(See related posts: What’s Wrong with Nichelle?, The Twins Are Back: What’s Wrong with Nichelle, Continued, and Life Is Swell; or view all posts categorized as related to fibromyalgia.)

Beyond the significant swelling, Nichelle’s life seems to be defined ever more by pain. On Valentine’s Day she had a “good day”—the pain was only mild for much of the daylight hours, and she enjoyed being able to do some work around the house. By suppertime, though, her pain had started to return. Walking became markedly difficult. By 9:00 or 10:00 the pain was steady and even more severe.

Tonight was particularly troubling. Nichelle was feeling pretty good until late afternoon, and was looking forward to attending the midweek Bible study. At 5:30, she announced that she needed to get dinner on and then take a nap. By the time I left work, she determined that she wasn’t going anywhere. By the time I got home to pick up the kids for church, she was having severe pain in her left leg, and remained virtually immobile during the two hours we were out at church, because she (and Nichelle is not one to exaggerate) was afraid if she got off the couch, she’d fall down and not be able to get up.

About the time the kids were being put to bed, the pain became extreme. She took two of the pain medications she has been prescribed, but normally does not use. They didn’t do much. The pain in one leg spread to the other.

Then the head pains started. These were awful.

For ten minutes at a time, over the space of more than half an hour, Nichelle is racked with sharp head pains that almost defy description. Every few seconds she convulses, stiffly curling up, and manages somehow to stifle her cries of agony. Tears well up in her eyes. Her breathing becomes rapid. For a few minutes these pains subside, and then they return.

I kneel beside her, gently clutching her hand, my own body heaving with sobs I cannot control. “I love you,” she whispers quietly when the pains relent for a few moments. I weep even more.

After what the clock says is only an hour, the stabbing pains have passed. Nichelle sits up for the first time all evening.

Perhaps the rest of the night will bring some degree of comfort.

Editor’s note: Thankfully, attacks this severe don’t happen every day, but they do seem to come a couple of times a week, and similar attacks of lesser severity do come every day. The tiring, debilitating pain is there almost always, though. Nichelle took the kids to Wal*Mart on Monday night, for a very quick trip. When she got back she said, “You know, there’s no way I could make it through the [grocery] shopping.” (I knew that—it’s why I’ve been doing the grocery shopping for the past few months.)

Keywords: Fibromyalgia, swelling, severe pain

15 Replies to “Pain”

  1. Nichelle, Doug,

    I’m so sorry to hear about this. My heart and prayers go out to you. How wonderful that Doug is being so supportive. You will continue to be in my consistent prayers.

    with love,


  2. Mark,

    Thank you for your prayers. I was pain free during the night, which of course was a relief and blessing. I am actually still pain free. 🙂 Yes, Doug is amazingly supportive amongst many other wonderful attributes.

  3. Doug and Nichelle,

    My spirit continues to weep with you as you endure this pain. I pray that the Lord will soon allow it to pass and that you can return to “normal,” whatever that is. 🙂


  4. John Piper, a well-known Christian writer and pastor, has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

    His reaction to this disease is encourageing and uplifting! This helps me with my ailments, and I hope helps you as well.

    You can read it by clicking here.

    Here are some excerpts:

    This news has, of course, been good for me. The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness. The news of cancer has a wonderfully blasting effect on both. I thank God for that. The times with Christ in these days have been unusually sweet.

    For example, is there anything greater to hear and believe in the bottom of your heart than this: “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)?

    God has designed this trial for my good and for your good. You can see this in 2 Corinthians 1:9, “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” And in 2 Corinthians 1:4-6, “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God . . . If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation.”

    So I am praying: “Lord, for your great glory, 1) don’t let me miss any of the sanctifying blessings that you have for me in this experience…

    What a great attitude! I pray that I’d have this attitude, and you as well, Nichelle. God bless you!

    We all love you.

  5. Mark,

    John Piper’s attitude/perspective is indeed awesome! I had read his letter before and was blessed by it from Beth’s blog, but it was an encouragement to read it again. I also signed up to get the weekly emails.

