Thank You for Your Continued Prayers

By David J. Stewart | October 2011

       My neuropathy (nerve damage) symptoms have been horrible since my 2nd neck surgery made me worse in April of 2010 [with burning, tingling, my arms and legs feeling doubled in size (mostly my arms), my right leg feeling half asleep, toothache-like pain in back of my neck that radiates into my facial area, and the medications taking all my energy away).

I was panicky and overwhelmed when I came back home from surgery and had all these new physical problems in May of 2010. Surgery was supposed to help me, not make me worse. I was really depressed for several months, but my faith in God sustained me and knowing that my ministry is helping others in the Lord. I adapted over time to my new life with a messed up body, and that's the key, adapting. My arms still feel like puffed-up airbags, but I'm getting quite used to it. If I'd been born this way I wouldn't know it's not normal. It's all a mindset.

The pain has been the biggest problem for me, which the medications are helping tremendously to patch. I know many people are praying for me, who've previously told me so on many occasions (when I was able to tackle e-mails). I do so much appreciate your prayers. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have multiple health problems related to my neck. People can't see what's going on in my body, but the pain is horrible as I type. My eyes are very sore, agonizing in pain. It radiates from the back of my neck, up into my facial area, gums and behind my eyes. It is miserable to say the least. I felt good yesterday and went down to my favorite palm trees to make a few lap steel recordings (Harbor Lights | A Million Moons Over Hawaii | Beyond The Reef | Sweet Leilani | Lovely Hula Hands). I love the steel guitar and thank God for putting the desire in my heart to play it.

I hardly played my steel guitar for a long time after my surgery, but like riding a bicycle, you never forget. I have been playing more lately though, thanks to a change in medications that are helping. Lord willing I hope to continue sharing my music with others. I've increased my intake of prescription Gabapentin, which has reduced the sharp radiating pain into my arms and legs. I still have pain (which will likely never go away), but at least I can type and play my guitar more without so much difficulty. I'm taking 1,800 mg. a day of Gabapentin and it is helping. It's just a patch, but I'll take any relief I can get. 

When Gabapentin first came out, Big Pharma had doctors prescribing it for everything and they got sued. The drug is intended to treat nerve pain, period. It doesn't work for me though unless I take at least 1800 mg. daily consistently for at least 2-weeks. It makes me tired, but it's nice having less pain. I started taking more in desperation, because the pain was getting so bad in my forefingers and thumbs. Thankfully, at least for now, the drug seems to be helping.

I'm not any better physically, but my medications seem to be helping me more. I haven't felt as much burning and tingling, and the 120 to 160 mg. of Oxycontin daily really helps. In fact, it has given me a life. Without the Oxycontin I am a completely different person, suffering in agonizing neck pain that is debilitating. The Oxycontin really helps a lot, although at times (like right now) it does very little to help alleviate my pain! The pain in my neck, gums, eyes, and face is agonizing and I'm about to go lay down and put on my TENS unit.

A neurologist prescribed a TENS unit for me a couple weeks ago. It's a little medical device that uses a 9-volt battery, but I'll tell you, this little thing will electrocute you!!! (not literally) You place the electrode pads where the pain is at and then turn this thing on, which sends a constant electric charge as high as you adjust it to. Believe me, you won't be able to turn it all the way up. It really zaps you! I'm going to put it on in a minute after I upload this. It shocks the area with electricity. That's the best way I can describe it. It doesn't make the pain go away, it just gives you something to take your mind off the pain. You have to get a doctor's prescription to buy it online. They ordered it for me and I paid $97 for it. Anything is better than nothing when you're in horrible pain.

I can't take any more pain meds until a few hours from now, because I've taken the max dosage already of Percocet 10/325 and 40 mg. of Oxycontin ever 6-hours. If I take any more, I'll get pain in my stomach and my respiratory system gets choked up and I can't breath. That's what Oxycontin will do to you if you take too much. Peripheral Neuropathy affects you more at certain times than others, which is normal for this affliction. Sometimes I feel pretty good with the drugs, and at other times I don't want to live anymore because of the radiating neck pain, burning, tingling, puffy arms, half asleep leg, et cetera.

