Sunday, January 23, 2011

Out of Body Experience

Today I so wanted to have an "out of body" experience! For the first time I really wanted to be out of my body and into a body that isn't so messed up. I've been frustrated before, but never fed up.

Today at church my body was acting out like one of my 5 year olds screaming "I DON'T WANT TO SIT IN CHURCH!". And there was nothing I could do to satisfy it's sick need to make me as miserable as possible. It was a battle of wills, POTS (stamping and kicking) against Michele (trying to talk reason with it). POTS wanted me to be in pain and miserable, and I wanted to do everything I could to relieve my body of the symptoms I was facing.

My body seemed to be having more trouble with circulation than usual. While sitting my blood was pooling at my feet and buttocks(the word "pooling" seems to bring on visions of a swimming pool filled with blood, ewww), and not getting blood flow to my hands and head. The pooling made me ache in my hips and legs, and the lack of blood flow was causing my lips, tongue and nose to tingle and get numb. The pain would become so bad that it made me nauseous. The sermon was really good and my body had become a distraction. To remedy this I kept changing positions; crossing my legs, putting my feet up on the pew, shaking my feet and hands out, and moving around like I had ants in my pants. I'm sure I was a bit distracting to anyone behind me that is plagued with ADD. I'm sure I looked like one of my kinders rolling around on the rug. I finally had had enough and went out to the vestibule (the back of the church before you go into the main part of the church). I took a salt tablet and sat out the sermon next to the drinking fountain deemed necessary because the salt tablet leaves me feeling as parched as the Sahara desert. The ushers kept eyeing me compassionately waiting for something to happen since I've been on the prayer chain more often than I'd care to be. I went back into the main church when the music started up. While I was singing my body went through cycles of feeling fine to fatigue, then numbness and pain which would make me nauseated. I would stop singing, shake my limbs and go through the cycles all over again. I finally get why boxers are always shaking themselves out during their breaks, it's to shake up the blood into those parts of the body that have been hurt by their opponent. I can hear the Rocky anthem playing in the background of my head as I replace myself with the buff Sylvester Stallone (not quite as attractive vision). While all this was happening I kept telling myself this is the body God gave me, I need to stop complaining and accept and rejoice in what I have. Finally the POTS took over and I became so frustrated I shook my whole body out and wanted to growl out loud in the middle of church. "I've had enough of this stupid body God, take it I'm fed up with it! I want a new and improved one please." Is this what God means to suffer in Christ? I don't think so, I'm sure God wasn't too pleased with the fact that I hardly heard a word His servant our pastor was saying.

So many things about church are such a challenge for me, sitting still for over an hour, standing in one place to sing hymns and praise music, singing and running out of air and those dreaded stairs to get to the group I help lead. Do I just let POTS win and give up and stay home? On the other hand church is a place of "us", a place to worship together, unite in prayer and share our burdens so we don't ever have to walk in our pain and our joys alone. My faith in Christ and being close to other believers renews my hope that I'm not going through this alone and that there IS a purpose in this suffering. God does and has revealed His purpose in this many times, but some times His purpose is harder to see when I'm in the middle of the pain. Today I made up those stairs with less trouble than I expected. I'm sure there was someone praying for me when I wasn't able to do it myself. Hence the reason I continue to push through this every week.


Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone. And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.


  1. We had a very similar day today. I pushed beyond the struggles to sing during worship, and when standing became impossible I sat in a chair that we'd put there just for that case. I had to have help leaving the stage and getting to my seat and when my heart rate just wouldn't drop enough I simply turned and laid down on the pew during the sermon. I stumbled around like an old drunk, but I was determined to sing and participate in the service. Michele, we just can't give in! We must push. I'm not sure why we have to go through this, but I do know that our efforts will be greatly rewarded when we hear "well done thy good and faithful servant!" Hang in there Michele! Praying for you! Hugs and Love!

  2. Hi, Michelle!

    I'm a faithful reader who is finally de-lurking! I too have POTS. I'm 41, a wife, and stay at home, homeschooling mom of our 5 and 7 year olds. I also am a Christian and love going to and being a part of our church!

    Reading this post I feel I just have to comment! It moved me so much to hear of your struggle with pain, crushing fatigue, and the inability to fully concentrate while trying to participate in the church you love so much. Trying to do so in the same way you did before POTS. Why are you asking this of your body? If your legs were paralyzed you wouldn't expect them to hold you up when the rest of the congregation was standing to sing or pray. In the same way, as POTS patients we cannot make our blood pressure, heart rate, and circulation function normally when we're in an upright position. If you could just recline during church I think you would be much more able to focus on the sermon and on worship. I hope I'm not coming across as critical! Please know I'm just writing out of empathy and concern for you.

    I usually have just one trip out per week, and that is to church. My church family understands that POTS makes it very difficult for me to stand or even sit up for long. When I became well enough to attend services again, my pastor's wife brought a reclining indoor-outdoor type chair of theirs and placed it in the auditorium so I can sit semi-recumbently right beside my family with the rest of the congregation- without straining my body too much. Honestly, it's challenging enough getting up, getting ready, riding to and from church, and being out of bed for several hours. I'm not fond of having attention drawn to myself, but better to be a little self-conscious than to cause myself a physical setback or to just stay at home and watch the services on the church website. I urge you to get a reclining chair to use in church services. You and I are not so disabled that we have to use wheelchairs all the time, for which I'm very thankful. However, please don't deny yourself an accomodation you really do need.

    I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog! I am blessed by your faith, optimism, and humor in the face of the same kind of physical struggles I'm going through. I would love to hear from you! My email is

    In Christian Love,

  3. I understand this quite well. I have to fight a lot of pride in making sure that I'm taking care of myself, even if that means that I can't stand during the Gospel or the Eucharist (if it's an Eastern Rite Church) or kneel at a Roman Catholic Church. I don't stand or sit with everyone else, because of the fact that I'm so concerned about fainting. Being that I'm 24, it is difficult to not become self-conscious about sitting when everyone else (except the elderly) is standing. Even though people know that I have issues with standing, my own pride and ego really take me for a ride. Lord, have mercy for my weaknesses!

    As far as begging for my body to be replaced, I'm reminded of St. Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, in Chapter 12, starting a verse 6: "Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, 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.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

  4. Aww I hate when you should be able to rejoice in something enjoyable ... like church and pots has to get its digs in to make it impossible! I don't know what the pews are like there, but where I would go with my Grams were wooden pews, which definitely would be hard to deal with. You should try (just as option to what has worked for me) maybe a little pad or pillow to sit on or lean against, and if I have to stand and sit, stand and sit, in a small space, I use a cane to lean on while I'm standing and does surprisingly help!