Monday, April 12, 2010

My Valley Week

After a lovely Easter weekend spent with family and friends, I was brought down the side of the ravine into the valley below faster than Bear Grylls on an episode of 'Man versus Wild'. And my valley experience has been pain, the physical pain of neuralgia which came out of nowhere.

It started on Monday - pain in the left side of my face close to my ear. I naturally assumed it was dental pain and as it was Easter Monday took some pain killers and prayed for Tuesday to come quickly. I was on the doorstep of the dentist at 9am and they fitted me in at 11am. However, my time in the dentists chair was short, the dentist could find no abscess, no gum problems or any 'dental evidence' for the pain. She said I should go to the GP as it could be an ear or sinus infection. As it takes three weeks to get in to see my own doctor I decided to try a clinic in town which will fit you in if you need to see a doctor without you being on their books. Thankfully, they had a spot for me. The doctor checked out my ears - they were fine and decided it was most likely a sinus infection and prescribed antibiotics though he was surprised that I had no respiratory symptoms - no cold, no blocked nose, no pain behind the eyes - just this awful nagging pain in the side of my face. I have suffered sinusitis in the past but never with this type of pain level and it usually follows a cold and affects my forehead. This was different.

The pain did not go away and for three nights I had very little sleep. I was taking paracetamol and ibuprofen but they were giving me short lived relief. At night the pain was severe, pillow hugging, pillow bashing, head clutching pain to accompany the aching in my jaw and neck. This was starting to concern my husband and when I awoke at 1am crying with an episode of all I describe as white hot, searing facial pain as if someone had stuck a knife into me, he said 'That is it we are going to the hospital.' That episode lasted about 10 minutes and had subsided by the time we were ready to leave.

The young doctor at the ER or A& E as we call it here was puzzled and perplexed by my symptoms. No vomiting, no dizziness - nothing to suggest a cause. He had a French accent and I think my attempt to give precise descriptions of the pain were lost in translation! He requested that I return the next day. I obliged and did not take any pain relief that morning which I was starting to regret by 11am, three hours into my wait. I had started to pace the floor by now clutching my face, holding onto my baby boy and I knew the nurse was thinking she obviously can't afford to go to the dentist!

At last I was in and a more experienced doctor did not take long to give me a diagnosis. Nerve pain possibly caused by a virus. He had very little advice for me except to time when I took my pain relief and to return immediately if I started vomiting or developed any other neurological symptoms. If I needed stronger pain relief I would have to consider giving up breastfeeding! No way!

And that was the week that was. I have not had another excruciating episode but 24/7 I have had a dull, unrelenting aching in the side of my face during the day which I am choosing to ignore. I'm distracting myself with activity at home - baking biscuits, making preserves, cuddling and feeding my baby, reading blogs and finally today writing a blog post. Thankfully I have not been incapacitated by this but I'm praying it will go away. I really do not like this, it is so out of character for me. I rarely get stressed or sick. Life's events such as being cut off by flood waters do not affect me greatly. I am used to floods now, I keep my pantry well stocked - I'm prepared but pain that arrives with no warning is quite a different matter.

The road to nowhere! The valley I live in often experiences floods. These waters cut us off last year for three days. My husband could not get home from work! That is our border collie in the flood waters. The folks in the little house had to be evacuated in the night when the waters rose further.

I like to be informed. I have read up on facial neuralgia. It is scary stuff, the pain that some people live with and the fear of pain makes for heart rending reading. I have only experienced this for a week and only had one really bad episode. People live with this condition for years, their lives are turned upside down. Some even take their own lives or consider this as the only way out of the pain. It is a place I do not want to go to, so I am seeking the Lord, praying for healing and have been prayed for at church and taking practical steps which I hope will eradicate the pain and discomfort. I'm taking a vitamin B12 supplement and a herbal tonic which contains elderberry and other herbs which are good for the nervous system. If you have suffered from facial neuralgia and know of natural cures which worked for you let me know.

