8.29.2012

Behind the Happy Face

I don't have any pretty pictures today or anything like that.  Instead, I feel the need to share something that's been on my heart a lot lately.  

Late one night a few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend on the phone.  In the midst of the conversation we were talking through different trials we were both facing and I began to tell her about one of mine.  I don't recall her exact words but it was something to the effect of, "Wow!  I never would have known anything were ever wrong...from reading your blog it always sounds like everything was going perfectly."

Her statement really made me do some thinking.  While I always try to have a positive attitude despite the circumstances, I know there is a fine line to walk in being "real" and "just putting on a happy face." (I hope I'm making sense!)  But in reflecting on what she said and reviewing a lot of what I write here, I've come to the conclusion that perhaps I'm not letting you know the real "me."  Looking through a long list of over 500 posts, it's obvious I like writing about happy things, and steer away from what makes me uncomfortable.  

Why?  I'll just say it...I'm afraid of what you'll think of me.  Do we not ALL struggle with this?  And is this not the #1 we don't let people see who we really are?   

Well, here we go, I'm going to share something that is very personal to me...it's a condition that seems so "abnormal" to me, like I'm such a different person now. 

You see, I used to be a super athletic gal that played every sport I could, and I LOVED it.  Volleyball, basketball, softball, cheerleading...those were all things I enjoyed for years.  After I got married and my husband was a youth pastor, I didn't shy away from all the crazy games and sports with  the teenagers. In fact, they all wanted me on their team because I could run faster than most of the guys! =P

Then three years ago, after Levi was born, I began to have severe pain in my hip.  I would have good days and then bad days...then it became mostly bad.  Sometimes I would bend over to do something and would get stuck in the position.  Other times lowering or lifting Levi into the crib was excruciating.  If I would weed in the garden, the next day I could barely walk.  It was horrible. 

But one day, it began to get better and I had so many more good days than bad.  I could do normal things again like mopping, scrubbing the bath tub without fearing my mobility the next day.  All through my pregnancy with Lucy I felt great and even though it hurt at times, it was mostly okay.  

Well, after she was born in November, really within days after her birth, the symptoms all reappeared. As the weeks went on, the pain got worse and my ability to function began to decrease.  Even when Lucy was a mere 7lb., bending to put her the bassinet would be so painful that I wanted to scream.  Even loading or unloading the dishwasher were things I was no longer able to do. 

In February we went to a doctor and finally had some answers.  Here's what the x-rays show:

1. The base of my spine never fused and instead of sitting in my hips bones nice and straight and firm, it slides off to the side and causes my whole body to be unstable. 
2.  My hips are waaay out of level
3.  One of the discs in my lower back is deteriorating.
4.  I have multiple bone spurs up and down my spine (little pieces of bone poking me like a splinter)
5.  My sacroiliac joint has zero cartilage left and the bones are rubbing together causing a large bone spur
6.  Last, but not least, I have arthritis in my hip.

I honestly couldn't believe it...I felt like, "What?!  Arthritis?? I'm only 28 years old?!  But I love to play sports! And I have four kids to chase!?"   

I will be honest and tell you that this has been a really difficult thing for me to accept.  From day to day I never know how I will feel.  Some days I get up and feel like I could run a marathon (okay, maybe not that good, lol!), and then other days I wake up and just getting out of bed about moves me to tears. 

None of these problems will ever go away, although with proper care hopefully we can prevent them from getting worse. 

I have battled discouragement big time because of this.  And this may sound shallow, but I hate it that I haven't been able to shed the pregnancy pounds yet.  While I only have about 5 more to go, it's taken me 9 months to make it this far!  When I exercise, I never know what the repercussions will be.  I could run on the elliptical and be okay the next day, or I could have trouble walking and taking care of my children.  I just never know. {sigh}

Several times while writing this post I have wanted to just delete it all.  But I know I shouldn't.  We all struggle with things, whether it's physical, emotional, or even spiritual that we just don't want anybody to know about.  It's just seems too personal, yet there's such a relief when we let it out and realize, "Hey, she deals with problems everyday, just like me!"  If we never tell others, we can never "bear one another's burdens" and pray for each other.  In a way it is selfish because often I don't allow others to obey that Bible command. 

