Today is the final day of my 2nd session (and last treatment for 2020) of alternative stem cell treatment on my burnt hand. This series focused on scar tissue and nerves… yikes! Yesterday a tendon and bundle of nerves was injected and manipulated… it released (they had fused to tissue in the wrong place during recovery) and actually moved about 0.2” allowing my hand to almost fully straighten… I would not have believed it had I not seen it. You can actually see the line on my finger above the affected area in the picture above. Breakthroughs such as this have occurred in each treatment. Praise God!

This 4+ year journey has been a gift and I’m grateful for always having believed that. I’ve felt each of your prayers, God’s prescience and held to his promise that he is with me. Early on I believe God placed on my heart a desire to share this journey and what I have and continue to learn. Pain with a Purpose is the name I choose to call the journey over 4 years ago. The idea is not that we look for or celebrate pain but that we recognize that our journey in and possibly through pain provides impactful decision points and that understanding God, our faith and our role can provide valuable insight and eternal benefit.

For example, now with over a month virtually pain free (the treatments and regeneration provide their own discomfort but strangely without any angst as I know they part of the healing) and no further need for narcotics, I find a fairly large “space” to fill physically, mentally, and emotionally. What was a daily process of planning, medicating, focusing and praying on how to cope each day (work, family time, friends, sleep) that required a great deal of effort is now gone. Accepting the gift of being pain free is both beautiful and complicated and frankly, that surprised me. Like a POW who has been rescued after years of capture and can only sleep on the floor once home, I find myself at times not embracing all of the blessing of my release from pain.

It is in these times (when I recognize this unique tension “coping with being pain free”) I understand that my journey is incomplete… and I kind of love that. This physical, mental, emotional void needs attention and I praise God that this season has also begun to restore my mind for a greater sense of understanding, reasoning and expression (as one of the side effects for me of long term opioid use was a degradation of my ability to read and write).

So the pain void… what to fill it with? How to realign my day, my routine, my life? How to get “off the floor” and sleep comfortably in a bed so to speak? Here’s my strategy:

1.) Pray – God’s in this, I should be as well. In my time of prayer if feel like we share … God’s promise for me and my heart for God. It’s a pretty good deal when you think about it.

2.) Deliberately, consciously and obnoxiously recognize and declare gratitude in everything possible. Do it enough and you can really get good it. I began this day 1 in the Burn Center ICU… it’s a place where your very likely much better off that those around you…the sites and sounds make that clear immediately. “Praise God” is my tell tale sign of Gratitude.

3.) Love. Yeah it feels a little “chicky” just typing it but there it is. God commands it, Jesus reaffirmed it. It’s the real deal. Pain gives us so many reasons to love yet it’s often the hardest time to do so. Coming out of pain provides a natural springboard to love but you have to recognize it and “take the bounce”.

4.) Expression- Talking and writing about this provides me with a way to distill and organize my ideas, thoughts and feelings. It also allows me to share which, as I said at the beginning of this post, God has put on my heart.

Not really a strategy but an overlay to this and my entire journey has been humor. I’m so grateful that God wired me this way and feel it’s been such a blessing during my suffering for both myself and those who loved and cared for me. I refer to it as a “life lubricant“ which is kind of weird and my girls would call “gross” but you get it.

That’s all I’ve got today. If you made it to here I’m impressed. It also means you’re likely not suffering the long term effects of opioid useage so that’s a plus.

If you’re in pain, the suffering is real but know that the choices are yours.

In it with you.

Praise God!