An Authentic, Sometimes Gritty, and Always Hopeful Blog for All Who Live with Severe Physical Pain

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pain Theater

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…"
Proverbs 14:16

(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.

Being real--



  1. WOW, Judi. You are real...

    Those of us who suffer with "invisible illnesses" will appreciate this post because it's so real. We can all picture ourselves in similar situations.
    hat actress is in all of us, I suppose.


    But, you, dear Judi, "act" with such grace!!! I believe the grace you spread with your words back to others, is WHO YOU REALLY ARE, not just an act. A woman filled with the grace of our Lord Jesus. A woman who can ONLY spread the goodness of her heart. A woman whose spirit is in more control than her flesh, who would once in a while love to let someone have it in response to ignorant comments.

    You are an example to us of the grace of God during suffering. I see your life as more of a teacher than an actress. I certainly understand the flesh and it's desire to lash out! But, you offer only grace to the hearers. And for that I applaud you.


    1. I don't know how to reply to such kind words...I don't deserve them. If you lived with me, you would know that. I pray that I could be this woman.

  2. Judi-
    Well-this post is beyond amazing!!! Was the "Actress" sitting beside you, urging the words on as you posted? My God-what a "Opening of the Heart" you have done, letting all who come and read these words learn about REAL, LIVE, PAIN!!

    Now-as to that "Doctor" let me just say the Hairs are standing up on the back of my neck and I am filled with Anger as to his pathetic bed-side manner.

    You are one strong woman to have sat there as he made such a horrible remark to you-not giving a second of thought as to whether his words might "wreak havoc inside your heart" as he just moved on! Sorry Judi-but I could give him one real swift KICK in the Behind!!

    A few years ago as I lay on a table, fearing I had breast cancer and was being prepared for the Biopsy Surgery, this Doctor was getting ready to put a "Wire" inside my breast that served as a guide during the surgery-before he started to insert it, he paused ever so briefly and said "Martha, this is NOT going to hurt at all!" I glanced up at the nurses, and caught a "look" on their faces that told me this was definitely going to Hurt! Judi-I don't know WHY these next words came out of my mouth but they did "Doctor, have you ever Had a wire inserted in your breast?" He said "No-Men don't need this procedure done!" My steady glare never left his face as I said "You know Doc, I have come up with a brand new idea for Men being tested for Testicular Cancer!" He didn't even pause as his excitement got the best of him and said "Please tell me about it!" That was ALL I needed! "Okay Doc, you lower your trousers, walk up to this plate of heavy plastic, then arrange your "Jewels" there--now HOLD your breath for a few minutes because another Bigger piece of Plastic Glass is closing in to SQUEEZE everything!"

    Judi-his face was WHITE- as I calmly looked at the nurses who were choking back laughter and said to him "So Doc, do you Think that might HURT? From now on-unless you have HAD a procedure done on your body, Do NOT tell a patient--It will NOT hurt!" He was bobbing his head up and down and quietly promised me "I will never use those words again!"

    Sorry for this lengthy post but it brought that memory back and I had to share this with you. Judi you are filled with GRACE-its brimming over. I know it does not take that Pain away-but I believe with all my heart as your inner "Actress" stands beside you at these horrible moments-Grace carries you forward. How I wish there was a way I could help you.

    Chronic Pain-its a force to be reckoned with.

    All my love to you Judi. Martha

  3. You are hysterical!! What moxie!! OMgosh!! Yes, although the "actress" stands beside me in the horrible moments,it is Grace that carries me forward...I must remember this.. thank you!! What beautiful words...

  4. Judi-
    Yes I have been known to "tell it like it is" and not think before opening my mouth! But I have a feeling, that doctor is careful about what he says to a patient!

    Grace-oh my what a loving word-and you are right, Grace does carry you forward. Sometimes when the Pain is so miserable, its pretty tough to See the Grace, but its there.

    I believe you have an "amazing Actress" inside you and she helps to take some of these "blows" to soften them from hurting you any further. Judi-I think you are fantastic.

    God bless you my dear. Its my special honor to know you.


  5. As it is an honor to know you, my blogging friend...

  6. Martha you are exactly the right women to minister to Judi...and you Judi I was shaking my head as I read this raw post. I too remember so well a doctor after I had showed him how my collar bone on my right side stick out much more then the left side. (It's actually almost out of the socket) He took his pointing fingers and put them side by side and ask me to look at them and see if I could tell they were not the same. I wanted to slap that doctor head off... he so talked down to me. But let me tell you girl, that never happened again...any doctor or theapist I remind them I have lived with this frail body for 65 years and know it well so treat me like I have some knowledge and wisdom
    Because we have lived in such primitive locations we learned to diagnose and treat so many things. The hard part is in the states you cannot get most medicine that will help you without seeing a doctor. Soooooo we have to go to a doctor for meds. I always carry a card with my meds on them...past and present and readily give the doctor what helped me, for how long and for sure what doesn't help. Like for instants...for years I took anti anxiety meds to help me sleep since a good night sleep is worth its weight in gold. But in the past two years it has not helped and I would also take Ambiem when we travel especially to those helicopter locations in the jungles or long road trip in a car in the states. I on my own started cutting down on this med and taking ambiem more often. So when I recently went to the doctor and told him, he said good, the anti anxiety meds were more addictive then the sleep aides. Well I knew this cause I had researched it. (Sorry I am writing so much but your post brought this all the the surface) Your post gives me courage Jedi just as Martha comments did. Those doctor may have went to school for years but not longer then I have lived in my body and I am the one who lives daily with my fibermyalgia pain.

