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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 5 comments

If I'm honest I'd have to admit that this has been a rough year; the great majority of it has been spent battling health issues. It's been a "perfect storm" of sorts, with so many problems cropping up at once that it's taken 11 months to get things sorted out.  Most days I was just dragging, so exhausted that even after a 3-4 hour nap I was done in by 6:30 p.m. and fighting to stay awake until a decent bed time.  I had to stop exercising because on top of being exhausted, for some reason I just couldn't get enough air.  Most days these issues were accompanied by blinding headaches and tremendous pain in my neck and shoulder.  

Not fun.

Slowly the mystery began to unravel.  In March I learned I'm allergic to dust and pets - both of which resided in my house - which led to the breathing difficulties. This diagnosis prompted us to replace our 20-30-year-old carpet with hardwood floors (like I needed a D-I-Y project on top of everything else). 

It took until October to confirm that the exhaustion came from a new medication I'd started last December.  Once I stopped taking that, suddenly I had four hours back in my day - with the exception of the time devoured by those blinding headaches.  It wasn't until early November that I discovered the headaches, neck and shoulder pain and all the other issues I was battling were all caused by a problem with my jaw.  And the problem with my jaw came about because of the negligence of one person.

So basically, because a dentist here took a shortcut I've spent the better part of the year in pain.  Because he didn't take the time to check my bite as he was trained to do, the retainer he made actually knocked my jaw out of place when it was supposed to do just the opposite.  I'm currently in physical therapy twice a week to undo the damage to my neck and shoulder and have to travel to the other side of the state to see a specialist about my jaw.  He's already told me the damage is irreparable, though treatment is available to relieve the pain and expand the motion in my jaw. (Right now, I can barely open wide enough to eat a banana.) 

I understand now why some people sue others.  All the pain I've suffered, all the expense of testing and treatment and all the treatment that lies ahead of me all because of the negligence of one person.

Except that I can't stop there.  I have a choice.  I can choose to look at this from a human perspective of what someone did or I can look at this situation from the perspective of what God is doing, knowing that ultimately He is in control of all things.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19

The retainer in question was not the first one this local dentist gave me but the second. The first came two months earlier when my permanent retainer broke and I went in to have it replaced. I remember thinking then that maybe I should have a removable retainer instead of a permanent one, but they'd already started the process of the permanent one so I told myself that it didn't really matter anyway.


I had a migraine from the time that retainer was put in until 6 weeks later when I had him remove it because I just couldn't take it anymore.  We discovered I had a reaction to the material it was made of, giving me the migraine.  I realized, too little, too late, that it was the Holy Spirit prompting me to avoid that first retainer.  If I would have recognized his voice and followed His direction, I could have saved myself all that pain and suffering.

Looking back, I see I could say the same thing now. Sure, I could blame the dentist and waste valuable time and energy stewing about something that's already happened and can't be undone, or I can look to God and recognize that none of this would have happened if I would have asked Him for direction in the first place.  

Truth be told, I also took a shortcut.  I didn't want to drive to the other side of the state for a new retainer and thought it wouldn't make any difference if I had it made by the dentist here who had been trained by the specialist there. I didn't know said dentist was no longer applying what he'd been taught, but I do know that if I'd asked God for direction, He surely would have given it to me. 

So once again I find myself working to keep my focus fixed on God and the good He is doing rather than on myself and my circumstances.

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." ~ Philippians 4:8-9

And good things have come of this:

I've had an 11 month lesson on the importance of seeking God's direction in EVERYTHING, a lesson that will not be easily forgotten.

I have answers, which is actually quite unusual for me as far as health problems are concerned.  

I kicked the habit of watching TV in bed.  I've been doing this for years and couldn't manage to quit until my neck hurt so bad that I just wasn't able. With therapy my neck is now improving but I've managed to keep the TV out of the picture.

I've been able to get a realistic picture of what is truly necessary and pare down activities that fill up my time. Having 4 less hours in a day will do that. Now the trick is to keep those things from slipping back in.  

I get to spend time with my friend every week.  Since I needed physical therapy anyway I arranged to by treated by my friend and now visit twice a week.

"Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back." ~ Isaiah 38:17

How about you?  Do you play "The Blame Game" looking for someone to pin responsibility on? Or do you look beyond, acknowledging that God is sovereign over all things and can benefit you even amidst the most difficult of circumstances?

Father I thank you that no experience is ever wasted, especially those difficult ones. Thank you for giving me a heavenly perspective and help me to keep my focus on You and retain the benefits reaped from these difficult circumstances.


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5 Responses so far.

  1. Faith says:

    WOW! well, first of all, praise the Lord that you discovered all of these irritations and poor dental care that was causing so many problems. And yay for replacing your carpets. I too have "suffered" although different circumstances...usually more on an emotional level, from not listening to that still small Voice that i KNEW was the Lord but ignored so I (with a capital letter) could be in control. Lesson learned! Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing on a personal level. I think I am going to recommend this post to a friend of mine who is suffering from a physical ailment that i KNOW is the result from not making the choice God wanted her to make. I know she will get a lot out of this. Thanks and God bless!!

  2. Wow (was my first vocal response as well)
    A painful and long lasting lesson. whether you decide to pursue legal action or not, I would make sure that dentist AND his associates and staff knew that the way things were done was the cause of your suffering. If you can prevent one other person from experiencing the same...
    I know my dental problems contributed much to my anemia.
    I could give up carpeting but never the pets.
    Like you, I suffer extreme exhaustion and am learning to prioritize what activities are important to me. I put a sign on my refrigerator - We no longer assign blame, we ASSUME responsibility.

  3. KatBouska says:

    Oh I'm so sorry you've been in so much pain!! It's amazing to me how even just a headache can make everyday tasks so miserable. My family suffers from migraines, but I only get a couple a year that require me to stay in bed. I can't imagine dealing with one for 6 weeks on top of everything else you've experienced this year. I agree it's best to move forward and enjoy the fact that you have discovered most of what has caused this misery, but still I can't help but grieve your lost time with you. Gah!

  4. I had similar problems with a locked jaw and clicking in my ear. I thought perhaps a head massage would help, so I phoned an RN in the yellow pages who also did massage. She immediately referred me to an elderly chiropractor in a rest home so I made an appointment. She did some balancing and had me touch parts of my body while keeping contact with the touch and then with the other hand touch other parts. Next - This is what really helped me: She said to curl your tongue to the roof of your mouth press and hold for a few seconds. Do this daily. The other thing seems silly, but she explained that your body is controlled by electrical circuits that originate in the brain, but the brain gets tired it needs to be woke up. She said to place my thumbs in the joint of my jaw where the jar opens and closes. Keep the thumbs in place and reach up with the fingers and drum like playing the piano across the top of your head. Keep this up for at least a minute and continue daily. When I left the lady, my jaw was able to open and I could now eat properly. Amazing how a simple natural procedure could help this woman (ME) who was willing to try anything to ease the pain and discomfort. NO more clicks in my ear, either which was amazing.

  5. Thank you for sharing with us at "Tell Me a Story." I know your story will help someone in a similar situation.

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