the general chaos of graduate student life that keeps me straddling the edge of sanity. My brother’s November house fire. Tough conversations about travel expectations to visit family, especially around the busy holiday season. The busy holiday season. My step-dad’s admittance to the ICU with numbers in his blood report skyrocketed to levels that bodies don’t survive. Crying with my mom as we discuss end-of-life decisions for this husband, this father of ours.
“Uhhhhh, yeah. I think so.”
Saturday night around 3 a.m. I thought Brian was asleep. I was tossing and turning in bed, frustrated that no position worked comfortably and feeling hopelessly miserable with the aching and throbbing. I swung my arm behind me and gripped mid-back where the pain was the worst. Moments later a hand touched me in that same spot.
“What are you doing?”
“What are you doing?!”
“I just felt like I was supposed to be praying for your back right now.”
I burst into hot tears, “It hurts so much!” Brian prayed. He put a hot cloth on my back. He held my hair as I threw up. He made me a bubble bath at which we laughed as the bubbles seeped over the edge of the tub. He coaxed me to sleep after 4 a.m. even though he had to be up in less than two hours. I tried to apologize over and over for the inconvenience, but he never let me.
What would we do without the strength and support of our loved ones during our stressful, weak times in life? I feel the touch of their hands on me, praying for me, lifting me, easing the weight of my burden. Sure, when the doctor asked me if I have been stressed all of these events from this fall flooded into my mind, but the woes from the past three months have rarely been in the forefront of my thinking. It’s the blessings that I see. I see the fortitude and devotion of family and friends. I see love and joy that surpasses understanding. I see the eternal perspective in my soul that tells me that a house, a job, suffering, life on this Earth,…these are all temporary. There is so much more for which to hope and to live.
Yes, I am so richly blessed.