The last post I wrote was a month ago, an update on our trip to Tennessee and the beauty in the midst of the ache. I have spent the last month working through the ache, dealing with crazy side effects and anxiety from medications (and weaning off of them), learning the ropes of life as a mom to a high schooler and cross country runner, and struggling with life with chronic pain and how to cope with it all.
This past Friday I woke at 5:00 a.m. with severe pain. Bri took the kids to school, came home and took me to the emergency room where they confirmed what I suspected. A kidney stone.
Yes. A kidney stone.
And yes, for those of you who haven’t experienced one, they are every bit as painful as you’ve heard.
Our friend, Zoe, met us there, helped me with my hospital gown, rubbed my back, prayed with us and sat with Brian for a couple hours while I lay in the fog of pain medications. Other friends texted, offered to come, to bring phone chargers and pick up children. I was supposed to drive carpool, but another friend covered it, no questions asked.
Six and a half hours later, I was discharged with pain medication and instructions for the weekend–stay on top of the pain. The doctor did tell us not to change our weekend plans… that as long as we were close to a hospital, it was fine for us to go on our Labor Day camping weekend. It would just seem like a different kind of labor.
I wrestled with going. Should I go to my parents’ for the weekend while Bri took the kids? What should I do? Zoe finally encouraged me to go, to enjoy being pampered by friends and time with my loves. She was right.
Brian packed us all up, I grabbed all my creature comforts, and we spent the weekend at a lake near home with friends. My in-laws had given us a camp chair with a footrest, and I curled up in that for the weekend, pillows around me, blanket, cushy socks and kindle. I struggled to get comfortable at times, but wasn’t too miserable (the nights were the hardest, drug-induced dreams and tossing and turning in pain). I drank my lemon water and pulled up to the picnic table to help slice veggies and mix dips as I could. I watched the activity around me, and I chatted with my friends, long talks as we watched our children and husbands paddle board and hang hammocks and ride bikes and beg to sleep in each other’s campers (well, our husbands didn’t beg for this!).
And I was cared for deeply. Pampered, was the word Zoe used. Pampered is right… or at least as pampered as you can be at a campground. But when steak and shrimp are on the menu, pampering is a good word.
The pain is still there, increasing this morning to the point of emptying my stomach yet again several times. I dosed up and curled up and watched everyone pack up and wondered how I was going to do this week. This was “supposed” to be my good week off of chemo, and I groaned inwardly, asking God why He was “kicking me when I’m down” and struggling to believe yet again.
Before we left, Matt drew us together. We prayed for the week and then he had us each offer prayers of thanksgiving, turning our eyes to what gifts we have. The words left my lips, they had to: “Thank you for friends who care for us in our weakness.” And my Bear, “Thank you for the privilege (yes, the PRIVILEGE) of being here this weekend together.” And Amy’s tear-filled voice, “Thank you that despite illness and schedules and all the craziness of life, we could be here, together.” We hugged our good-byes, whispered, “I love yous” through tears, and went on our way.
Then we came home to flower beds weeded and windows cleaned by friends in our absence. To a text that all the tomatoes that I couldn’t can last week, were ready.
And the words I prayed out of necessity ring in my mind, “Thank you for friends who care for us in our weakness.”
I am weak, friends. In so many ways.
Ways I haven’t written about here, because my spirit is too volatile these days. And there are things I must hold close and offer them in the safety of face-to-face.
A friend from church, Angela, has taken the reins, pursuing me with care needs, not waiting for me to say, “I need help.” But offering it, setting it up and pushing me gently to say, “Yes.” What do you need this week? She asks and makes suggestions, knowing I am too overwhelmed to figure that out sometimes. She left me a note on my counter this weekend reminding me that when I say, “Yes,” I am allowing others to be blessed as they bless us.
Oh, y’all. I am tired of being so needy.
I am tired of pain, of tears, of the loneliness that chronic pain affords.
I am tired of the false guilt that comes with asking over and over and over.
Our hearts, our minds, our spirits are weary, worn and weak.
I never thought I’d need a kidney stone to remind me of what gifts I have, but y’all, I needed to see them again, to see you again, to see Him again.
To see friends who care for us in our weakness.
(The kidney stone is still there. I am curled up still with pain meds and heating pads and my dear Ash-man jumping to meet any need I have. Please pray for this to pass quickly–and as painlessly as possible. I know several of you have experienced this, too. And you were right. I’ve given birth three times, this definitely rivals labor. Sigh.)
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