So now you know my secret.  I have arthritis and live in chronic pain.

What's "behind your happy face?" What challenges do you face physically? Or even emotionally? How can I pray for you, friends?


29 comments:

  1. Wow, Laine! I never would have guessed that! I know you "outside" the blogworld and know that {even in high school} you were/are always happy. Even through circumstances in high school that I didn't know about until afterward, we all never knew what kind of trials you were going through! You were/are an example to me {and others I'm sure} every day, even though sometimes we didn't see that at the time. Have you been to a chiropractor? He might be able to help with the alignment of your hips! I hope you are able to get some relief. I've had back/hip pain off and on for years, to the point of not being able to get out of bed, but never for long periods of time. Keep your positive attitude, keep trusting God, keep praying :) Thanks for being honest today!

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    1. You're so sweet Cindy, thank you for your kindness! I have been to a chiropractor and that did help a little, but the process was very long and getting quite expensive. I haven't been able to go for a while, but hopefully I can begin visits again soon.

      I appreciate the encouragement so much, thank you again!

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  2. Laine, first off, I have to say that I am so proud of you and what you have said today. Thank you for being sacrificial in sharing your struggles. You are an amazing child of God:)I, too, have known you since high school, and always remember your smiling face. I'm sorry to hear of your physical struggles, but am so glad that you have such a fantastic support system thru your hubby. My husband, Jed, struggles with arthritis in his left ankle, and the next day after mowing the lawn, he struggles with walking. Because he has flat feet his hips are misaligned. Something that has helped him quite a bit is orthotics. They are not cheap, and it has taken us using several different kinds to find the right ones, but we finally did find them, and when he uses them it helps greatly! Let me know if you would like more info on them, because I can get it to you. As for struggles for me, physically, I struggle with kidney stones. As a matter of fact, I just got back today from having a CT scan, and was told that I am to have surgery next Tuesday to remove a stone that is 11-12mm in size, and is causing my left kidney to be 2-3x the size it should be. Something that I have done in other situations in my life is ask the Lord for a verse to help me thru whatever situation was going on. He has always been faithful in doing so...when my daughter died six years ago, He gave me Psalms 16:11, "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." I had to by faith trust that God's Word is true..even though I was feeling very differently at the time. I was just having a conversation with my best friend about this very thing...believing the truth over what I feel. I hope that I've been a little bit of an encouragement to you..and I will pray for you, too!!
    Amanda

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    1. Amanda,

      Thank you for your sweet words, they were encouraging! And sorry to hear about your kidney stones, I hope your surgery goes well! That is something I've never experienced but have heard it is so painful.

      I have heard of using orthotics to help with hip alignment and inserts in shoes and that is something that they've told me may help in the future.

      I am so thankful for the promises in God's Word and the grace He gives on a daily basis. Don't know what I would do without Him!

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  3. Will better be able to pray for you now. Thank you for sharing that burden and letting God use your great attitude about it to challenge me!

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    1. Thanks Molly, I appreciate the prayers!

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  4. So sorry to hear that you are dealing with this. Thanks for sharing some of your self with us all though... helps us get to know you. Hope you are able to find some help and relief!

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  5. oh, Laine... had no idea you dealt with this. Thank you for having a smiling face and not complaining about it regardless. Hoping and praying that you can find some kind of relief from it.

    Have you tried any of the natural drink type things that are supposed to help with arthritis? I have known many people that have tried those and found relief.

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    1. Thanks, Christina! I have not tried anything like that, although things like cherries and pineapple seem to help me. And using an ice pack! I had been going to a chiropractor for a while, but it just gets so expensive so quickly and the process is really long. =( Hopefully soon though I'll be able to go and stick with it.

