Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Asking for Pain

So I asked for pain. I know this sounds like lunacy, but hear my story.

One of the blessings of where God has planted me is being 20 minutes from a very nice lake. Another blessing is that my good friends and next-door neighbors have a boat and love company. An excellent combination, I’m sure you’ll agree. :-)

Earlier this summer, I was out on the boat with my friends and heard a discussion about them needing a new platform and ladder on the back of their boat. I remember this distinctly, as the ladder currently attached to the slatted, wooden platform has only one rung, and it can be quite a feat to get back into the boat after being in the water. I was looking forward to using the new ladder for an easier reentry. Who knew that I would become the decision-maker for my friends? [Enter sense of foreboding.]

Saturday, two weeks ago, I was out on the lake with the same friends, along with my best friend and her family. To join in the fun, I decided to embark on my inaugural voyage on a tube. If you’ve ever been, or even witnessed, tubing—a sport entailing hanging on for dear life to a rubber tube with handles which is attached to the boat by a very thin rope and moving at dozens of miles an hour—you probably understand that this is probably not the best sport to learn as a sedentary 34-year-old. But why let a little thing like common sense get in the way? [Foreboding builds.]

I snapped on my life jacket, and stepped off the back of the boat onto the wooden platform, right leg first. You may have wondered if gravity was in effect two weeks ago Saturday. I am ready to testify that it was. Other laws of science were also in effect. For example, wood that resides regularly in water becomes soft and, when force is applied, ceases to sustain weight. In other words, when I stepped onto the wooden slat, it broke in two, and my leg plunged down into the 3-inch gap left between the adjoining slats.

When a body is thrust into such a downward motion, all attached parts are affected. Thus, as my leg went down, my body fell off the boat and into the water. At this point, I suspect that angels were in attendance, for as I fell, I didn’t 1.) hit my head, 2.) break my foot, ankle, or leg, or 3.) rearrange the ligaments in my knee. All of these were legitimate options based on the manner in which I fell, perpendicular to my right leg. Also, because I had a life jacket on (something that wouldn’t have been true if I’d have been jumping into the lake to swim, as I was earlier in the summer), I didn’t drown. The position of my body was forcing my head back and into the water.

Here’s where a hero’s heart is evidence. My best friend’s brother didn’t make a sound or pause a moment. He just jumped into the water (sans life jacket) and began to hold me up as I attempted to pull my leg free. My best friend tagged the owner of the boat, and all of us began to try to figure a way out.

This was one of those moments where time becomes elastic and brief moments are vivid for every millisecond. I was probably trapped less than a minute, but wow, what a minute. Let me review the facts here: I am not a little person, and my substantial calf (of more than 3” in diameter) was wedged—by the force of my full body weight—into a space about 3” wide. Suddenly, my leg began to pull free, as if it were being pushed from below. I have no explanation for how I got loose.

To check my leg, I swam around for awhile while the guys removed the broken board. I knew instantly that my leg was fine. I had massive bruising, and serious knots in the leg, but nothing was rerouted to a different place in my body nor torn from its original location. I didn’t even reawaken an old knee injury (one that plagued me as recently as recently as June; see previous posts). Therefore I did what every sensible person would do: I climbed up on the tube and told them to take off.

Turns out that, if you position your body just right and respond just so to the pull of the boat, tubing can be much like riding a bucking bronco while being sprayed in the face with a fire hose. I lasted about 5 seconds, dismounting in what I like to think of as a graceful back roll. Two abrupt falls into the water were enough to awaken my asthma, and thus ended my day of adventure.

About four days following, the piece of post-modern artwork on my leg shifted, and serious bruising began to appear on my foot. This was quickly followed by the inability to recognize my right ankle, as it looked nothing like it had at any point previously. Swelling can do that to you. That night, I became really concerned. One of they symptoms of a blood clot (not an unlikely result of such a trauma) is swelling in the whole leg. It was after midnight, everyone was in bed, and my only medical option was the emergency room. I lay in bed, unsure of what to do. And so I prayed. Here’s what I asked: "God, if I need to go get some help before morning, give me pain." Severe pain is the other symptom of a blood clot. Flat on my back, with my leg high in the air, I waited.

I slept restlessly that night, but my pain never increased. In the morning, I made an appointment with my doctor, who x-rayed and ultra sound-ed my leg, and told me that I was break and blood clot free. I did, however, have to get off my leg, elevate it, and take an anti-inflammatory. I took that Friday and Saturday off, and spent the weekend with my leg propped in the air.

I have spent every evening since then with my leg propped in the air. I have also spent parts of days at work with my leg pointed toward the sky. It has made life a bit less doable, especially as my numbness has begun to wear off. Turns out, now my leg hurts!. For the first few days, I really felt almost nothing, now I feel pain in parts I didn’t know were present. However, when it really mattered that I feel pain if I needed immediate care, I remained relatively pain-free.
It’s strange how we can be motivated to ask for things that we would not usually desire. Such is the work of the Spirit in our lives. May my heart be ever more motivated to ask for what I really need, not the shortcuts I desire.

Sooooo… if you were wondering why I went AWOL, it was mostly because my leg was lonely and wanted lots of attention. And who am I to argue with my leg?


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