Facebook reminded me yesterday that it was one year ago this week that I went back to work after surgery on my neck. I had suffered for almost a year from nerve pain and it had gotten to the point all I could do was lay as still as possible in my bed…and even then I had pain. I was on a mix of painkillers and couldn’t even type. I had a foraminotomy on two levels, shaving bone away from the pinched nerves. This required an incision that runs from my hairline down my neck to my shoulders, cutting through neck and shoulder muscles. A year ago, I had healed to the point I could go back to work, but I was still weak and still healing.
This year, my husband came home from the hospital after his cancer surgery on that same day. This year, I’m able to lift weights with those same muscles that were cut. I’m in awe of how our bodies can heal and how resilient they are as I work through the weakness in those cut muscles and my husband recovers from his abdomen being cut open. He is already up and walking and back at home, but his incision is truly something to behold, running from his ribcage all the way down…and yet, his body is healing.
Our bodies were designed by our Creator to heal…even though my husband didn’t need it as part of his surgery, I recently learned that our bodies can even recreate a new stomach from our intestines if surgeons have to remove your stomach! Imagine that! Our bodies can sense that an organ is missing and work to recreate it.
All too often we view our bodies as if they are just poorly made. When I talk with some people, it’s as if their bodies are their enemy, always looking for ways to betray them, either by breaking down or by the open sabotage of cancer. Yet, even through my husband’s cancer journey and my own struggles with my spine, I’ve seen that our bodies are always working to heal. Sometimes, they just need more support and help, but it’s the body’s work to heal.
A year past my own surgery, I am stronger than I was before my nerves began giving me pain. I have consciously worked to strengthen all the muscles that support my spine, even if those exercises were really hard to do and didn’t really show results that were impressive. I intentionally did more work on the muscles that were cut as well, which was hard. At first, it was humbling how little I could lift or do before those muscles simply couldn’t do any more, but I kept at it…and my body responded.
Today, I am pain free, which is huge if you’ve ever had nerve or spinal pain.
The surgeon did a wonderful job, but even the best surgery can only do so much. My surgeon made it clear when I went to him last winter when I was still having pain and made it clear that the rest of my recovery was in my own hands. I had to do the work of healing. At a certain point, doctors and even prayer left off work that was mine to do.
That’s true so often in life. We have our part to play in healing, whether it’s our own bodies and minds or the world around us. If we remain passive players in our lives, we’ll remain weak and never reach our full potential that we are meant to reach and the world we live in will never become the place it is meant to be. We can only depend on others to do it for us so much before we reach the point where it’s our work to do and no one else can do it.
What is in your life that only you can uniquely do, whether it’s for yourself, your family, or your community? Where is your work to heal and become the next level that is planned for you?