Last week I had an MRI with contrast on my left hip. It is called an Arthrogram. It was a “simple” procedure. That’s easy to say. I think everyone reacts differently to this procedure. When I arrived, the nurse went over the procedure. I would get a shot in my hip, and would then get an MRI. She proceeded to give me a form called “Discharge Instructions.” No driving for 12 hours, no swimming pool for 48 hours, decrease activity for 24 hours, were just some of the instructions on the list.
I laid flat on my back on a table. The nurse rubber banded my feet together, so I couldn’t roll my leg. She cleaned the area above my hip joint, and placed a sterile sheet over my hip with a hole where the doctor will access my hip joint. So far so good. Then the doctor came in and proceeded to inject my hip with some sort of contrast solution. He warned me of the stick, but didn’t warn me of what I would feel. When the contrast solution entered the first injection, I almost jumped from the bed, and worst, I almost grabbed the doctor’s hand. I didn’t expect to feel pain on the injection. As he continued injecting contrast, I started slow breathing, in the nose out the mouth—you would have thought I was in labor! I could feel tears rolling out of my eyes, and I tried to stop them. The final push of the injection caused me to feel pain from my groin all the way to my knee. I just breathed harder! The doctor said the pain will go away quickly, and he was correct.
I moved to the MRI tube, for lack of a better word. Once again, they banded my feet together, and now they laid something over my hips and tied, buckled, whatever the word, attached them to the bed. I joked that they did this so I couldn’t escape. Headsets were put on me, and I was slowly slid into the MRI tube. I am not claustrophobic, so this wasn’t an issue for me. I would have approximately 1/2 hour in this tube as it made funny noises, which were muffled by my headset.
When I am alone and cannot use any of my senses for productive activity, I know it is a great time to reflect and to talk to God — otherwise, known as praying.
I reflected on the excruciating pain of the injection. It was nothing that I expected, and it was hard to get ahold of the pain and breathe through it. Then I thought of Brandon. He is married to my husband’s niece. He was severely burned was in the burn unit of a local hospital for two weeks, before just recently being discharged. He has had his wounds debrided (removing all the scabbing and dead tissue), and the other day he received a skin graft. The doctors harvested skin from his thighs to cover his chest, stomach, and arm. His father said that Brandon’s pain from this procedure was a 12 out of 10. They kept him in the recovery room for hours until they could get his pain to a manageable level . . . and I am complaining of an extremely painful injection? I prayed for Brandon at that moment—that God would heal him, remove his pain, and use this for a greater purpose . . . that Brandon and Hannah would feel God’s loving arms around them and give them peace and comfort. It makes my pain look minor (although at the time, it was not).
Then I reflected on Angel. He is the son of my former boss, and just the other day he received a bone marrow transplant. I thought of the worry and fear that he and his family must have while they wait to see the results of this procedure on a young boy who has a lot of life to live in front of him. I prayed for healing for him, for his family that they would feel God’s love and comfort. Once again, my severe pain of the injection was minor compared to what this young man is going through in order to give him years of a healthy life.
I realize it is all in perspective. My pain seemed pretty major at the time, and it was, but, there are others in more pain or life threatening issues than my bit of pain. We will always find someone who is worse off than ourselves. That doesn’t diminish any of our pain, but it does put it into prospective. I am facing the possibility of surgery on my hip. I have had plenty of surgeries in my past, and I know they are painful. Our bodies are not made to be cut into, to be invaded by cancers, viruses, bacterias, incisions, fire, or whatever is not natural. As long as we are on this earth, we will have illness, pain, and even death. There is no escaping.
As I think on this, I realize that what is important is my attitude during these times of physical discomfort. I am following a young mother who is getting cancer treatment, and through all of it, she and her husband continually rejoice in their faith. They are taking it one day at time, one minute at a time. I read her story on Caring Bridge, and I am inspired by their faithfulness.
I think of John O’Leary, who at age 9, burned himself on 99% of his body. He was given less than a 1% chance to live. He survived, and his recovery was not easy. Not only did his 9 year old immaturity catch him on fire, it caught his house on fire. He was in the hospital for 5 months, having his fingers amputated, and continual skin grafts. While the family home was being rebuilt, his 5 siblings and parents were staying at friend’s and neighbor’s homes. Our illnesses, our accidents, don’t only happen to us, it affects our whole families and those who love us. Today John is a motivational speaker. This young man was a huge influence in my life of getting past my issues and seeing my purpose. I am privileged that John and I have become acquainted. I won’t tell you his story, because you can read it in his best selling book, “On Fire.” This book is a tough read, but when it starts to feel tough, John’s humor comes out and gives us some relief in this dramatic story. This is a book you cannot put down once you start reading.
So, now, back to my point. “Everything in Perspective.” There are people physically better off than me, and worse of than me. What is important is my response to my physical pain. Do I wallow in my misery, or do I look forward to an answer and a solution to the problem, and know that in the big picture God is in control. I must remember the big picture or I get stuck in the mire of the details. Details will be important to find the solution of my leg/hip issue, but in the midst of the big picture, I am grateful for so many years of excellent health. I know many people who did not make it to my age. I know many people who have chronic illnesses. So far I have been spared.
What is important to me is to know who I am, why I am, and know that God is in control. I will continue to pray for my family and friends as they go through hardships and illness. I will pray for healing on this earth. I know that even if I might have to face a surgeon’s knife, I will need to keep my life in perspective. I am not in the worst shape, and maybe not in the best, but I am in the loving arms of God.