For the past couple months I've been grinding up 6-8 tablespoons of fresh flax seed in a coffee bean blender daily and mixing it with 16 ounces of V-8 juice. I like it. I drink 8-16 ounces of pure water with it, as the flax requires plenty of water. Many doctors have written about the healing properties of flax seed. It sure has made me feel better overall. I buy flax seed from a family farm in North Dakota. Flax seed has a great flavor for making breads and many recipes.

I Count My Blessings; God is Good!

I simply cannot put into words the overwhelming grief and suffering that I've been through over the past several years since my bodily afflictions began in 2004, although I am thankful to God that I am functional (which is more than many people have). I am blessed to suffer in the ways that I do, after reading about what some people endure. I read about a poor man in Belgium, who has been paralyzed completely for 23 -years, not even able to wink or acknowledge when somebody talks to him. Thankfully for the man, a doctor didn't give up on him and developed a special voice box which has allowed the man to talk for the first time in 23-years, after being labeled as a vegetable for all that time. Nobody spoke to him because they all thought he was in a vegetative state for 23-years. The doctors were all wrong, he was 100% alert.

The man said his family used to ask him to wink if he could understand them, but by the time he winked they had turned away from watching for a response. What a sad story. I can't think of any worse hell-on-earth than what that poor man has endured, being trapped in himself. Think about that. Can you imagine being total conscious 365 days a year, through the holidays, and no one knows you're alive as a person? I think about that man often when I am in horrible pain, when I feel burning and tingling in my limbs, when my right leg feels asleep and it aggravates me, when I don't want to face another day with this messed up body, and when I am overwhelmed with suffering.

At least I can type, talk and praise the Lord in the presence of others. I can tell people how good God is and pass out Bibles, tracts and witness to others. I can walk and take care of myself. I am very blessed of God. You cannot see a person's lupus, arthritis, peripheral neuropathy or other medical conditions that cause them horrible pain. I have peripheral neuropathy from a damaged spinal cord in my neck, from surgery gone bad. I have numerous identifiable problems in my neck according to my recent MRI in August of 2011, but nothing that warrants surgery I'm told. Since the 2nd surgery left me worse off, my doctors are telling me to leave my neck alone or else I may end up much worse off. It's a touch spot to be in.

At this point my medical options are zilch because I am functional and no more surgery is being offered. I've been examined by eight neurosurgeons, two orthosurgeons, have seen several doctors, three pain specialists, six MRI's, EMG and NCV tests, I've undergone two failed neck surgeries, and have exhausted all conventional treatments (cervical traction, three steroid injections, physical therapy, drugs, three chiropractors, et cetera) since 2004. I accept this as a humbling thorn in the flesh from God, a ministry of suffering...

"Here we find the Apostle himself was afflicted with a thorn in the flesh. He had some physical malady. On three occasions he sought the Lord for healing, and God did not see fit to heal him. Instead of healing him, He promised grace that would be sufficient. Some of the dearest Christians in the world and some of the sweetest of God's saints suffer affliction. This is not because of their sin. It is because they have been chosen for the ministry of suffering. In any discussion of God's healing the sick, it must be carefully noted that it is not always God's will to do so."

SOURCE: EXPLORING PRAYER WITH JACK HYLES, by Dr. Jack Hyles; chapter 38, Praying For The Sick

 Physical healing is not guaranteed in this world because Christ died on the cross. I'm physically messed up and will likely suffer affliction the rest of my life. I don't see my Cervical Degenerative Disk Disease improving on its own. I know God can do anything, and I pray for His will to be done in everything; but I also realize that physical suffering is a part of life... “but time and chance happeneth to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). God in His permissive will allows life to take its course, and only prayer can make a difference...

James 5:13, “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.”

Yet, we are not guaranteed healing, or else everyone would pray and always be healed. Miraculous divine healings are rare, but do happen in response to the prayer of faith; but NEVER occur by the hand of some greedy televangelist.

Until a person is afflicted with endless pain, they naturally can't relate to such suffering and can't possibly understand. They just can't. Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” That is why this website is here, i.e., because God has done a work in my heart to will and to do of His good pleasure. Amen and amen! I ask for your earnest prayers for this ministry and me daily. This ministry is much bigger than me, it's about the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE (John 14:6)! HEAR YE HIM!

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

I love you all in the Lord, whoever you may be!

Tomorrow's Guarantee of God's Provision

1st Thessalonians 5:25, “Brethren, pray for us.”

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