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The Trials of Aging

I’ve written from time to time about aging and how it’s affected me as I navigate this season of life. I gotta say,

It sucks

Recently, about 4 months ago, I experienced a back problem that had me in tears. My doctor sent me to PT, gave me some meds and basically said “Loose weight”. It’s the medical profession’s answer to everything anymore. She also said that as we age “these things tend to happen”.

Not what I wanted to hear

Fast forward to this week and I’m scheduled for something called a microdisectomy. Meaning, the middle of one of my vertebrae discs has exploded onto my sciatic nerve and they’re going to remove it so I can be free of this knife like, unending pain I’m living with.

My surgeon, who I’ve dubbed “Dr GQ” said I’ll do great, it’s straightforward, simple, minimally invasive and I go home the same day. I’ve had a few of these same day procedures (he never used the word surgery) and they’re relatively simple to recover from.

But I never imagined or wanted to recover from simple procedures, at ANY age!

When Bruce and I were engaged I was terrified of having a blood test before marriage. It was something required in most states to screen for venereal disease. The reasoning was that if caught before people procreate they could treat it so it didn’t affect their babies. The laws assumed that most people waited for sex until they were married. In Oregon, where we were married, the law changed in the summer prior to our wedding date and I was given a reprieve….it might have swayed me if it didn’t change, I was that scared.

Over the years I’ve had enough blood draws that I’m no longer afraid of them. What I never imagined were the number of “procedures” I’d experience! At times my body looks like a road map it has so many scars. I know, TMI…but you get my point.

And now we come to my spine, an area fraught with potential complications. I think we all know people who’ve had failed back procedures, who live in chronic pain. They organize their lives around it. Are living on medications to control it. They travel with special pillows, cushions and drugs so they can arrive at their destinations without crying.

I have new empathy for them

The bummer of all this is that if it weren’t for the physical breakdowns I’d be in love with my age. I love having my home to myself. Bruce and I are enjoying learning more about each other now that we’re together so much. We love our adult kids and their spouses and watching them navigate the milestones in their lives. We love being available to our church body. I love being here in Chicago where stuff is going on. I don’t even mind the inconveniences now that I have time and freedom to navigate them without babies or teens who have schedules and demands. Integrated living is wonderful, colorful, interesting and rich.

But my body doesn’t want to cooperate

The only fear I had about moving to Chicago was my body’s ability to survive it. Stairs, broken sidewalks, detached garage, busses and trains all require sure footing, something I’ve not had for a few years. Last year it was a knee, this year my back. Part of me is resigned to fixing one piece of anatomy a year for the next few years, in the hopes that after about 5 years I’ll be bionically new. I’ll be better than before, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound (of which we have a few). Bruce said that “Blue Cross is gonna LOVE me…”

NOT

I have a FB friend who posts a verse of the day. Sometimes I even read them. One particular, painful day I came across this one:

Isaiah 46:4 “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you”

I don’t like the “old age” portion though it was what caught my attention when I cruised my feed. I looked it up and read the prior verse, changing translations as I went just to see what others said. I found the New Living Translation as my favorite:

Isaiah 46:3-4  “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime — until your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. 

I’m trusting that verse. For years I’ve claimed that “I’ll take healing ANY way God wants to bring it to me” and I mean it. Looking back on all my procedures, each one added years and health to my life. God was always protecting and keeping me healthy. I’ve done my part by exercising and controlling my diet, in spite of my weight. And I trust that he is still controlling my health, recovery and ultimate physical wholeness.

In spite of my roadmap

Reese Howell, a missionary to Africa in the 30’s once said this about miraculous healing;

“God’s opportunity begins where man’s extremity ends”

He experienced tremendous miraculous healing instances all over the world. But it was at a time in medical science history when there were limited options. Today, man has so much more available to him via medicine, it takes much longer to reach “man’s extremity”. I don’t refuse the miraculous, but I also don’t require it. Instead, I trust that God is the one in control and he knows the perfect solution to my physical needs.

So November 16th I’ll surrender my body to the advances of medical science and allow Dr GQ to minimally invade my L5/S1 space and remove my extruded disc particles. I’ll walk shortly after I wake up, go home and recover and trust that God will carry, keep and rescue this aging back of mine.

He always has before, why should it change now?

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