When I was 16 I was in a car accident.
The driver of the car took a corner too fast, and the 1990-something Ford Escort we were in hit some gravel and flipped end-to-end several times. Both the driver and I walked away from the crash, but I’ve had neck issues for the last 14 years.
Around 18 or so I started getting treatment for my neck. Thousands of dollars, too many doctors, and tons of test later I reached the end of medical treatment. The neurologist’s recommendations were: wear tighter clothing, keep mobile, and have an MRI every year.
When I say neck issues, I mean I am in constant pain nearly every single day of my life (about a 4 out of 10). I have disc degeneration, bone spurs, and a syrinx. I can do most things, but I’ll never ride a roller coaster again. Here’s a picture of what a syrinx looks like. This one isn’t mine, but it’ll work. It’s that little white sliver.
At the start of this year, I hadn’t had that MRI for 10 years. My pain was also closer to a five or six most days.
I hadn’t gotten an MRI or seen a neurologist because I was terrified of what the results would be. I was scared of what the doctor would say. “You’re syrinx has gotten worse, you’re slowly dying.”
I think I was also terrified of how my now ex-husband would respond to the results. Would he leave me, be mad about the expense, or act out against me with retribution
This year my husband I made New Year’s resolutions for each other. One of Del’s resolutions for me was to get treatment for my neck.
I started seeing a chiropractor. I’ve started getting massages. And finally – I got that MRI.
Two days ago I saw the neurologist to go over my MRI results.
Driving to the neurologist with Del I was terrified.
Sitting in the waiting room I was preparing myself for whatever the doctor might say.
Eventually, the doctor came in. He looked at my MRI, did a few office tests, and then told me his opinion. He said, “Well, I can see why you’re in pain. You have issues X, Y and Z. But you can walk and you seem mobile. I’ve seen a lot worse, so I don’t think you keep seeing me regularly.”
To manage my pain he recommended I get physical therapy. To make sure I don’t get worse, he recommended I get an MRI once a year and check up with him.
After Del and I left, we got to the car and cried.
Out of fear I waited 10 years to hear that I was fine. I am okay. Everything is ok.
This experience has got me thinking about a three things over the last few days: scale, fear and readiness.
Compared to most 30-year olds, my neck is in rough shape. Compared to many folks that have been in a car accident, I’m doing ok. Compared to most people the neurologist I met with sees, I’m doing great. How many times do we forget the scale, and how it shifts based on our perspective?
Out of fear, I waited ten years to get my neck checked out. After waiting so long I was terrified of how much worse my neck had gotten, and if I’d waited too long to get it checked out. I sat in fear for a decade because I was terrified of the outcome. What else have I wanted so long on, just to find out that everything would be ok? What else am I not fixing or working on today that I could be?
Have you ever listened to someone complain about something and thought to yourself, “I know your problem, and here’s what you can do to fix it”? Have you ever told someone exactly what their problem was and how they could fix it, only to have the person shut down or do the exact opposite of what they should do? Everyone has had that experience. But no one can fix something until they’re ready to face their problem. There is no amount of pushing, coercion, or complaining that can get someone to change something they don’t want to change.
The thing is – we have all been that person to someone. To someone, I am that lady that always does this thing, and it’d be great if I just fixed it.
I could have seen a doctor a long time ago, and maybe I’d be better now today. But if I’m honest with myself, I know I would not have been ready. I was not at a place in my life where I felt safe to face the issue in front of me.
This experience has taught me about life.
Life is this miraculous thing. And life is facing one problem after the other. One day, everything is fine – and the next day everything feels like its falling apart.
When those moments come, where everything feels like its falling apart – that is where we find Jesus.
Sometimes he comes in food or water. Sometimes he comes in friends and family. But sometimes he comes from a doctor reading test results. No matter how he comes, he always says the same thing… “I can see why you’re in pain. This terrible thing has happened. But you know what? You’re going to be ok.”