Someone to Watch Over Me

Someone to Watch Over Me

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Back Pain!

Someone to Watch Over Me

“Back surgery is definitely out of the question,” I indignantly informed my orthopedic surgeon after his examination in 2003. I painfully informed him of my decision as I was bent at a ridiculous 90-degree angle. Realizing my back was in a preposterous predicament for negotiation, I still demanded other options. After all, I had worked in the health and fitness field for 20 years and my experience as a Health and Fitness Director had exposed me to many serious back injuries. Not one person I knew had come through back surgery better off than before they succumbed to the scalpel.

I did, however, know several people who experienced constant back pain ever since their surgery, including my dad and brother. No sir — I was not ready to “hang up my athletic sneakers” for an extremely painful sedentary life in a rocking chair. I may have needed someone to watch over me, but I was not convinced it would be an orthopedic surgeon.

“I want to know my other options,” I entreated the surgeon.

“Your only other option…” the expert said in a non negotiating tone, “is a life of agonizing pain bound to a wheelchair.”

Now he had my full attention. I timidly inquired, “When do you think I should have surgery if I decide on that option?” I was really hoping to put off surgery indefinitely on the outside chance my back would heal itself.

“I am leaving the country in two weeks to visit my family in Ireland. I will be gone a month. I don’t think you will be able to tolerate the agonizing pain and helplessness you are experiencing for that long unless we hospitalize you and administer high doses of morphine. Let’s try to work your surgery into my schedule before I leave.”

“What? That’s within two weeks!” I was horrified and shocked. I hobbled out of the examination room like a zombie, and limped toward the receptionist’s desk. Even though I had been told by my referring physician that orthopedic surgeons needed to be booked months in advance, this caring surgeon was willing to squeeze me in before his vacation. “Someone must be watching over you or your timing must be incredible,” the receptionist cheerfully offered. “Just this morning, a patient postponed his surgery because of a respiratory infection. You could have that surgery appointment in two days.”

“Two days?” Even though my back was in agonizing pain, I wasn’t emotionally ready for this. I went to the doctor that morning for a consultation and I left with an appointment for surgery! It was surreal.

But sometimes, there is a bigger plan than we can fathom. Sometimes, what seems like a horrible answer to a dilemma can become the best solution to our difficulties. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not into your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” And now, because of my personal experience I can disclose — “and he can make your back straight, too.”

It has been almost ten years since that emotionally draining day. Even though the doctor remarked that it was one of the worst cases of a herniated disk that he had seen in his 25 years of surgery, my back has been pain-free ever since. I owe it to more than being in the capable hands of my skilled Irish surgeon. I walk with a spring in my step and an assurance that someone was indeed watching over me.

~ BJ Jensen ~

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