Doctors could do nothing about the pain in her leg, but what would the Great Physician say?
- Posted on May 5, 2014
I couldn’t sleep. Again. Negative thoughts filled my head. Again. The pain, the cold.... No cure. No relief. There’s nothing I can offer you. Six months ago, at the start of this nightmare with my leg, I would have prayed for comfort. But no more. All I wanted now was to sleep, to stop feeling so scared.
Could I pinpoint the moment God stopped listening to my prayers? Just last fall, right after the start of the school year (I’m a teacher), I rolled my left ankle. A mild sprain, I thought. No big deal. Except it was. It got worse.
By Thanksgiving an MRI showed I’d crushed a bone at the top of my foot. Okay, I thought, I’ll wait for the bone to heal.
A month later, no improvement. I tried physical therapy. The pain only worsened. Then, over Christmas, my foot and ankle turned a deep pink, and the skin became ice cold to the touch. Each day the pink area crept higher up my leg. White spots appeared on my foot. Just touching the ground caused excruciating pain.
I used crutches around the house. For longer trips I needed a wheelchair, a heavy, bulky thing I had to load and unload into my car.
I tried to stay upbeat in front of my husband, Fred, and our three kids, but with me out of action it fell on them to run the household, get ready for school, run errands. It was wearing us all down.
I’d tried a specialist. He put me through a test. He tugged my foot, twisted gently side to side, pressed his thumb where my broken bone had been and had me push my foot against his hand. I cried out in pain.
“I apologize,” the doctor said. “But I do have a diagnosis now. Reflexive Sympathetic Dystrophy. RSD. There’s a large nerve that runs from your spine down your leg. For reasons we don’t understand that nerve is sending the wrong signals. It’s telling you your skin’s cold and your foot’s in pain.”
“What can I do?” I asked.
The doctor looked sympathetic. “If the physical therapy didn’t help, there’s nothing I can offer you.”
That’s when I stopped praying. Clearly, God didn’t hear me. Every day the pink area rose a little higher up my leg. Finally, one morning, I woke up and looked at my leg. I was horrified. I hoisted myself out of bed, got on my crutches and hobbled into the kitchen. My husband and the kids were eating breakfast.
“Mom,” said our 14-year-old. “What’s wrong?”
I couldn’t disguise the fear in my voice. “It’s past my knee,” I said. “What are we going to do?”
Fred looked defeated. “I don’t know,” he said. “I just don’t know.”
It was remembering moments like that one that kept me up at night. Tonight seemed even worse somehow. I tossed and turned, full of negative thoughts. I knew I should close my eyes and pray. I just couldn’t. I rolled over like a lump under the sheets. Finally I fell asleep.
When I awoke it was raining. Great, I thought. I’ll get soaked hobbling into work. Maybe I just shouldn’t go. I stared at the ceiling. Fred was already up. The bedroom was very quiet. On impulse, a desperate impulse, I whispered, “God?” No response. “Do you even want to hear from me anymore?”
Then something very strange happened. A voice answered me. “My child,” it said.
I caught my breath. “Is there anything else you want to say to me?” I whispered.
“Get up,” said the voice. That was it. I sat up, grabbed my crutches and hobbled to the kitchen. Fred and the kids were eating breakfast like normal. Had I really heard anything at all? Great, I must be losing my mind now too, I thought.
I waited until everyone left, then I picked up the phone. I had a little time before I had to leave for my job so I dialed the number for my specialist. There’s nothing I can offer you. I remembered a nurse in his office who’d been sweet to me over the phone a while ago.
I’d never met her in person. For some reason I wanted to talk to her.
It was she who answered the phone. I told her my name. She knew exactly who I was.
“I’m not sure why I’m calling,” I said. “It’s just...I feel so dejected. The discolored area is above my knee now. The doctor said there’s nothing he can do....” I trailed off. There was a pause.
“Mrs. Likkel,” the nurse said, “I’m going to be direct with you. You are playing the game of your life. You have a choice. You can give in and spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair. Or you can have faith. You’re being tormented, aren’t you? By negative voices?
"Doctors can’t do anything for you. But God can. You declare his healing power and refuse to believe anything else. Find a verse. Say that verse over your leg. Believe it.”
Astonished, I thanked her and got quickly off the phone. I didn’t know quite what to do. Finally I took out my Bible and flipped through, landing on Luke 8:50: “Don’t be afraid. Just believe, and she will be healed.” I looked at my leg. Uglier than ever.
I closed my eyes. Don’t be afraid.... I said the verse. I said it again. And again. I threw my whole heart into the words.
I opened my eyes. Did my leg look less pink?
Sue, you’re just going crazy, I thought.
I read the verse again, like an antiphony to all the negative voices, then turned the page to see what came next. I clapped my hand to my mouth.
At the very top of the page were four words: “My child, get up!”
The air around me felt electric. Joy and peace poured through me. I stood up. I took a step. Another step. I bent down and touched the skin. It was warm! The redness and spots had faded. The pain was gone.
I got in to see my doctor as soon as possible. He pulled on my foot, twisted gently side to side, pressed his thumb where my broken bone had been and had me push my foot against his hand. I didn’t make a sound.
“There’s no RSD. It’s gone,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a mystery.”
Mysterious, maybe, but not a mystery. Not to me. Nor to anyone who’s heard the voice of healing when healing seemed impossible.
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