Tag Archive | sciatica

Gratitude In Affliction


Hello wonderful people,

I know it has been a while since I last posted but before we draw the curtains of 2015, I have checked in today to testify of God’s goodness. Let me take you through a journey that has taken almost my whole year but in which God has tightly held my hand through and made me experience Him on a whole new level.

It all started on Monday, 4th May 2015. I had taken a day off from work to get some rest since I had attended a church camp that labour day weekend. I was in the house most of the time and only left for a few hours to attend fellowship then came back home. Before I went to bed, I felt a weird pain on my right leg, just below the knee on the side, and thought that it was probably because one of my friends had fallen with a plastic chair and hit my leg that Saturday during camp. Well, that was just coincidence as it later turned out when my doctor confirmed that the pain had nothing to do with it. Red herring! I couldn’t really understand why I felt such intense pain but I just went to bed and hoped that it would go away.

By the following day, the pain had spread to my hip, lower back and and without even pausing to find out how that was making me feel, crossed over to my entire left leg. I still did not think that it was anything serious and tried as much as possible to go about my daily activities with the hope that the pain would notice that I wasn’t paying any attention to it and leave me alone. It didn’t happen!

Working in the health sector, my organization has several doctors and so I approached one Dr. Preston that Wednesday when I realized that the pain wasn’t going away and explained to him how I felt. He prescribed medication for me and told me to notify him if I am not well by that Friday-thanking God for such mercies as having a doctor that you can consult for free 🙂 By Friday 8th May the pain had become severe. I couldn’t sleep or sit for long hours, I felt pins and needles on my sole and the only thing that seemed to work for me was standing, lying down flat on the floor or just being in the shower. Sometimes the pain would wake me up in the middle of the night and hot water falling on my back has never felt as therapeutic as it did on such nights. Dr. Preston speculated that it was something to do with my nerves and advised me to go get checked over the weekend.

I believe in prayer, I believe in miracles, I have faith that that my God is bigger than any mountain, I believe that God is able to take away any kind of pain and I kept asking Him to deal with it. I had come from a camp where two powerful men of God had prophesied that I have the gift of healing and I believed that with my whole being. I would hold every part where I felt pain and pray without ceasing on those sleepless nights but it still didn’t go away. Not at all! Not at that point when I direly wished it away. If anything, it’s like it got worse by the day.  However, that didn’t alter my faith and I believed that even if it didn’t go as soon as I wanted it to, God was handling it for me and all I needed to do was just trust that He had my back even on those nights that I felt like He was far away.

On Saturday evening, I went to a clinic near where I live after the pain became unbearable and I was just given an ointment to rub on my legs and lower back alongside painkillers. None of them seemed to be working at all and by Monday 11th May I was worse. I went to work as usual but I couldn’t even sit down on my desk to perform my duties (It was damn painful). Nothing could explain the kind of pain I felt and I would just tear up trying to explain to some of my colleagues. I did a few things at work while standing before being given sick off by my employer.

Tuesday 12th May saw my visit to an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Kigera, since Dr. Preston had booked an appointment for me the day before. May God greatly bless his soul for taking it upon himself to ensure that I had no option but to seek proper medical attention. I took myself to the hospital though my legs felt weak and I was now walking with a slight limp. I almost fell at Kencom where I had gone to board a bus number 46 to Nairobi Women’s Hospital. Thank God for the random stranger who held me right on time and helped me to the bus. I went through a pelvic  and lumbar spine X-ray which revealed that I had prolapsed discs (occurs when one of the discs that sit between the bones of the spine (the vertebrae) is damaged and presses on the nerves) but the doctor said that a further test-Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)-be done to see the extent of the prolapse.

I was put on medication and bed rest awaiting my next appointment that Friday 15th May for the doctor to assess my progress. Those were the longest three days of my life. Nothing was comfortable anymore. I couldn’t sleep, sit down for long and walking was also becoming a complete hustle. Imagine being at home when you can’t even sit down to catch up with a good read or movie…not interesting! I thank God for amazing friends who kept checking in at my place just to ensure that I was fine and that I had everything that I needed.