    One of the missionaries that our church supports, The Feistels, in Taiwan, was diagnosed w/ colon cancer, I believe just about a year ealier they lost their daughter to drowning, she was in her 20’s. Their testimony through all that has happened and is happening in their lives is a tremendous testimony of God’s working in their lives. Go to: and be blessed and encouraged as well.

    I have been claiming Ps. 62:8. I have been pouring out my heart to my Savior, my Refuge, my Strength. His grace is sufficient. Whatever the outcome will be due to this illness, I too pray that God is and will be glorified through it all.

  6. Nichelle & Doug,

    You are in my prayers and thoughts. I woke up this morning feeling a bit stiff with arthritis and I immediatly thought of you and my pain is so insignifigant compaired to what you go through on a daily basis. I quickly stopped thinking of my whoa’s and started praying for you and ohters that I know that are in constant pain. Doug you seem to be such a support for Nichelle. If only more men could tend to their wives needs when they are in pain or needing a hand to just hold and cry with. (Phil is very good at that too!)

  7. Jen,

    Thank you so much for your continued prayers. Today has found me with mild to no pain. Now, I get to see what I’m able to do and for how long. God has blessed me with a loving, caring and compassionate man, for which I give Him much praise.

  8. Here’s the verse Nichelle claims:

    8Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.

    Psalm 62:8 (KJV)

    Dealing with this pain can be profoundly difficult. I have had to rely on God and His supernatural grace to keep me out of despair. Not despairing doesn’t mean I am not hurt, troubled, or saddened by Nichelle’s pain, but that I can rest in His greater knowledge and the assurance that this is all part of His redemptive plan.

    1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

    10Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

    Psalm 46:1–2, 10 (KJV)

    At times I have failed in this, even when not meaning to. Not more than a week or so ago, I end a period of at least two weeks where I became increasingly discouraged. I saw nothing but frustration, and continually felt sorry for myself.

    I needed to go to God for His strength, recommit my life and will to His sovereignty, and ask for continued grace to get through these difficult times.

    71It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes.

    Psalm 119:71 (KJV)

    Currently things are different. I still feel—and feel intensely—the pain and sorrow associated with Nichelle’s suffering, but I am no longer in despair. I still cry out in anguish to the Lord Who hears my prayers, but find that He gives peace. I find my heart less filled with rage, and more overflowing with love for my beloved.

    23Ye that fear the LORD, praise Him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him; and fear Him, all ye the seed of Israel. 24For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, He heard. 25My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear Him.

    Psalm 22:23–25 (KJV)

  9. I thought I’d give a health update. It’s nearly 1:30 and I’ve been up and about without a nap or needing to rest. That’s an improvement. Haven’t been without pain, but most of it has been mild and only a couple were bad, but quickly shot in and then out. So, overall, I’m feelin’ fine…keep prayin’ 🙂

    Editor’s note: The past few days have brough better-than-average mornings, followed by worse-than-average evenings. Still, Nichelle seems to be better off with a few hours of productivity earlier in the day.

    Editor’s note (later that day): I was right.

  10. Nichelle has been quite a bit better than usual for the past couple of days. Sunday she was able to attend both church services, and yesterday (Tuesday), she was in only mild pain all day, with only moderate pain appearing late in the evening.

    I knew something was different when I got home and she was actually walking around the kitchen instead of hobbling, and her movement did not seem hampered at all. (This also gives you some idea of how bad “the norm” has become.)

    I am grateful for this improvement, although I discovered Sunday that I was out of sorts—I do not know how to react anymore when Nichelle is feeling well. It has happened so rarely, and for so short a period, that I spend my time breath-holding for the rapid deterioration that has always followed a few hours’ respite. I wonder if I’m like the early believers, who, while praying for Peter, refused to believe Rhoda that it was he—miraculously released from prison—knocking at the door. (See Acts 12:1-17.)

  11. It was wonderful to go to church on Sunday, and it looks like I’ll be able to go tonight. I’ve felt great today. After getting the kids from school, dropping John off at work, and getting the kids home to change their clothes, I took them to the park to play. It was fun for them, but a blessing to be able to do that with them, too. Doug’s sister, Cindy and her daughter, Jen, were with us for a couple of nights. They cooked and did some major cleaning, but were also great company. Thank you both so much for all you did.

