Posts Tagged ‘pain’

A Tricky Tooth

Photo credit: Peter Skadberg

Photo credit: Peter Skadberg

I’d had enough of tooth pain. For 15 years, I’d suffered from headaches due to the pressure from wisdom teeth that didn’t have room to erupt.

In April, I went in and had one of my top wisdom teeth pulled. It was a breeze. I was in and out of the office in 15 min. “Oh, it’s out?” I asked in surprise when the tooth was presented to me between the tips of needle-nose pliers. There was so little pain during the recovery that I didn’t even need to take pain medication.

Why had I waited so long? It was heavenly to have that miserable tooth gone.

On Thursday I went in to have another wisdom tooth pulled, this one on the bottom. It was also causing me some headaches and jaw pain.

I was cheerful going in, but the ordeal soon turned nightmarish. The tooth was impacted and the roots wound around my jaw bone. The dentist had to cut through bone at least three times. The pressure was so profound as she yanked and pulled that I was worried my jaw was going to break.

Time dragged on, and more than once my dentist sounded panicked that she wasn’t going to be able to remove the tooth. A significant amount of blood was making it difficult to see. I was worried that I was going to end up at the hospital under a general anesthetic before this was over.

Piece by piece, my tooth was coming out and was carelessly tossed onto the tray. When the last big piece was retrieved, the dentist cheered and relief flooded my body.

“There’s one more piece of root left in there, but I think it would do more harm than good to try and remove it.”

Fine, fine, I thought. Just sew me up and let me out of this chair.

An hour-and-a-half after I blissfully waltzed into the office, I stumbled back out. $430 dollars to be tortured? Hardly seems like a good deal, but I quickly paid.

“How’d it go?” Kevin asked.

My mouth opened and closed as I tried to answer, but I finally just shook my head. Tears were too close to the surface to try and answer.


It’s Saturday, and I was able to eat some soft food again after 2 days of a liquid diet. The swelling has subsided in my jaw, and my children no longer startle every time they look up from their schoolbooks and glimpse my distorted face.

Health, sweet, sweet health. I often fail to enjoy it and be grateful for my health until I lose it for a time. The pain of the past few days makes me think of those who deal with chronic pain every day of their lives. My heart goes out to them!

Another thing I’m thankful for is anesthetic. What was dental work like to endure before pain relief? I shudder at the thought.

I find that each day brings opportunity for thanksgiving. I’m not thankful for the terrible experience of having my wisdom tooth removed, but I am thankful for God’s goodness through it.

I’m also thankful that one of my wisdom teeth never grew in. (My mom also only ever had three wisdom teeth.) And the last wisdom tooth? . . . It’s fine. Really. 😉

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Photo credit: Eastop

Photo credit: Eastop

I know that you don’t often see the words obedience and exciting in the same sentence. Many would assume that a life devoted to serving God would be terribly dull. But I’m convinced that there is no greater adventure.

Like a faithful knight in times of old, when we surrender our will to the King of kings, we enter a life of purpose. Thoughts, words, deeds—all become significant. Suddenly, every challenge is a stepping stone to greater faith and usefulness.

Learning to see challenges—even pain—as God’s way of stretching me and making me grow, has changed my life. I used to run from discomfort until fear consumed me, but now I see a world of opportunity in my trials. If I’m not facing opposition or experiencing discomfort then I’m not growing or meeting my God-given potential.

It’s purpose that turns difficulties into adventures. Think of any great adventure story. If you took out the purpose—conquering a mountain, discovering new lands, saving the world—all you would have left is the pain. But when the purpose is great enough, then no trial is too difficult.

What is our purpose? To shine like lights in the dark universe. We are to show God to the world around us, to our children, spouses, parents, bosses, colleagues, even enemies. We are to use our gifts to bless others. We are to make the most of our time here.

What we do in this lifetime counts for all eternity…the ultimate adventure.



Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.


~Philippians 2:12-15

Photo credit: Marie

Photo credit: Marie

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How Long?

This past week has been a time of hardship for me and at several points I wondered how long the trial would continue. Just over a week ago I started coming down with yet another cold. A deep cough quickly settled into my chest and then, not one night, but seven nights of terrible sleep followed.

Pregnancy isn’t known as a time of great sleep, (in fact I’ve heard it suggested as a time to get used to lack of sleep before the baby arrives.) But never in all of my pregnancies have I faced a period of such sleep deprivation. Back and hip pain made it difficult to get to sleep and I rarely slept for more than 45 minutes at a time. One night I felt near to panicking. It was early morning and I had only slept for two 45 minute stretches. I finally fell asleep sitting on the couch, and was relieved to get another hour of sleep before facing the day.

Lack of sleep was making it impossible for my body to recover from the cold and the cough was becoming very painful. I also felt on the verge of hallucinating one day due to the sleep deprivation. I was absolutely dangerous in the grocery store, nearly running people down and walking into things. I was so easily startled that I nearly screamed every time anyone walked past me! The scary thing was is that I didn’t even feel tired anymore and going to bed and trying to sleep was becoming frightening.

I try to avoid medication of any kind during pregnancy, but I knew that sleep was most important to my baby and I at this point. I knew that Acetaminophen (Tylenol) was considered the safest pain medication during pregnancy, but it did very little to combat the pain. I researched Ibuprofen (Advil) and found out that it can put the baby at risk for heart abnormalities if taken during the third trimester, so that was obviously out of the question!

I was reminded of the message that I heard last Sunday from the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was facing his own trials as he looked around and saw the violence and injustice around him. He asked God two things, “Why?” and “How long?”

It is comforting to read in the Bible that a prophet asked questions similar to the ones that we are tempted to ask when facing difficulties. The truth is, it’s alright to ask the hard questions of God. God doesn’t want us to grin and pretend that everything is just dandy. We’re not supposed to be fake and there are going to be times where we struggle with why God has allowed us to suffer. Ultimately though, God is on His throne and He may or may not reveal to me why I must face this trial or indeed how long I might have to endure it. What I do know is that: the trial will never be more than I can bear (1 Cor. 10:13), that our struggles have a purpose and that pain is not wasted in our lives (Rom. 8:28), and that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

I have had these words tumbling about in my brain for days now, but I didn’t have the energy to put  them into writing, nor the ability to write in a way that would make any sense. Thankfully, I had a good night’s sleep and almost no pain last night, and I think I might also be recovering from the cold. I find myself realizing how very blessed I am. I know there are so many people out there who face chronic pain and disease. Health is not something that I want to take for granted, but I also want to remember that pain and trial also have their place in our lives and that God can teach us lessons through our times of suffering that we might otherwise not have ears to hear.

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