I’ve been laid up in bed since Thursday, after putting out my back, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be covered by both the loving devotion of my family and the necessary relief of pain pills.
How did I hurt myself, you ask? By bending over my sweet Chloe’s crib.
Knowing how unstable my lower back is, I always try to bend at the knees and not at the waist. But when your baby is crying and you’re hurrying to reach her… well, those purposeful and cautious movements don’t always seem important. I snapped down to reach her and immediately felt the all-too-familiar POP run across my lower back. And this experienced back-putter-outer knew it wasn’t good.
The pain wasn’t bad, at first, and I was able to move pretty well. But as the day went on, full of scary thunderstorms that had me running up the stairs to calm little ones’ fears, and full of happy packing for a visit with friends that we had excitedly been planning for, the pain became worse and moving became harder.
By the end of the night, I was more crooked than I have ever been in my entire seven-year run with back problems. Scott could barely stand to look at me, worry filling his eyes as he saw that my left hip was painfully shifted way too high, making my right hip so low towards the ground that you could barely feel the bone beneath my skin. Worry filled my mind, too, as I sat at the edge of the couch shaking in agony, unable to stop the paralyzing nerve spasms that were attacking my tensely crippled body.
I’ve tried everything from physical therapy to chiropractic care since that day, seven years ago, when my back first went out, but nothing has given me full relief. Everything seems like a Band-Aid, temporarily covering up a wound that cuts much deeper. On Friday, though, a Band-Aid was what I desperately needed. So I made an appointment with the chiropractor, received an adjustment and some massage therapy, and stared in fright at the newly-snapped x-rays of my spine. My center. A very crooked center.
Even the chiropractor’s jaw hung open as he gasped, “Do you have scoliosis?!?” Well, fortunately I really don’t think that I do. I’ve seen my back look just as bad as this, and I’ve seen it look better, but the problem is that it should never get like this to begin with. In fact, I’m probably walking around with this curve in my spine most of the time, only it gets exaggerated and painfully inflamed whenever the muscles and ligaments in my back shift, pop and pull. Who knows. I certainly don’t, which is why I am seeking the help of an orthopedic specialist on July 21st, fighting to finally have an MRI taken that might hopefully provide more answers. Better answers. Anything but guesses and advisements to “strengthen your core,” or “loosen up those tight hamstrings,” or “sit on the floor and stretch all day long.”
Because honestly, the other bit of very important info in this week’s events? I tried stepping up my calm, happy, helpful 10-minute yoga videos to a more intense blend of pilates and yoga. And for those two weeks, I was feeling great guys. Muscles were being used instead of sitting dormant, my arms and legs were taking on new shape, and I just felt stronger than I have in a really long time. But what do you do when, in order to help fix a part of your broken body, you must essentially hurt it? The very muscles I am always told to work and strengthen are connected to my back, and I can’t work the former without hurting the latter. It’s a frustrating double-edged sword, and I’m not sure how to carry it anymore.
I don’t write this post to whine, complain or seek out the sympathetic, “Poor Kim.” I also don’t write it to seek out more advise. I really, truly don’t. I am simply a writer by nature, and to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) is my personal way of working through things. Do I want your prayers? Absolutely! If you take away anything from reading this, then please let it be that. A simple plea for prayer.
I haven’t been doing much of that for myself these past few days, and I’m struggling to know why.
It might sometimes seem that I write about life as if I somehow have all the answers, and that God is always revealing truths to me in great and powerful ways. And if that is the misinformed impression that I have given any of you, then please let me fix that now.
I do not have all the answers. And I do not always hear God speaking to me in great and powerful ways.
Why? Because I am not always willing to open my heart, my mind and my Bible to seek out His voice. I am not always willing to be still and listen.
And as I start to make my way back to God, staring at my unopened Bible on the bed next to me and wondering what it is that God would have me learn right now, I think it is about exactly that–being still. Listening. Loving the body I have and the place I am in. Loving the repetitive, every day routines of being a housewife and stay-at-home-mommy. Loving the chub on my arms and the jiggle in my thighs and the perfectly unique ways that God shaped my body into being.
It might seem like I’m starting to stray from the whole back thing and lose my train of thought, but I assure you that I’m not. My back going out–the visual proof of my crooked spine–is opening my eyes to the plethora of ways in which my life’s center is crooked. Off balance. Out of whack. Lately, I’ve been waking up with thoughts about everything I could be doing to give my life more meaning and purpose, instead of seeing the beautiful ministry I have here at home. An amazing husband, beautiful children, a more-than adequate home that is happily cluttered with priceless memories. I’ve been waking up and putting my workout clothes on first, before clothing myself in the strength and power of God’s transforming Word. The stretching of my physical body has been coming before the stretching of my heart, mind and spirit, and the effects? They seep into every crack and crevice of my day.
As far as my is back concerned, I’m not sure what will happen from here but I do know that God holds the answers. He has everything under control and His grace will cover me, just as it always has and always will:
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9)
But as for the other things in my life that are tilting off balance–the spiritual center of my being–those things I am determined to re-commit to The Lord. Step by step, day by blessed day, I will fight to wake up and seek His face first. Know His ways to the utmost. Love the meaningful, purposeful, better-than-perfect life He has given me to live. And I will live it by breathing in the moments, slow and deep, not rushing to accomplish this or to fix that, but simply soaking in the perfectness of imperfectness. Accepting the help of others with gratitude and not beating myself up for those things I cannot control. Admitting when I need help and allowing the gifts of others to be used in my life.
I will continue to pray a simple but earnest prayer for help, answers and healing. And if this pain in my back is a thorn that I must learn to always carry, then I pray for the strength to do so in a way that glorifies His name. In a way that shines the light of God’s love to my children, showing them how to live as imperfect but loved, not striving to be perfect but missing out on love altogether.
I pray that, even if my physical center must forever remain crooked, that my spiritual center will always be the one to hold me upright, straight and strong.