A health update from Baden : Thorn in my flesh.
‘Therefore, in order to keep me from being too full of myself, I was given a thorn in my flesh,… to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
A number of you have kindly been asking me lately how I’m getting on. Invariably the answer includes the word ‘complicated’. Thankfully the Covid symptoms are all but gone, my voice is much stronger again and my energy levels are increasing every day. However, about 10 days ago I started experiencing all-too-familiar pains in different parts of my body. It looks like the fibromyalgia might have been triggered by the Covid, or has it? (and this is where the word complicated comes in!). The main symptoms of Long Covid and fibromyalgia are practically identical to one another, so much so that there is no way of knowing which I have. The only way it might become clearer is that if the symptoms ease quickly, it’s probably long Covid. So what does all this mean? It means that I have persistent aches and pains all over my body which may, in time, cause chronic fatigue. What it doesn’t mean, is that I will have to take extended periods of time off again, like I did in 2002/2003 and 2016/2017. My time in Harold’s Cross Hospice in 2017 has given me tools to better deal with whatever this is. By keeping steadily active, regular exercises including swimming when the gyms reopen, I should be able to, what my doctor call, ‘muscle through’ it. But it will be slow, sometimes frustratingly slow.
Those of you who shared my journey with fibromyalgia before, may feel fed up by all this, overwhelmed even. I share your feelings and frustration, but I genuinely believe I have the tools to work through this next few months if I take it steady and keep it simple. In some ways it may actually be easier to manage due to current restrictions. It is my intention to be present at Sunday services, taking part to what ever level I am able. I also intend to prioritise pastoral care and especially funerals. Since the end of January I have been working in the office for 2 to 3 hours a day, (it gets me out of the house and keeps me active). I plan to continue this but will revert to taking Tuesdays and Fridays off. Words cannot properly express how very sorry I am that this has happened for a third time. Obviously, there is little I can do about how it triggered, but I am painfully aware of what my illnesses have put this parish community through over the years.
My only comfort comes from the verse I quoted above, one of my favourites. We have seen over the past 23 years what God can do with my weaknesses, Narnia Exhibitions, Temple Carrig School, our Christmas Tree Festival, and the Lighten our Darkness festival, all emerged after protracted times of illness. None of them would have become anything more than a wistful dream but for the courage, creativity and commitment of so many of you who bought into the ‘crazy’.
When I emerged from fibromyalgia in 2017, I promised myself I wouldn’t put you through this again, and yet here we are; only three years later at the beginning of another uncertain year, struggling with frailty and weakness, and yet there is so much to look forward to, as we allow God to make his power perfect through our weakness, as we wait and see what he’s going to do through us.