My wife is currently down at the emergency room. She drove herself, despite me offering many times to drive her, but when your life feels completely out of control, it is nice to still be able to do little things.
The local Baptist Church’s sign says, “God never gives you more than he knows you can handle,” and something inside of my wants to smash it. My jaw clenches involuntarily and I picture myself pounding it with a sledgehammer while screaming, “You know nothing!”
My wife, Rue, has had a rough go from the start. Born three months premature, she formed a mild cerebral palsy that effects he strongest in her gait and balance, but you would never be able to tell how much pain she was in because she had always been in pain. I watched her birth two children with a smile, not because she didn’t hurt, because it hurt incredibly, but because that is just how she is.
(It may be genetic. That is how her father is. Despite having a few recent, painful surgeries himself, the only time I ever saw him stop smiling was the moment I also realized that he was about to kill me, but that is a story for another time.)
A little over two years ago, my wife formed Geniculate Neuralgia, which is also called ‘the Suicide Disease,’ because many people who have it end up just offing themselves. Neuralgia is when the wires in your brain short out for some reason, and this type is the rarest kind. Her brain surgeon said, in agreement with what we had researched, that this is the rarest kind. This guy was the premier brain surgeon in our town, and he had seen it once, ten years ago, during his residency at the Mayo Clinic. Best estimate was an 80% chance of success, which was important because a second surgery only has a 30 % chance.
The issue was that, normally, this type of Neuralgia is usually caused by having your wires crossed (“with compression”) and, when they got inside my wife’s head, they didn’t find any crossed wires, no matter what they may have joked about us at yet another family gathering we missed. (I’m joking… but, really.)
This left my wife with, not only the original pain (described as ‘a burning ice pick being stabbed repeatedly into your ear, constantly’) but also recovering from a hole in the head.
The timing is also wretched. My job has always been to juggle everything else, work, kids and the like, but at one of my last jobs, I was in a car accident that started giving me migraines. Apparently, I have bone spurs in my spine that, when the accident happened, were rammed directly into my spinal cord. I was being treated with epidurals in my neck, injections that would lay me out for three days with ice packs, but when they didn’t seem to be working, were increased to four at a time. It turned out that the series of four epidurals were to figure out where to apply the radiation.
Yeah, right. I’ll get right on that. If one shot lays me out for three days, how long does it take to bounce back from being nuked?
So, I held off on my series because we had to wait until Rue was better. She’s had her sinuses rebuilt and had a hole in the head… and they didn’t work. Nothing worked. Everything we have tried makes it worse. A recent injection, a ‘block,’ increased the pain 10 fold.
… and then, another doctor gives her the brush off. They stop returning calls. Their front desk treats you like a junkie looking for drugs and get rid of you as quick as they can. At first, I was insulted, but then I realized what was happening…
…. This is how a doctor tells you that you have surpassed his level of knowledge. To tell you is to publicly declare their limitations which might have legal and professional ramifications. So, instead, they drive you off.
It has been so rough lately.
The reason I am writing this is to get the story out there in the hopes that someone with knowledge can help us. I recently remembered that there are three top-rated Undergraduate Neuroscience Programs are in my home town (John Carroll University, Case Western and, the one that surprised me, Baldwin Wallace College in my hometown of Berea, OH), so it isn’t far-fetched to believe that someone I know might know someone who is a Neuroscience major, at least. This Geneculate Neuralgia is the stuff that books are written about, and would probably make a stellar paper in a journal. We just need someone with knowledge to look it over and tell us what the next step is, because as far as the doctors in this town are concerned, this is it.
Oh, yeah… The heading. You guys came for my declaration of Atheism. I am a Buddhist while I am am an Atheist, and if you want to know how that works, you have some studying to do.
I won’t be so crass as to say that my problems are so bad that there must be no god. What convinces me that there is no god is that I know how awful my situation is, and it seems to be almost unbearable, but there are people doing worse… kids staving to death while their parents watch. Children dying of rare diseases. People locked in basements for ten years, like in Cleveland. Probably, there are people that are suffering things I cannot even imagine.
There is a quiet comfort in knowing that there is no god, the thought that it is all just random. A snowflake can land just right and cause an avalanche.
There is a comfort in not believing in god because, to believe otherwise, means that the Loving God has decided, in his omnipotent wisdom, to crush and destroy people at random, crushing all the people around his targets simply because he can, and he doesn’t help even though he is all-powerful.
If I believed in god, I’d be out in the front yard, screaming curses and throwing rocks in the sky, daring him to strike me down…. and only crazy people do stuff like that.