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  6. thank you for your honesty! transparency is a good thing. appreciate your positiveness and no complaining....

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  7. Thank you for your honesty. It helps others to keep it real. I've been hiding behind a happy face, but inwardly desiring another child after trying over a year. It feels better just writing the struggle and being transparent. Praying for you!

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  8. Wow! When I was half done reading, I thought, "Oh, she just needs to go to a chiropractor; I had the same thing both times when I was pregnant." I did, even in my first trimester and so have friends of mine. After the baby, it would start to go away (maybe including a trip to the chiropractor). I had no clue it could be that serious!
    Thanks for sharing. I do enjoy your happy posts, but this definately helps me realize that no one's life is all roses! I feel for you!

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  9. Wow! When I was half done reading, I thought, "Oh, she just needs to go to a chiropractor; I had the same thing both times when I was pregnant." I did, even in my first trimester and so have friends of mine. After the baby, it would start to go away (maybe including a trip to the chiropractor). I had no clue it could be that serious!
    Thanks for sharing. I do enjoy your happy posts, but this definately helps me realize that no one's life is all roses! I feel for you!

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  10. Wow! When I was half done reading, I thought, "Oh, she just needs to go to a chiropractor; I had the same thing both times when I was pregnant." I did, even in my first trimester and so have friends of mine. After the baby, it would start to go away (maybe including a trip to the chiropractor). I had no clue it could be that serious!
    Thanks for sharing. I do enjoy your happy posts, but this definately helps me realize that no one's life is all roses! I feel for you!

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  11. Laine,

    I know that must have been a very difficult post to write, so thank you for having the strength to share. I am so sorry that you are having to go through this, I truly can't imagine the pain that you endure some days. I have Lupus so I know that feeling oh so well of putting on a happy face and trudging through the day! I often miss the good old skinny, full of energy, no pain days that I enjoyed just a few years ago! You will be in my prayers!

    Take care,

    Trish

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  12. Laine--appreciate your honesty in sharing this! It's always a fine line as to know how much to share of what, but I thought you did it perfectly: sharing the truth, bearing your heart, but not complaining over it. I know all about feelings of discouragement--that is a HUGE struggle I face, which is why I love the Psalms and how David bore his heart to the Lord in the midst of pain and discouragement he often faced.

    Praying for much relief from the continued pain!

    ((Hugs), Rachel

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  13. ((Hugs)) to you! I can't imagine having to hear a diagnosis like this. Thank you for your honesty and for the happy face...I appreciate both!

    Have you tried chiropractic care at all? Certainly a chiropractor can not heal everything, but he may be able to help your hips and even bone spurs. Just a thought!

    Thank you for being you!

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  14. Laine, Thank you for an honest, hard to write post. I have experienced from some Christians that if I prayed more or had more faith my physical problems would be resolved. I hope you haven't and won't encounter that. I had arthritis in my neck and lumbar region at age 23. The SI joint pain is so hard to deal with, and it's not something surgically repairable like knees and hips are. You're too young for those, but it's an option when you're older. None of my chronic pain sources are operable (I have fibromyalgia, too), not going to list all my ailments. Just as someone else mentioned asking God for a verse, He has reminded me that He chooses to heal or not to heal according to His perfect wisdom. He didn't heal Paul, he was certainly a man of faith. You, in your blog, in real life (I was a youth ministry volunteer until I couldn't physically do it anymore), there is something(s) someone(s) will learn from your predicament. Trust me, BTDT, I'm 57 so there have been a lot more years experience for me. I have mush brain for memory, a common thing with FM, but I'll pray as I remember.
    Your sister in Christ, Janet

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  15. You are certainly in my prayers. I know full well of the the "burdens" behind the happy face and the writing of difficult posts. Thanks for reminding us all that while life has its trials, our friends that God places in our lives can make the burdens oh so lighter. I'll pray that you have many good days ahead and discover relief from this condition.