I'm sharing this story of my week because well that was my week. Not my most pleasant week I have to say but sometimes we are taken down into the valley. Not every day is spent on the mountain top but down in the valley what does God provide? Still waters to walk beside, green pastures to lay down in. A loving, faithful God who walks with us and never abandons us.

During my stay in hospital following the birth of my son last December I was starting to feel quite lonely and a little depressed in my room. I wanted to be home with my newborn not stuck in the clinical surrounds of a hospital. I was so bored I had bought the newspaper, a tabloid which is usually filled with sensational gossip about the misdemeanours of sports stars and not much real news. Then a headline caught my eye 'Loving Father walks with us'. Did I have the right paper? It was the title of an article by the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen. It simply was the most succinct, beautiful description of who God is and what He has done for us. It was precisely just what I needed to hear at that moment in time. I sat on my bed and cried. God used the words of Peter Jensen to minister to me in that hospital room and I also prayed that this article would speak into the lives of people reading it who did not have a personal relationship with Jesus. I will try and find a link to this article but for now I will share the closing words of Archbishop Jensen (a born again believer) from the article which are particularly relevant for me this week. If you are experiencing a time in the valley below, I pray these words will also minister to you.

'One of the main things Jesus taught us was that we can call God Father and trust Him to walk with us through life. This does not mean we are spared pain and suffering. We still die, after all, but God is with us in the midst of pain and as we entrust ourselves to Him He will forgive us and bring us through safe to the end. Who is God? I understand so little about Him. But I trust Him and call him Father. That is enough.'


Anonymous said...

My grown son (35yrs) woke a month ago with the same thing! EXTREME PAIN, is all he could say. His mouth was frowning and his eye would not close, very frightening and painful.
The ER Doctor diagnosed the symptoms and pain as Bells Palsey (virus) and he looked like he had suffered a stroke, the doctor assured him it was not a stroke and the nerve will heal over time.
You are in my prayers.

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Ann that al sounds pretty awful.
I find unrelenting pain the hardest as it wears you down.
Very hard when you have little lively kids that do not understand too.
You will be in my prayers.

the happy sparrow said...

That is a beautiful quote Ann. I hope your pain goes away really soon...God really does walk us through every valley:)
Love Martine

Suzanne said...

Ann, I used to do neurological research, I have seen patients in that kind of pain. I am so sorry you have experienced it. I do believe that in the States Neurontin is helpful for nerve pain--at least that was my experience. But, it may interfere with breast feeding:-( I will pray your nerves are healed!

Camille said...

Dear Ann ~ So sorry to hear about your recent experience with this nerve pain!! How often we think life will just go on and on as it is now...but it does change and things come along to challenge us! Hang in there!! What a blessing to know the LORD is with you through it all!! Oh how difficult constant pain is!! How sweet it will be in Heaven ~ free from all the curse of sin! I will pray for you that you have a complete recovery. It sounds like you are going about things in a wise way with some tinctures and vitamins.


Fruitful Harvest said...

Oh Ann~

I pray for your healing....and that God gives you the strength to rest and leave the house work for later!
I know how challengeing it is to be in pain and have to nurse and take care of a small baby!

What beautiful Pictures~

Warm Prayers,

Drucilla's Stitches said...

Dear Ann,
My heart goes out to you my friend! I will certainly be praying for you! I enjoy your blog!

Chookie said...

I'll pray for you too. And Peter is my Archbishop -- we are blessed to have him in that role. "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!"

Farming On Faith said...

Oh Ann~
I am so sorry. I hope you are feeling better now. I have been so busy ~I am just now getting caught up on my blog reading. Hope you have a wonderful evening.

Renata said...

I'm so sorry you had to deal with this - I hope you have recovered now.
Thanks for sharing those closing words - I have found them so true in my life.
God bless you sweet friend
Renata :)


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