I'll Be The Judge Of That!
Many years ago I had the misfortune to fall down our stairwell of our small two bedroom apartment in the seventh month of pregnancy with what was supposed to be my first child. I was going down stairs to get a glass of water from the kitchen and lost my balance on a narrow step that goes around a corner. When I got to the bottom of the steps my right elbow was behind my left ear and my shoulder mass was now occupying the space where my armpit used to be. I was in terrific pain and screamed for my husband to help. In my fear and desperation I actually set my shoulder myself right there on my steps, even though it was very, very hard to do. The snapping sound and grinding of the bones I can still almost hear to this day.
When I went to the doctor that week I told him what happened. I asked him if there was anything he could do for the pain. He told me that there was nothing really he could do for my strained muscle. I told him, no, I had dislocated my shoulder. He explained to me that it was impossible for me to have dislocated my shoulder to that degree, because it would have been impossible for me to set it myself with no medical experience, especially being seven months pregnant. Grossly underestimating my resolve, he assured me the pain would go away, but it didn't. My pregnancy did not go well. Another (and probably my last) story.
Two years later I again went to another doctor complaining about my shoulder. "It hurts," I told him. He gave me an x-ray which revealed nothing. "There is something wrong," I insisted. He then sat down next to me and tried to explain life to me. "When you hear the sound of hoof beats outside, it may be a zebra," he said ever so condescendingly to me, "but almost always, it is a horse." After that he promptly prescribed antidepressants which I didn't even take. I was sure it was physical, not spiritual. So I took up jogging, lost thirty pounds, but my arm still hurt.
In the next fifteen years I went to three more doctors. My arm was starting to fall out of its socket often now, and had to sleep with my right arm at my side all night or suffer the consequences. I would wake up with a dislocated arm whimpering in pain that only someone who has been there could possibly understand. One of the doctors went to far as to x-ray me again, again finding nothing. Again, I was diagnosed with depression and self pity. Again and again the solution offered was antidepressants. It seemed like that was the only trick up their sleeve. I gave up for a long time, and really did begin to believe it was me.
One well meaning brethren when I stupid enough to mention it at church looked at me and solemnly said, "Exercise will stop the pain." The minister's wife dryly agreed. I knew that those things didn't work, so I just didn't talk about it much. When I did things like help re-roof a house I would wear a sling around my entire shoulder to keep it from sliding out of its socket, even though I could tell that some people treated it as an attention grabbing technique. So, most of the time when I really needed it, I wore it under my clothes.
The time came when we could no longer bear to live in the Santa Rosa church area. We moved to another area mainly to get away from "God's Chosen Ones" without leaving the "church." It was the best decision we have ever made.
I was at my new doctor's office for some minor ailment and he asked me a curious question. "Is there anything else bothering you?" I looked at him for a moment as if looking at someone from another planet. "Well," I cautiously answered, "I have had a headache for about three weeks now." Unbelievably, I was looking at an x-ray of my skull within minutes and his pronouncement was, "your sinuses are so swollen, there is almost no space in there. You are suffering from some form of allergy. See that there?" He said, pointing to the x-ray.
"Anything else?" Now I was really nervous. "Well," I said touching my shoulder, "it hurts here." He wanted to know what, when, where, and how. I couldn't believe it. He was actually listening to me. And he was writing. "What are you writing?" I asked. "I scheduling your surgery date," he answered.
Just like that, one perceptive, caring person ended sixteen years of suffering and sleepless misery. That particular pain that I had just come to accept as my lot in life was soon to be a thing of the past. It was an absolute miracle from God, and no one can convince me of anything else.
I was given over to one of the west coast's finest sport's surgeons, and with the help of four other specialists had me fixed up in less than five hours. They sent in a pencil sized probe to look at the joint. Then they amputated completely through the socket and pulled out my upper arm bone to sand down all the damage I had created on the ball over the years. Then they drilled into the socket and placed seven bolts to which they tied my shrunken arm muscles that had shriveled down into my underarm after being ripped off the shoulder socket sixteen years before. They also cut all my shoulder muscles and overlapped them by one-half inch to overcome the severe stretching that had occurred over the years. Then they wrapped me up and woke me up.
When I came out of surgery I was so afraid that after all the trouble of getting a bunch of doctors together, there was nothing wrong with me that antidepressants couldn't fix. "Did you find anything," I nervously asked. "Oh yes," he answered, "you were all screwed up. Would you like to see the photographs?" After all I had been through, I really did.
I learned much from my unpleasant experience. I had the benefit of at least five doctors that literally had x-ray vision who could not properly diagnose my ailment. Those men took a quick glance at my situation and basically said, "find a more constructive use of your time. And unless you are professional researcher don't spend take too much time to scrutinize the pain you think you are in. Get some exercise, and take this pill to fix what's in your head. Read a few books and you will realize that you are just a tiny pawn in the grand scheme of things, rather insignificant really."
But I learned that my pain did not stop until my arm was thoroughly dissected and the injury was fixed. And even after I finally stumbled upon someone who could fix the injury it took two years of therapy to make my arm useful again. It was a very long process. It was a very painful process. It was a very meaningful process. If I had not mentioned again to my new doctor that I was still in pain, I would still be injured to this day.
My advice to anyone who still hurts is to keep talking about it. You may be suffering from an emotional injury that even people with spiritual x-ray vision cannot diagnose. Mental exercises and physical activity may be of no use whatsoever. Maybe, like me, the only thing that will help you is a miracle from God leading you by the hand to someone who knows how to help. Don't accept people's judgments of you, they just might be wrong. And even if they are right, judgmentalism seldom serves anyone but the judge.
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