On Friday 15th May, I was more than ready for my appointment and this time round, I took a cab from home because walking was now very difficult. I went to Nairobi Women’s for my appointment where the doc referred me to Nairobi West Hospital where I was hospitalized in the female ward on 2nd floor, bed no 45 with Dr. Kigera still being the doctor attending to me. By the time I got there, three of my friends and my aunt were already there and helped with the documentation before I was taken to my admission bed. It seemed like I would be there for only a few days just for the MRI but little did I know that I would end up staying there for quite a while.

The subsequent days saw the pain on my lower back get severe. I couldn’t feel my limbs, sit down and had to be done for literally everything including being turned on the bed. I lost my balance and I couldn’t even stand or walk without support. There was a day I fell on the bathroom and I have never seen the nurses as scared as they were that day. They even opted to wash me from the bed and trust me I didn’t like that experience even one bit.

The MRI was done on 18th May 2015 at Mater Hospital where I was taken by an ambulance and returned to Nairobi West thereafter. For me, the MRI was a very scary yet painful experience. Scary probably because I’m claustrophobic and painful because I had to stay still with all that pain on my back for about 45 minutes as they scanned through every disc on my spine. Any slight movement would mean repeating the whole procedure again as the results would be rendered inaccurate. The MRI machine was very noisy and as much as I was put on headphones with music, it went off almost immediately. I did not alert the person in charge since I was scared that I would move and all I wanted was to get over and done with the whole process.

The MRI confirmed prolapsed discs L4 L5, L5 S1 and were pressing on the nerve heading towards my legs (sciatic nerve) hence causing the numbness, tingling and weakness on my legs (sciatica). I was put on physiotherapy, muscle relaxants and analgesics to help ease the pain. Now, a prolapsed disc also referred to as an herniated or slipped disc can be as a result of several things, for instance lifting heavy weights, sitting for long hours, bad sitting posture, accident, age (common in people between ages 30-50), it could even slip as you bend, just to mention a few. In my case, it is hard to attribute it to any specific cause. It can be treated through physiotherapy, an osteopath or chiropracta, medication, keeping active, or through surgery in extreme cases.

I thank God for very supportive nurses. At the ring of a bell, someone was readily available to offer me assistance and as much as it is their duty, I do not take it for granted that they were so friendly and really there for me. They encouraged me and cheered me even when I made the slightest improvement. I made friends at the hospital; patients and nurses alike. I was soon among the oldest members in the female ward and I became very popular due to the overwhelming number of visitors who came to see me. All you needed to do was ask for Beatrice and they would quickly shout Bed number 45 without even referring to their records. Sometimes my visitors were made to wait outside and see me in turns to avoid crowding my space. May God Bless everyone who took time off their busy schedule just to visit me.

My legs were numb for a while and no matter how much someone would pinch or poke me, I couldn’t feel a thing. My doctor referred me to a neurologist, Prof. Amayo, for a Nerve Conduction Study, which revealed that the nerves on my legs were not functioning as appropriately as they should (radiculopathy) and had to be stimulated through electric shock for them to respond. What followed thereafter was pain. In this case, pain was good as they kept saying that it is better pain than numb. My legs were also very weak and I still couldn’t walk without loosing balance. 20 days from the date of admission, I was discharged on 4th June with a walking frame to continue with physiotherapy and medication from home.

I won’t lie to you. Physiotherapy has been one of the most painful things in this whole experience. I still go for physio to date. I haven’t looked forward to any of the sessions because the thought of it just makes me sick. I have cried a number of times during therapy because of the pain on my lower back and bilateral limbs. I have gone through Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), ultrasound therapy, spinal traction, dry needling, reflexology, nugabest therapy,hot packs, physical exercises to strengthen my lower and upper limbs and very thorough stretches. Sometimes I have to be pinned down by one therapist as the other one does the stretches 😦 It also brings about lots of fatigue and I sleep at every opportune moment I get after physio to get some rest. Thank God for awesome physiotherapists who follow up to know how each session makes me feel and give advice on how to deal with the pain.

My hospital experience was humbling much more than I could ever tell. God strengthened my faith through His work on the lives of His people. In faith I prayed for fellow patients and they would recover and get discharged. I felt like this was God’s way of saying that He might not be healing me as soon as I wanted Him to but He is still the God who heals.

