Yes, this side of Paradise does have its challenges.
I know because I have just lived through one!
Actually, 'lived' may not be the exact word – but I'll leave you to be the judge of that.
Anyone who has ever had an attack of sciatica may well have an inkling of where I am coming from. Having lived for years with neuralgic pain left by shingles I frequently took strong pain killers. On this particular sunny morning I was breakfasting in the garden, admiring the sparrows and starlings bathing in the fountain and scrapping over seeds left on the bird table.
The blossoms still hung on the apple and plum trees in the orchard beyond and their sweet perfume permeated the air. One of those beautiful days when one is pleased to be alive.
God is still on His Throne, and all is well with my world.
Aaaaagh. An invisible entity must have thrust a red hot sword into my thigh, directing the pain into my hip and down my right leg. This pain is all consuming as it draws the beauty of this perfect morning from my very soul. Then, mercy of mercies, it is gone again just as swiftly as it arrived.
But, relief is short lived as it returns with equal intensity and renewed vigour.
Throughout that first week I walked the floor day and night, praying and wailing intermittently
Only by overdosing on my shingles medication did I manage to stop myself from going insane.
Let me see if I can possible explain how this pain works? First there is the baseline, dull, dreadful ache, with the intermittent stabbing pains in several places at once.
A visit to my GP seemed in order, but did not prove to offer any relief. I was a bit tetchy during my visit, reprimanding him for calling me 'Dear.' (Well, I had to focus on something other than the pain.)
A second visit to my GP at which I pulled no punches. “I cannot stand this pain any longer, you must give me something to help.” He listened and prescribed slow release morphine based pain relief and liquid Oramorph (again morphine based.) This is in addition to my normal pain killers. When that didn't work either he increased the dose, and said that he would continue to increase until we 'got on top of the pain.' Help! I'm going to end up as a morphine addict and I'll probably still be in agony.
Well, you've probably guessed by now that didn't work either, so I saw a different (my favourite) GP. Did I mention that I was still continuing to overdose on my pain killers?
Well, he told me off for that and threatened to withdraw my medication if I continued.
“Well, then you will just have to give me a prescription for a shotgun.”
He heard me!
The morphine based sticking plasters and cocktail of other drugs began to take the edge off the pain while I waited to see a physiotherapist. He quickly informed me that he could not help me either.
So now I awaited an appointment to see a specialist.
During that four months I prayed a lot, rebuking the pain in the name of Jesus. But I must have been doing it wrong because the pain did not take the least bit of notice.
I have always been, and remain against suicide, but let me tell you that if one is in enough pain one WILL take whatever is necessary to escape the agony. At this point Paradise does actually become an attractive alternative to suffering.
Looking back, it is easy to see the humour in situations, like the consternation of my GP as I reprimanded him for calling me 'Dear,' and the face of the salesgirl as she watched me hobble around the shop gasping and groaning.
The good news is that I finally have an appointment with my specialist.
Yes, this side of Paradise can be both heaven and, well...agony.
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