Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Painful Start to 2008

I knew it would not last very long. When I had a procedure known as an endoscopic ultrasound guided celiac plexus block done at the University College Hospital in London at the end of September they told me that those who respond to this treatment usually get up to three months relief from chronic pancreatic pain. It was wonderful to be pain free for those weeks, and to come off all the pain relieving medications, but just before Christmas I began to feel unwell again, and now I am back in the most awful pain. One of the drugs prescribed for this kind of pancreatic pain is Fentanyl which was recently described in the press as being between eighty and a hundred times stronger than morphine. So I have been in touch with the consultant in London and they will be in touch with me when they can fit me in for a repeat procedure.

Pain has a way of focussing the mind in upon itself. It screams for attention like a frustrated toddler in a supermarket queue. It distracts you from anything creative, anything effective, anything else at all really. When that is combined with the stupefying effects of opiates then it can be a real battle to remain aware of the needs of others, and of what God is saying in and through it all. But it is important to do so. 'Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.' (Phil. 4:8). If we choose to give in to screaming toddlers they catch the habit and turn mothers into victims. So also with pain. We need to fight it and resist it in every way, from prayer to paracetemols. But then we need to let go of it and turn our hearts towards anything that is excellent or praiseworthy. When we do that, we really are 'more than conquerors'.

If you are in pain today - and there are many forms of pain - then I pray that you will find courage to bear it, faith to look beyond it, and hope to know that it is not in vain, and will not last for ever. And may you also know the healing touch of Him who came to bear our sorrows and infirmities, and who is touched by the feelings of our pain. Now He is worthy of praise!