Somewhere during these six plus years with incessant white hot pain in my face and head, another woman has also come to live within my psyche. I call her “the actress” and I rely on her when I fear emotions getting the best of me.
Her acting is pretty impressive, If I do say so myself. I watch her as though from a darkened theater as her acting is fearless at times, even laughing in the face of tragedy.
She was present when I was first diagnosed and asked the doctor if my illness was fatal. He said no, it wasn’t, but that I might come to wish that it was. She was the one who managed to keep breathing, while my insides seemed to be melting into butter.
When a fellow church member stopped me in the hallway a few months after the pain came, to say that God told her I had an evil spirit inside of me, and until I had it rebuked, I would not be healed, it was the actress who did the talking. I wanted to demand of the woman just who did she think she was to say such a thing to me when she knew nothing about me or my spiritual walk! Instead, I kept silent as the actress gently told the woman that however much she disagreed, she appreciated that this woman cared about my pain.
When people come up to me and say, “Well, obviously you are doing much better--you look great!” I want to scream, as I have repeatedly tried to tell these same people how looks are deceiving for those who have “invisible illnesses”. But the actress simply says, “Well, I’m happy I look good, because I am hurting more than I would like to admit. However, it’s good to be here and to see your friendly face.” She smiles at them with what seems to be such genuine warmth, I actually begin to feel more amiable myself.
And she was there last Friday when I saw a new neurologist, praying that, however much I try to stay on top of current research and information, he might have some new ideas for me. At one point during the examination, though, he shook his head back and forth and said, “What are we going to do with you? You are a mess! If you had come to me before you listened to that other doctor, I would have fixed you right up!”
My stomach lurched and great gasps of anguish about my situation wanted to burst forth from my mouth, “I’m in awful, mind-bending pain! If you don’t know what to do with me, who does!” And I wanted to scream at him for his extreme insensitivity about my decision to “listen to the other doctor.” I’ve had to live with that decision every day for five years, trying to believe that God allowed it for His own reasons, yet wondering, if perhaps I was so out-of-touch with God that I screwed up royally.
But the actress knew better than to express these feelings because doctors tend to avoid patients who become emotional, regardless of how much pain we bear. I actually believe I saw her chin lift little bit higher when she responded, in a completely composed voice: “I suppose it is a classic case of ‘Shoulda’...Coulda’...Woulda’…’”
Sometimes I think I am waiting for the climactic scene that happens in every inspirational movie that lets you feel virtually assured that all is going to turn out okay; the part when the music soars and all the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together. After having watched anxiously, hoping for a happy ending, now you can relax. You ease back into your chair, letting that good feeling wash over you as the movie comes to its end, like a delightful kiss of spring air, a taste of sweet chocolate and a tender hug all blended together.
Sighing, I watch the actress as the appointment with the neurologist comes to a close. Will my happy ending come some day? I imagine myself, still in a theater, letting its goodness wash over me. Then, reaching for my purse, I will step blinking into the hallway, as my eyes adjust to this new world without pain. Smiling, I will dig the keys out of my purse, eager to head out and resume my proper role as the one and only star in my life. That other woman will have to find a new role to play.
God, please say it will be so someday.
"For the righteous man falls and rises…"
(Righteous (meaning right with God) women too.
I fall and I get back up; I fall and I get back up.
Thank the Lord, He pulls me back up.