After several weeks of no response, my personal physician responded to my email. After several comments about not noticing my question, she apologized for her tardiness. “Maybe we should try another neurologist,” she wrote. After reading her response, I turned the computer off. There was no counter response. Not that I couldn’t respond. Simply, I am too tired to pursue anything further. 

“The doctors win,” I muttered to myself while at work. The empty, stagnant floor echoed nothing in return. Basically, I wish to feel myself again, but I realized yesterday just how illusive that may be. Until yesterday, I hadn’t experienced a severe dizziness episode since October 4th. If you compare last night’s episode with that of October 4th, one would say, “Tonight’s episode seems fairly tame.” Did I have dizziness and ataxia issues? Yes. Did those same symptoms knock me out like they did during September? No. If that’s the case then, get the ol’ body up and move. 

Last week, I told my case manager that “I have the best medical insurance. Yet, even knowing what I know about the medical industry, getting clinicians to work together and achieve a comprehensive overview of the patients is a bitch.” In the following weeks and months, the patient gets worse. Need an example? Two months ago, my neurologist said I have an inner ear issue and was referred to an ENT. Upon visiting the ENT, I was told the condition is neurological. Some days, it is difficult to convince people that even though I appear healthy outwardly, I actually do have a serious medical condition(s). Maybe they know this, then again, I wonder if they do. Or maybe clinicians understand. Then again, after battling COVID for several years, many clinicians are burnt out. As the patient fights daily bouts of pain, tightness, or any other host of medical symptoms, I am convinced there’s a repetitive door many patients have to endlessly walk: trudging from doctor to doctor, in and out of medical care facilities without diagnosis.

The worst thing to hear is, “… your symptoms don’t exactly match my area of specialty.” The patient will then be shuffled to another specialist for review. The difficulty of being untreated is that the quality of life can (and usually does) suffer due to the lack of treatment. You’re told to remain proactive, aware, and involved, but converting ‘gut instinct’ into actionable items is difficult. Much of the battle is finding a clinician who will review your entire medical history, listen to the description of symptoms, and seek an answer. The delay simply eats away at your confidence to handle any issue, or even start treatment and you’re unable to know what can be done to assist the afflicted in returning to normal. 

If you feel as though there’s no sense of anchor, then congratulations. Welcome to the club. The symptom(s) may be real to you, but it is not observable to the clinician. Some clinicians will take a “wait and see” approach. “Yup,” the clinician will say to themselves, “I bet these symptoms will disappear on their own.” The patient is told to see them again in six (6) months. However, getting the diagnosis is not always positive. Being diagnosed doesn’t always lead to cure. In it’s own way, the human body is extremely complicated. Most treatments only calm the symptoms and provide little in the way of substantive ‘cure.’ 

Buddhists might claim that physical disease is largely negative energy of karma consuming the sufferer. If we can, therefore, get rid of negative karma, then all will be right?” Probably not. Regardless of karma, many suffer. The man in room 407 groans in pain. Will he heal if all his karma is expunged? Probably not. A young mother in the ER is saying ‘goodbye’ to her husband who is on life support after a car accident. Will karma be reduced there? Again, probably not. 

One question I continually ask is the same most theologians ask: If God is all good and loving, then what the HELL is the deal? Unfortunately, neither the Old Testament nor New Testament answers the question. Personally, I don’t believe God is into the Divine retribution thing. (At least not on this earth.) I mean, how else can one explain the Trump presidency or January 6th, etc.? 

The Book of Job is about one particular person’s suffering, not your suffering. Even though the god of biblical days stated both the poor and rich suffer, Job exemplifies the suffering of a more righteous person. We learn several things from Job’s experiences. First, it is ok to question God when in pain. God did not smote Job. Secondly, pain on a global level (that is worldwide) is not addressed. Third, Job rejects the notion that one should simply transcend the difficulties as method for reward in the next life. In groping for answers, Job was never condemned. He cries to God for a response. And just as we have done time and again in grief, Job laments his pain. And just when Job was about to lose himself, God’s response provides profound personal meaning.

God finally responded to Job’s anguish. And just like Job, all of us can look and seek God in the ‘personal’ and ‘profound.’ I admit that even though I constantly question God, I feel His presence in my pain. His presence is both personal and profound. I feel the same with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Kanako, Karen, and even my father. And in times of great doubt and great pain, God is the one person that gets me through the day.

The trick for me, is to take any situation that occurs and make my day part of my spiritual walk. That means I must willing accept both good and bad experiences are part of my path. Thus, personal illness is just another part of the walk. In John 14, Jesus promised we will never be left alone, that He would send the Holy Spirit to be with us and to give us peace. (The Greek word for the Holy Spirit is literally translated to, “The one who comes alongside.”) And for me, I know that He’s aware of my  struggle. He’s not clueless, shocked or dismayed.

Questions borne out of pain that refuse to go away. They gnaw at our souls and, if remained unanswered, emotions become the determining factor of my path (whether medical or spiritual). It takes guts to search for God when everythng hurst. It takes grit and the willingness to live honestly to admit the struggle. However that personal struggle may provide a profound taste of unconditional love and never-ending grace. It may be that that little slice of faith will rebuild someone, just as it rebuilt me.