  12. Is it the Sleep?

    Today Nichelle is in pain again (“back hurting, hips burning”), and made an interesting observation. For the past two days, my sister Cindy had been staying with us, and she had been sleeping on an air matress in NaNi’s room. This left her in an ideal position to intercept NaNi when she woke up at night, and tuck her back in, before Naomi could make her way to our room and wake us up, even before (typically) we even heard NaNi awake.

    Our bed is small, and, in addition to having a third person there, having NaNi present activates Nichelle’s “Mom RADAR,” which leaves her in a more alert state, barely conscious but still wary of such things as, “Doug moved! Is he going to crush Naomi in her sleep?”

    Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,
    The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
    Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
    Chief nourisher in life’s feast.
    Shakespeare, “Macbeth” (2.2.48–51)

    So, tonight I’m going to try intereceptor mode, to see if it helps with Nichelle’s pain. If so, we need to figure out a solution for NaNi; Nichelle and I do not ever sleep apart (unless separated by geography), although I have sometimes slept on the floor next to our bed.

    8I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
    Psalm 4:8 (KJV)

    Of course, there is one problem with this: I’m a very sound sleeper. It may be that Naomi will wake up and just walk around me. I did find her about to leave her room one night, just as I was going to bed. She had gathered her water cup, pacifier (which she only uses when sleeping), blanket, and stuffed chipmunk. If only we were so lucid when waking up in the early morning hours.

  13. Yes, this should be a very interesting experiment. The reason for Doug sleeping on the floor was due to my thrashing about in pain which was obviously keeping Doug up. He opted for the floor and I did feel bad and guilty about that but he insisted. I do have an awesome husband. The next night I was not thrashing about, but in pain, so he was back in bed.

    I should also mention that I was well enough(felt great, actually) to make it to church last night. What a blessing to be able to go on Sunday and the midweek service.

  14. I’m glad you’ve been able to get out to church! We live in an old house (we like old houses), BUT because the rooms in an old cape are small, and because of a dormer window, doorways, closets and other structuraly interesting things, we can only fit a double bed into our room. I notice when we travel that I sleep much better in a larger bed. As we age we sleep lighter and every time one turns over, coughs, etc. the other wakes up. Our eventual plan is to someday add on a downstairs bedroom & bath. When we do I will make sure it is large enough to accomodate a Queen size bed. (Even my kids have Queen size beds!) [Do you know they don’t make blankets for double beds anymore? You have to buy Queen size. When they discontinue double size sheets I’m in trouble.]

    Doug- Quotes from BOTH Shakespeare and the Bible? Life doesn’t get any better than this! 😉

  15. Nichelle and I used a twin bed one time while my parents were visiting and we’d given them our room. That week was an interesting experiment. I spent the first night being pushed out of bed onto the floor, so the second night I said I’d take the side next to the wall. In the middle of the night, I found Nichelle sleeping soundly, taking up the whole bed, while I was pushed up against the wall so forcefully that I could barely breathe. The next night I decided to sleep on the floor next to the bed.

    As for our more current experiment, having me intercept NaNi did not seem to help Nichelle at all. She remembers waking up at least once in the night, possibly twice, as the bedroom light was on this morning and she couldn’t remember turning it on. So much for hopes of an uninterrupted night’s sleep! This morning the swelling was shocking (I will probably put up “before” and “after” pictures this evening), and Nichelle’s weight was up 2.5 pounds from yesterday. She was also stiff and in pain, although after an hour she said that most of the pain had gone away, leaving her feeling some slight pain and sleepiness.

    NaNi woke up crying three times that I remember, apparently searching for her pacifier, although she’d kicked off her blankets once and may have been cold. Each time, I was able to find the binky and get her back to sleep before she made much noise. I also learned that Naomi’s floor, despite having a soft carpet, wasn’t quite as comfortable as I thought it would be, but that it’s definitely softer than the carpet in our room.

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