Do you have a mantra – a saying or prayer you repeat over and over again while under times of extreme duress? (“O God O God O God” doesn’t really count!)
Mine is Psalm 23 and I use it most frequently when going to the dentist when he is jabbing a 10-inch needle into my gums.
Yesterday I went to the doctor – another occasion to use my mantra! I wasn’t seeing my usual one, Dr. S, because she wasn’t available for a couple of weeks. Instead I saw a nice older man, Dr. M, who seemed knowledgeable and had a wonderful bedside manner…until…
I was there because it was time for my semi-annual cortisone injections in my knees. I tend to forget about my knees and how bad they are until the cortisone wears off. And then it’s a rapid descent from a very manageable 2-3 pain level to an 8-9-10 pain level. For those who don’t know, level 10 is writhing on the floor (or in bed) in pure pain and nothing is sending it away.
By this time, I can barely walk and am in level 8-9 pain 24-7, so I was willing to see any doctor with a needle-in-hand.
So, back to mantras—I was laying back on the table while Dr. M was busy prepping his instruments of torture – 3-foot-long needles filled with much-needed relief.
With Dr. S, I am jabbering so much by this time – nonsense really – that she injects me before I know it and I’m done. With Dr. M, I’m nervous and quiet – so I start casting about for my mantra—
What is it again?… Now I lay me down to sleep… No! I don’t want to pray about death!… Oh! there it is… The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want… Dr. M is approaching me with giant needle in hand, an evil look in his eye and a sneer of perverse pleasure on his face… The Lord is my Shepherd! The Lord is my Shepherd!… Ah! I feel the needle go in, disperse its pleasure palace of fire and he’s done….
Wait! It’s not over!… The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want… the panic rises in my heart and throat and threatens to choke out the mantra from my head… He approaches… all I can say is The Lord is my Shepherd, the Lord is my Shepherd, the Lord is my… the needle! 3-feet of torture! It slides into my knee – this fire is worse than the last one – then quickly subsides into numbness… The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want….
Dr. M is done, and the liquid bliss is already working its way into my nerve endings and the pain level decreases rapidly to level 4-5 (I can understand becoming addicted to pain killers…the brief elation between levels 10 and 4 is true ecstasy.) But, wait – not wanting to leave me in my euphoric bliss, he sends me to the vampires below in their lair to abscond with 2 vials of blood (it is 4:00 pm, Happy Hour, don’t you know).
Did my mantra work? Oh, yes. Were I not concentrating on Psalm 23 – what I could remember of it in the midst of stress and turmoil – my heart would have exploded from panic.
Thank you, Lord, for your Grace and Mercy and the fine physicians and creators of medicine who make my life quite a bit more pain free.
One last word – you may ask, ‘why don’t you get your knees replaced?’ A question Dr. S asks me at least twice a year. My response is: ‘What!? And have two God-created body parts replaced by man-made parts? I don’t think so! Not yet—I’m not ready. When I had my thyroid and gall bladder slashed from my body I went through a spiritual trauma of sorts. Part of my body, my spirit, two God-created parts of me ripped from my body – no, I can’t – not yet. I can’t even begin to handle my knees being taken from me for earth-bound-forever.
Prayers and blessings to all those who have gone before and had body parts removed and/or replaced. You are braver than I am. And I bless you, and pray that God keeps you and makes His face to shine upon you in all of your going out and your coming in, that your days may be long upon this earth and you spend eternity with the One Who truly loves and cares for you.
For now, I will endure semi-annual torture sessions in favor of a bone-saw and titanium screws. And rely on my mantra (and God) to see me through.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside the still waters
He restores my soul;
He leads me into paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
For You are with me
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare me a table before me in the presence of my enemies
You anoint my head with oil
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the House of the Lord