"I'd rather be in pain than be nauseous."
That's a statement I've made many times.
Well here's a new one. I'd rather be in pain than itchy! For the last six weeks I've had persistent pain that has had varying degrees of severity. At times early on it was pretty intense. Now it seems to come and go and I mostly feel it when I take deep breaths or bend the wrong way. After tests and more tests we all feel that this pain is a rare side affect from the Therasphere radiation treatment.
I can handle pain for some reason. I've had horses flip upside down on me and kept working. I've been kicked, punched, clobbered and more through many years of sports. I've broken bones, twisted ankles, and torn ligaments. The worst pain I ever experienced by far was pancreatitis due to a reaction from yet another medical test. That's another story though.
Every year during the Spring, Fall, and periodically through the winter the itchiness sets in. I'm not talking about a fleeting itch that a simple scratch can absolve. I'm talking about deep, burning, persistent, nerve-wracking itchiness. Sometimes it's all over. My thighs, belly, arms, legs, scalp and everywhere in between. Lately it's been more concentrated in my lower legs and feet.
This is concerning for two reasons.
One, it could be a symptom from the cancer called pruritis. The bile building up in my body causes me to itch, become jaundiced and more. It could just be the regular battle I do with extreme dry skin exacerbated by all my treatments. Either way, it's impossible to tell and so you always wonder.
Two, it's driving me nuts. I hate being itchy. It keeps me up at nights, wakes me up in the morning, distracts me through out the day, and overall is a constant nemesis. It is a battle I have to fight against a faceless enemy to chicken to show its face. Instead it torments me from afar. The more I scratch and dig the worse it gets. No amount of medicated lotion cures the problem. Don't even get me started on how insecure I am about being a cowboy with softer skin and smoother hands than a Johnson baby soap model!
Kendra asks me all the time if I'm afraid of the potential future effects of this cancer. If I'm in pain now, am I afraid of more intense pain in the future? I'm really not. I have always been able to handle pain, and there are things to help with that.
You know what I'm afraid of? Non-stop, intense, make-you-want-to-burn-your-own-skin-off itchiness. There's two reasons why.
1. I hate being itchy!
2. It makes me so grumpy that I could give Walter Matthau a run for his money! It tends to drive me nuts. I'm edgy, irritable, short, and frustrated. If this is just the beginning, I'm afraid of the test of my character that it will be. Do I have the seasoning to face this foe with the grace and charity that my family deserves? I sure hope so. I know I won't be able to do it out of my own strength.
I've really been thinking through the words "Strong" and "Courageous". This was the theme of the Christian camping conference I just came home from and I can't get it out of my head.
I'm going to expand more in a different post but basically I keep coming back to the thought, strength comes through surrender, courage comes through faith! It doesn't matter what it applies to, facing cancer or wanting to scratch my eyeballs out.
So here I go God.
I surrender my physical comfort to you. Should you in your infinite and perfect wisdom allow or place me into a place of temporary or permanent displeasure I will trust that you are God and that is where I'm supposed to be. God if I really love you and trust you then even though I'm afraid of the future and what it might mean, please give me the faith to obey you with my heart and my spirit. Please give me the grace to face the future no matter what it is in a way that honors and blesses you. I pray that those around me would be encouraged by my heart condition and not provoked, discouraged, or pulled away from you. God transform my character during this process. Teach me to manage my emotions and to not let my physical conditions affect my spiritual and emotional state of being. I pray You would remove this from me, but more than that I pray Your will be done. Thank you for all the blessing I do have. Thank you that twenty months later I'm really only complaining about being itchy. I don't deserve any of it, and yet you are a giver of good gifts. In Your name, Amen.