“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pain.”
― C.S. Lewis
― C.S. Lewis
It all started with lower molar #18. I thought the root canal 1-1/2 years ago took care of my intermittent tooth pain. But the throbbing pulse came back every few months. Reluctant to spend more money and time on the issue, I popped an Ibuprofen/Tylenol cocktail for a few days and the pain went away. That is until last week when the pain refused to abate. Nervously, I scheduled an extraction appointment with a periodontist. Normally I have a high tolerance for pain. Born with scoliosis, I’ve had some level of back/hip/IT band pain my entire life. But going to the dentist always freaks me out.
Driving to the appointment, I prayed for courage, strength, and painkillers! A good friend came to lend their support and the dentist said everything went really well. He said I should feel substantially better by the next day. Stabbing pain woke me up several times during the night sending me running for the prescribed painkiller. Early afternoon Dr. Moore called and when I described increased pain and swelling, he told me to come in immediately. My stress level skyrocketed.
The first staff person asked me about my pain level, saying I probably had an infection or abscess and they might have to send me to the hospital! Dr. Moore looked at the extraction site and said everything looked good to him, no problems. His positive words feel on deaf ears. Between the unremitting throbbing pain, lack of sleep and food because I could barely open my mouth to eat, painkillers, and anxiety-provoking people, my body had hit its tolerance limit. My heart began beating like crazy, chills rippled down my body, I felt nauseous and lightheaded. Dr. Moore saw the panic set in and quickly raised the chair so my feet were higher than my head, calling for a nasal oxygen drip. It took almost two hours before I could safely stand up without my BP going crazy.
As a friend drove me home, I didn’t have any more info about my pain than I did that morning. The dentist didn’t see any cause for my level of pain, giving me no idea how long the pain would continue. At that point I desperately needed to hear God’s loving voice over the pain and panic.
Cognitively, we can acknowledge the Bible says God is always with us, that he loves us, and he is able to make everything work for good in our life. Experientially, it's extremely difficult to grasp when pain, anxiety, suffering, fear, grief, etc. are deafening. That’s when the Holy Spirit speaks in a way which amplifies God’s voice if we use our hearts instead of our minds to listen. Practice listening for God’s voice in times of joy and areas of conviction so you know how to tune into its frequency in times of pain and sorrow.
P.S. Returning to see the dentist tomorrow. The swelling’s starting to go down and pain still demands my attention every 5-6 hours, but I am on the mend. My experience was apparently not the norm, but I’m committed to learning from God how to work with my unique body instead of anxiously fighting against it.
Photo used by permission through Creative Commons at http://petesimon.tumblr.com/post/637721075/rip-bad-tooth