From an article originally posted April 2, 2014…
I woke in the night and had to stifle a scream. In the night in my sleep, I had suctioned my raw and ulcered cheek between my teeth. I know I have experienced pain, a lot of pain, but this was a pain like no other. I almost vomited. It reminded me of when I first got braces and I would wake with my mouth in the tight grip of my new metal. Remember that? Pulling your cheeks off your braces. But these cheeks have an open ulcer on them. Horrible visual I’m sure. I applaud you for reading. It almost feels like a grosser than gross joke, except ummm, not.
I took my Eleanor to grab a book last night. I tried hard not to wince, but it was impossible. Ella was so kind. She ever so gently in the car turned down the music and turned to me and said, Mama, how are you really? I tried to be brave, but I did tell her the pain was discouraging. Then she put on her accompaniment music for her recital and sang me Castle On A Cloud. I was thankful for the dark in the car. I wept. Big thankful and sad tears.
Last night I woke in a terror of pain, panicked really. So I went and cut off a gauze pad and stuffed it in my mouth to keep it from getting suctioned to my teeth again. But that hurt too badly, so I went back and smothered it in coconut oil and it seemed to help. I came to bed and asked Jason if I would choke on the gauze in my sleep. We both couldn’t really tell, so we just shut our eyes and attempted sleep.
I woke without being choked and I took the gauze and ran to the numbing mouth wash. And this morning it dawned on me; I see where pain pill addiction can start. I see it so clearly. In such a desperate place, such a low of something that seems so minor—addiction can sneak in quietly. Not even for self, but so everyone else doesn’t have to see the pain. And then a kindness grew in me for the least of these that suffer from such addiction. I imagine it to be a suffocating condition. One that starts in desperation and ends in self-loathing.
So I came downstairs and texted my sister in law and she gave me some homeopathic options to try. Yes, I caught the wave and did coconut oil pulling. It started out awful—kind of like putting a lump of Crisco in my mouth, but by the end it felt good. That and Advil have given me a bit of relief this morning. You all have given me so many kind suggestions. So many. And your prayers are felt. All I have been through, and a mouth sore—who would have thought?
Thank you all for your kindness to me. Pray today for those in chronic pain. I know too many. Many that suffer with terrible back pain that never lets up. This small sore has given me a new love, a new grace, a new understanding of desperation in pain. Though that can sound condescending in a way to people who live in chronic pain, but I will attempt to use this pain to remind me to pray for those that live every moment in pain.
How can you assert yourself in kindness today? How can you turn down the radio and listen and really hear from a heart of another? There is so much pain, all sorts, and very few willing to listen, really listen. Would you be that safe place for someone today? Would you pray for those in your life that struggle with pain or addiction? Would you broaden your circles to include the least of these? We are all limping along in our own ways through today, could you limp along honestly with another and embrace community in a new way?