    Heather

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  16. I am sorry to hear about the pain you are in. I will pray for you to heal. And if you ever need to vent in your posts it will never seem like you are complaining or being negative. Your words and thoughts are so kind in your blog, no one will think any less of you. You are too good of a person. Hang in there. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Praying for you!!! I love that you say you "battle discouragement"...key word being battle! That's the right attitude...and I'm sure you know that God will use your battle for His glory!!! Your post is an encouragement to me as I have been battling severe antepartum depression, but have yet to blog about it for all of my fears! Thank you for sharing the reminder that we are to share one anothers burdens!!!! Praying you have more good days than bad as you navigate raising your precious family!

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  18. There is nothing wrong with sharing some of our problems. I think the lifestyle of a Baptist is one that you don't ever want anyone to know you have a problem in your life--it's a smile on your face as though everything is going fantastic, when in reality, we are human and we have problems, b/c God has not made us perfect. God gives us problems to mold us more like Him, as well as, maybe help others through maybe the same problem or encourage them somehow, and also to make us more dependant on Him, the One Who designated us to have a problem. When we walk around all-smiles, we are being hypocrital too. Now there is a difference between complaining about our problems and sharing a problem, but we also need to be real with ourselves and people around us, that sometimes, we are carrying burdens. Besides, it also helps with knowing how to pray for people--not gossip about them, but pray for them!

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  19. Well girlie,
    Again His Word is proven True..."His strength is made perfect in our weakness." I do so enjoy your blog and keeping track of you,Steven and your beautiful family. Your post are always encouraging and so helpful and I love and learn lots of new things by reading it. I am doing a Bible study with the Ladies here at my church and just last night we were discussing 2Cor.1:3,4 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." I have to say that I believe this post of yours was probably my favorite so far. You have gone through so very much and have truly shared in the fellowship of HIS sufferings... and, this post, makes all your other post, such a greater blessing!Seeing how you have and are Blooming where God has planted you and have accepted and given your all to them as "Your new assignment from HIM" is beautiful and motivating. You and your family remain in my prayers and this post gives me more specific thing(s)to pray for on behalf of your sweet family.
    Melodie Wimberly

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  20. What a great post my friend. Thanks for "just keepin it real" as my husband says :). This post helps all of us who read it to appreciate you even more than we already do (which is nigh impossible!). I am blessed to be called your friend. Thanks for sharing.

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  21. Guess I should have said that last comment was from RD, said un-named friend in your original post. That was my first-ever internet blog comment post, so you shouldn't be surprised I messed it up. But don't tell Steven or he will say he's not surprised. HA!! Love you friend!

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  22. First of all, thank you for sharing. Being a missionary, I definitely understand not wanting to be a rain cloud. There are always things I can complain about on the mission field, right!? And everyone would understand, right?! That doesn't mean I always need to complain but sharing my heart is different. All of us go through trials and testings and the lessons learned through these times can be a help to others if we just share them. It also helps everyone see that they are not alone in the boat! Also, as in this case, it helps US know how to better pray for YOU! So, thank you again!

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  23. Life is never easy, but knowing the Lord allows you to have a happy face in spite of the problems that you encounter. I know I surely would crumble if I didn't know that He is with me every step of the way, He loves me, and He wants what is best for me. As far as sharing - do not be ashamed. The Bible tells us to bear one another's burdens. Now we know better how to pray for you. It is not weakness to need the prayers and support of those who love you.
    Not long ago, I was talking with a dear friend who is a cancer survivor. When I broached the subject of her cancer and the resulting surgery and treatment, she said, with a genuine smile, "It was the best thing that ever happened to me!"
    I was somewhat surprised at her response, but she went on to explain how God had used it in her life. God can use the difficult circumstances to reveal His strength, His joy, and His peace in the hearts and lives of those who trust Him.
    Thank you for this poignant reminder, and be assured that you will continue to be in my prayers. Love you!

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