Essays on EDS: How to Complain Well

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Here is what I’m thinking: If you are going to complain. Do it well. Do it right. Make it good…

Okay, now that I have your attention, here’s the background of what I’m thinking:

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the doctor’s office lately. Lots of check ups and appointments to squeeze in before our deductible starts over again on April 1, and lots of appointments that were held off last year due to pregnancy.

Here is my list of appointments for the last two months:

1. Urlogosit- recurring kidney stones- OBGYN says I should have these tested because they keep coming back
2. Rhuematologist- Check up for Ehlers-Danlos talk about all the crazy things that aren’t “normal” on me.
3. Cardiologist- Gotta have another Echocardiogram – grrr- pre-cautionary because EDS patients often develop MVP
4. Dermatologist- 4 Visits for 5 moles that were all crazy looking (and so far are fine) but have to come off with crazy big cuts & stitches
5. Optometrist- new contacts, same script – legally blind: -8.00 for anyone keeping track

No, I am not a hypochondriac. And honestly, in the grand scheme of things, these are not that startling.

But, when you are cramming all these appointments into an eight week time frame, it takes a toll.  And it really gets hard not to complain and feel a bit frustrated. I was reading something that talked about facing illnesses. It might have been C.S. Lewis, I honestly can not remember. (It’s such a gorgeous day outside that I’m trying to cram in my last 15 minutes of peace and quiet on the back deck. So I’m not going to go look for the book.) Anyhow, they were talking about one of the reasons that illness is so unsettling to us is because it’s a reminder that we are not perfect. Of course, in theory, we know this. But, in practice most of us do not. Even though I’ve battled all kinds of crazy pain over the last dozen years or so, it’s almost shocking every time a new flare up starts. I’m just trucking a long in my life and knocked off my feet (sometimes literally) for a few days. It’s very annoying. It’s not something a Type-A, go-getter, getter-done type person likes to face. Well, it’s not anything anyone likes to face. But, the psychological battle of constantly talking about something that is imperfect. That’s draining. It’s good for us because it teaches about grace and God and all that good stuff we learn from illness; but at the end of the day, it still stinks. It’s not fun.

So, yes it’s draining. It’s legitimate. My feelings about this are real. They aren’t completely out of whack. Yet, I’ve been more conscious lately of how I’m reacting to these flare ups and all this EDS stuff. My family and friends are kind enough to tell me that I’m not too whiney about it. But, I know that they probably tire of my random comments like this: “Seriously, I can not feel my left leg” or “My shoulder just popped out”.  Yet, trying to pretend I’m not broken physically, and a bit more than most people, is also very fake. And since I am catching myself everyday in my little acrylic nail metaphor- reaching for the glue and trying to press on those plastic shaped tips hoping y’all will think I have perfectly pretty nails, I’m trying to be real about where I am in my life. Not where I want to be. Not who I want you to think I am. But, where I am today. I can’t land on either position of being fake or being too whiny and be content. Further, I don’t want to be a clanging banging cymbal of noise about the pain level I have each day (which is usually at least an 8 out of 10 in some area of my body) but I don’t want to be walking around pretending I’m not in pain. Again, paradox. Seems to be my word for the year.

And since I am an advocate of admitting our problems and challenges in other areas of life, I better practice what I preach in this area. So, yep, I support admitting that I’m in pain. But, what’s the difference between admitting problems and down right whining and complaining. Doesn’t the Bible say to do everything without grumbling and complaining?  Isn’t it good to vent a little?

Yes. So, what do I do on the days when I’m really done. D.O.N.E. I’m tired of hurting. I’m tired of talking to doctors about what hurts and where. I’m tired of sitting in doctors offices with people 40 years older than me because my insides sort of act 40 years older. I feel like crying because I can’t do something for my 4 year old and my 4 month old is starting to get really heavy to carry around already. I get a bit tired of crazy looks from friends, coworkers and family when I say “I can’t do that”. I get tired of not having the energy of most of my other friends at my age. I get tired of asking my husband to carry the vacuum down the stairs for me. I get tired of loathing meetings and new restaurants because the chairs usually are so uncomfortable for me that I can barely focus. So, that’s when I’m complaining. Now is anyone else thinking: Hasn’t this girl met, Jesus? Doesn’t she know enough scripture to keep herself from whining? At least she doesn’t have cancer!? A little pain, I mean come on. Don’t her parents work with people who don’t even have clean water? Yes to all of that. And you are all right and you are all wrong. (Wink!)

But, here’s what Jesus showed me this week. He reminded me that there is almost an entire book and chapters sprinkled all over the Bible that about complaining. There are stories and stories about it. And God loved those little complainers! However, as my Bible teacher, Jolie, pointed out this week, there are different ways to complain.

So, here is what I’m committing to. Here is what I challenge anyone who is reading this to: (Hi, Mom, Aunt Betty and Joy! Thanks for reading!) Lets’ complain well and with a purpose! Seriously.

Look at Psalm 13 and Psalm 142.  Go read them. I’ll be right here. Go ahead. Click the links.

See what he did there. Poured it all out. I mean seriously, I bet you think he’s being dramatic. Well, he sort of is. But, I feel like that sometimes. I feel like every single tissue in my body is about to fall off my bones. I have pounded my hands on the steering wheel of my car in pain. I feel this dramatic. I feel like I’m going to die, just like David did. Sometimes, I feel like his face is hidden. I feel overwhelmed. I seriously know what it feels like to have no idea how to get through a day physically.

So, I love all this drama in both passages. Real. Raw. Bleeding on the fancy white tablecloth kind of emotion. That’s real! That’s not pretty!

But, then, look at this Psalm 13:5,6…. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.6 I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. He gets it all out, and then he focuses on God’s love, salvation, and praises God knowing that God will deal with us and take care of us in ways we can’t fathom.

Psalm 142 is more back and forth. Here is what he says about how he is feeling:  I pour out my complaint..I declare my troubles…my spirit is overwhelmed….No one cares for my soul…I am brought very low…my soul is in prison…but here is what he says in the middle of all of that: God knows my path and the way where I am going. He is my refuge. He is my portion in the land of the living. I will give thanks and know that you will deal bountifully with me.

So, if you are going to complain with me this year, let’s complain well. Let’s get it all out. Let’s take it to the only One who is going to get and really get it anyhow. Let’s let our friends and family off the hook. Let’s not stuff all that emotion back inside and pretend we aren’t hurting. Let’s admit the yuck, and then let’s be sure we pile our hearts and lives full of the Truth of Jesus Christ. Let’s remember our salvation. Let’s remember that God has this under control! And once we dump it all over the place, let’s thank him for being God.

Let’s complain well….

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