Physical therapy was not on my bucket list—you know, the list of things I want to do before I kick the bucket. But after three months of pain, I’ll take the prescription—three days a week, for four to five weeks. I didn’t know what to expect. It didn’t help when a friend jokingly told me “PT” stands for “pain and torture.” I had my doubts, too. How could PT make more room in my neck, where a herniated disc and bone spur take up too much space, resulting in inflammation, a pinched nerve and muscle spasms?
Three therapies had been prescribed: electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and traction. During electrical stimulation therapy, which is used to treat muscle pain and spasms, pads with electrodes are placed over my neck and left shoulder blade. This is my favorite one of the three. The moist heating pad beneath my spine, along with the current, which feels like electrical massage, is relaxing.
The ultrasound goes deeper into the muscle to treat inflammation.
Traction isn’t as bad as it sounds. I lay on a cushioned table, my neck in a padded, vise-like device, a strap around my forehead. For 15 minutes the machine gently pulls my head and stretches my neck.
My first PT session was mostly evaluation to check my range of motion and confirm that the herniated disc between the C6 and C7 vertebrae was the main source of my pain. The electrical stimulation therapy followed. The ultrasound machine wasn’t working, and my therapist didn’t want to do traction at my first session. That was fine with me. She did warn me, however, that even what little we did would make me sore.
She was right. The day after, I went to work hurting. I felt every bump in the winter washtub road during the 12-mile drive. By the time I got to school, I was holding back tears of pain. As I signed in, I wondered how I would survive until noon. I couldn’t take my prescription pain medicine, as it made me drowsy and I had to drive. I should have stayed home, I thought as I slowly made my way to my classroom.
But when I flipped the page of my daily desk calendar to the day’s Scripture reading, I had to smile: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is strongest when you are weak."
Isn't that just like God? To remind me He is there in my pain, working His will. Unlike Paul, I haven’t asked Him to take away this thorn in my flesh. Long ago I turned my life over to God. He’s in control. So when He allows pain, I know He has a purpose for it.
But just when I got to the place where I didn’t think I could go on, He reminded me of His presence and His provision.
I’d wondered how I would fulfill my calling with an ongoing health issue. But He reminded me that I don't need to be in top shape. I just need to be willing to do the work He has for me.
Dear God, thank You for Your grace. For when I am weak, through You I am strong. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read 2 Corinthians 12:8-10