    There is so much in this world we have no control over and it's clear it rains on the just and the unjust. I am very grateful when I come across a GOOD DOCTOR. Thankfully we just established a new primary doctor here in California and I think I am going to like him.

    Jedi...Martha and Diane thank you, thank you, thank you for not keeping your chronic illness tucked away where it helps no one including yourselves. I have cried with you, laughted and fell on my face for my circle of wise hearted women God has brought into my life. I wish I could look into your eyes face to face but God has allowed myself and others to look inside your hearts and thats enough until He shouts and takes us home, I expect Him soon. Blessings

    1. Thank you, Betty, for sharing all of this--my life is so enlarged by all who comment--all these friends who journey with pain and run our races...sometimes limping...but pursuing Christ! I really liked your comment, "Those doctors may have gone to school for years, but not longer than I have lived in my body, and I am the one who lives daily with my fibromyalgia pain." Powerful stuff, there, friend!

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  8. Yes, Martha and Betty, those words should put them in their proper decorum. They have no right telling us like children, promising this and that won't hurt when they never have to undergo what's on hand.

    That doctor too, must get more research, further studies and development with the aim at helping those in need of relief.... rather than go brandishing his own ignorance by blaming some complications by previous fellow-practitioners. He should know that everything has a purpose and nothing happens without God's go-signal.... his business though, should be elevating himself to places of knowledge that would make him a minister of physical restoration and aide to his patients..

    He needs to be a doctor-after-God.... so that his academics will be enhanced by the first and greatest physician-GOD.

    Sorry Lord, for I might have been judging him. I am praying for him together with ACTRESS...... Thanks dearest grace-filled-alter ego of Judi.... for reminding this gal.... if not I might have gone farther.

    Clicked, I did, to make this feeling known......

    1. I hear you, Lolita; how we must remember to pray always!! Blessings, Judi

  9. Judi-
    I dropped in to say how much I agree with Betty! All of us who are living with Chronic Pain-there is not doubt that WE know our bodies better than any doctor could dream of.

    People have asked me through the years to "Describe" my pain to them and after I draw a very DEEP breath-thinking to myself, "well is this the moment when I need to DROP my Pants and show them EXACTLY which Spot drives me batty?" Instead I work for a visual image and say "Well, take some BIG rubber bands, wrap them as tight as you can around your wrist. Then leave them there and WAIT!" I swear they look at me with this blank look and say "Well Gee Martha, thats really going to start HURTING!" I will not say what my mind thinks when I hear this but I do ask them "Now-try to imagine the Hurting feeling NEVER going away-instead it just stays there all the time!"

    The look is much different on their faces as they tell me how sorry they are that I have to live with such pain. I thank them and then ask them to Please say ONE prayer for me and then say lots of prayers for all those who suffer with this agonizing Pain.

    Its tough-but Judi I am learning so much from YOU-as I listen to the Grace-filled heart you have and I will say this without any hesitation; You are one Class-Act Woman, graced by God! What a joy you are to all and we are all learning from YOU.

    God be with you each moment of the day. Martha

  10. When you use your rubber band comparison you really help people explain your pain--it is a great help to others, as hard as it is for them to believe that you live with that much pain on a regular basis. Plus, it also advocates for the rest of us in the "invisible pain" community. Also, when you ask them to say one prayer for you and lots of prayers for others who suffer, you give them something to active to do, without leaving them feeling guilty or helpless--how wise! And, how wonderful! Thank you for this example!


    1. Judi-
      I thank you for this lovely compliment and it really does help me, more than you know. Over the years, so many people have asked me "what the Pain feels like" and I struggled to find a comparison-when my mind settled on this example.

      Nobody has ever offered to "TEST" this out-which is very telling and as I see it now, they are actually "thinking" what that would feel like-not just for a few minutes-but all the time!

      Thank you so much for the comment about me asking people to just say ONE prayer-its amazing to see their reactions-and you are so right, it DOES give them something to do. One person asked me "Well, what should I say in the prayer-its not something I am very good at."

      I simply say "All you have to say is Please GOD-help that Person!" HE will hear your words!

      My heart pushes me to try this-as I know the power of Prayers!

      Bless you Judi. My heart is deeply touched today.