Life as I knew it

by Catherine Mae Clifford
(Walker, LA)

Catherine Mae

Catherine Mae

Life in 2011 was amazing. The prison ministry I was involved in, filled my heart with joy and excitement. My cleaning business was at an all time high, my youngest son was getting married in March, my daughters and I were meeting together for mother daughters weekend in August. My son and his new wife would meet my husband and I in Tennessee for a week's vacation in October. We planned on hiking in the mountains and enjoying the outdoors of Tennessee.

Then, in March of 2011 as I was cleaning a home, I bent down and felt something move in my back. Believing it was just a pulled muscle, I continue on until the pain became more than I could bare. My doctor prescribed muscle relaxers. After a couple of test, she gave me the prescription and sent me on my way.

The drive to my son's wedding was ten hours. The pain was such we had to stop every hour so I could walk. Each move sent a searing hot pain throughout my body and standing straight would take at least ten minutes. The trip was more than I thought I could handle. That night after we reached out hotel, I cried out to God for help. Shortly after, the pain receded to a dull ache. Praise the Lord, it lasted until we were on our way home. Just a few days later the pain hit again and this time, I could barely walk. My daughter had to drive me to a different doctor and I was sent immediately to do an MRI. Two disc on L4 and L5 were beginning to slide down my backbone. The pain was so intense I bit my lip to stop from screaming. Immediately I was sent to an Orthopedic Clinic and was told this would most likely lead to surgery but they wanted to start with Cortisone shots. Two weeks later, in May 2011, I received my first set of Cortisone shots. I felt so much better. Within three days I was back working and functioning normally, Hope soared through my heart, God would completely heal me through the shots. Three months later, August 2011, the excruciating pain began again. I received my second set of shots one week later. Through all of this I continued to work in my cleaning business. The second shot only lasted two months. October 2011 before we went to Tennessee, I received the third and final set of shots. It lasted only one month. Yet it gave me the opportunity to take little hikes while in Tennessee. Through November and December I started therapy and would work, barely make it home to lay in bed. The decision for surgery was made and was told recovery would take approximately three months. December 14th I had surgery. The next day I was walking and able to go home. My doctor informed me I had more damage than he initially realized. Also because I am small framed, I have two or the four screws and four pins protruding out of my back. Nothing can be done with the screws and pin until at least 18 months after surgery. The protruding screws, keep me from lying on my back or stomach. My sides are the only position I can lay on.

It is now three months since surgery. At this time I have lost my business,that income, my ministry and my ability to actively get involved in any "normal" life. I am isolated not by choice and find myself closing up inside. Before surgery I had two of my grandchildren visit each Friday. I cannot lift them therefore, my days with them for now are over. Nothing over 10 lbs can I lift, and the orders of no BLT (bending, lifting or twisting) has been given. Almost all the things I loved to do and my independence is gone. The pain is still very intense and sleeping has become a problem. I cannot stay sitting, laying or standing for any length of time, therefore I have to continually change position. Now I realize that this is just the beginning, the end is not even close and who knows what life I will have once this is finished.

Just a week ago I began water therapy and was told this would take 12 to 18 months for complete recovery. I am a Christian and believe in Jesus and the fact that HE does still heal. But I also realize that it was God who gave us the grieving period. I refuse to believe that Jesus wants me to just shake this off, it's all going to be OK!

I know eventually life will take a turn and it will be right. Yet now with all of this surrounding me, I don't even know how to begin. Actually, I am not sure when I will be able to being again. My marriage has really never been great, honestly, I believe neither my husband nor I really understand what true love is all about. Yet now with this the intimate part of our marriage is also on hold.

My focus does not need to be on me and my fears, etc., but I cannot run away from this. It is happening, all of it to me. Where does a person go from here? Seems I cannot shake the depression and loneliness. It feels like there is a wall between me, God and people and I hate it. This is where I have to accept this as God's will for my life right now. It does feel like a part of me has died. How do you go forward from here? I have so many questions, yet no answers and I am not sure my husband or family realize how serious this is. My heart stays closed and I don't share with them the way I feel. I am still very much in the grieving process and realize this is something I have to just walk through. One step and one day at a time. Don't matter if people don't understand, God does and I know He cares. He does have a plan for me, I'm not sure what it is, but I know as long as I hold onto Him, I will make it to my destination. In the meantime thank you. Writing down what has been inside my heart is amazing. No one knows it except Jesus! I know this is not the physical loss of a person, but in a way it is a emotional lost of myself and everything that identified me as me. Through this transition, I know God is creating a new creature inside of me. Unfortunately all I see right now is a worm. I apparently am still in the cocoon--the butterfly transformation is not complete as of yet.
Again, thank you.
Catherine Mae

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