I received overwhelming love from those around me. The caretaker of the flat I live in would carry me up and down the stairs five floors every time I was going for physiotherapy or a doctor’s appointment voluntarily-at least now I am able to go up and down by myself with just minimal support from the rails. My awesome neighbours went out of their way to sacrifice their cars to take me to hospital in turns and even strangers would reach out and show their love and support in the best way they knew how. Thanking God for amazing salonists who would do my hair from the house. Say favour 🙂

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Right now I’m so appreciative of the small things in life. Not that I wasn’t before but this time around, it’s more personal. You know, the very small things like being able to stand on your own as you brush your teeth, taking yourself to the washroom, being able to take the stairs and sit down for long hours without strain, sleeping without feeling pain at night and just being able to maintain your balance. It is not just obvious that we are able to go about our lives at ease but it is all because of God’s sufficient grace.

My family has been my anchor throughout this period. My brothers and grandpa for always encouraging me and reminding me that I am much stronger than I could ever think. My aunt left her home and put her business on hold to come stay with me at my place until I got back on my feet. How humbling! She diligently helped me in everything (by everything I mean literally everything including taking me to the washroom) without complaining and would also help the caretaker at times in carrying me up and down the stairs. She still comes almost every week to check on me or take me for therapy and has been my mum, best friend and cheerleader. Praying with and for me and putting out good without growing weary or expecting anything in return.

I thank God for supportive friends who visited me at the hospital and would even stay until they are chased away, those who would comb my hair and even apply nail polish on my nails while still in hospital (it is small stuff like this that gives life a bigger meaning). For the ones who constantly encouraged me as I took the sessions and celebrated me at even the slightest of progress, may you be blessed beyond measure. For those who still continue to visit me at home tirelessly, call or send messages to check up on me, I am truly grateful. For those who kept calling me bouncing Beaty (because of the limp) I still love them to bits 🙂 For my friend who went out of her way to buy me a very expensive spring mattress, may God bless her beautiful soul, my friend who keeps getting me stuff from the shops and run errands on my behalf, I can never find the perfect words to express just how grateful I am. My friend who picks my clothes and washes them at her place then brings them back without fail, I pray for nothing but God’s abundant blessings for you. Those friends who come to sleep over at random days and help me out, I am so grateful. My friends from church and fellowship who bring the word of God to my house and pray with and for me, may God greatly increase you. I am really overwhelmed by the kind of love shown by my friends and friends of friends. You know that boundless kind of love, that’s what am talking about.

The organization I work for, PS Kenya, gave me more than enough support. They cleared my hospital bill and my awesome colleagues overwhelmed me with their indescribable support. They flooded the hospital to visit me every day and even went out of their way to visit me at home when I got discharged. The management was also patient with me and even let me take more than the allocated days to recover and when I went back, I still found my job 🙂

I resumed work on 27th July and though it would get very strenuous at first, I thank God because it has become easier by the day. I am to avoid bending, walking long distances, sitting for long hours and heavy lifting. I also wear a corset to work to help support my back.

I take a day off weekly to go for physiotherapy and my employer also provided an ergonomic chair for me to ensure that my back is well supported. My awesome colleagues have also made being at work a lot more bearable. From teasing me, to helping me whenever necessary. Thanking God for my colleague who offered to be taking me for lunch hour reflexology therapy sessions everyday apart from Wednesday when I go for the intense sessions that take about 3-4 hours and leave me completely fatigued. I really do not take it for granted and I pray that God’s favour will be upon her always. I also thank God for my other colleague who offered to be picking me up at my doorstep and dropping me back everyday since 27th July when I resumed work to December when we closed for the holiday. I can only pray that God overwhelms him with his blessings for such rare benevolence.

I am still on medication and continue with physiotherapy weekly and though the doctor was considering a nerve root injection if the pain does not go away, I thank God because the pain levels have gone down, my walking has become better with just a very slight limp remaining and I am able to do most things at ease.

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This far I have come, I can only testify that He is Jehovah Rapha. I have never felt at any one given point in time like God left me to go through this journey alone. He always found ways of reassuring me that He was with me and filled me with His joy and His peace that transcends all human understanding. I feel like I have gone through some kind of refiners fire and came out victorious. As we cross over to 2016, I believe that any form of pain or sickness has been left in 2015 and I look forward to a great year full of restoration 🙂

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me and I shall be saved, for you are the one I praise. Jeremiah 17:14