Imagine being a healthy, active adult with a successful career and suddenly being stricken with chronic debilitating pain. Chronic pain that would be your constant companion for the years ahead. This is what happened to Debbie Patrick in 2006 when she was injured playing soccer.
Her injury led to four surgeries, a trip to Alaska to see a specialist, and metal poisoning which caused irreplaceable damage to bone, muscle, and tissues. The result is that her hips are held together only by screws which causes constant pain. While dealing with these issues, she was diagnosed with breast cancer which led to more surgery, and in recent years, she has added another diagnosis -- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
You might expect a person dealing with such challenges to be angry, bitter, or filled with self-pity. After all, Debbie certainly has more than her fair share of trials in her life.
But that is not the case at all. I met Debbie in an online writing group, and found her to be humble, sweet, and focused on helping others, all the while giving credit to God for how he helps her daily.
When I heard Debbie wrote a book, I ordered it immediately.
Debbie’s book, What’s Next? Navigating Through the Truth, Tears and Turmoil of Chronic Pain, is an inspiring and uplifting book that focuses on giving hope to others dealing with chronic pain and illness. Hope that your life will not be defined by your pain and illness. Hope that God has a plan to walk with you and give you strength and courage. Hope that your life can be full and beautiful despite your diagnosis.
In Debbie’s own words:
Your prison of pain cannot keep you from flying. As you unlock the doors,
open your heart, and spread your wings, God in his great mercy, will
lift you higher and carry you further than you ever believed. (Patrick, 149).
Reading Debbie’s book was an eye-opening experience for me. I do not suffer from chronic pain or illness, but I have loved ones who do. So many times, I have been oblivious to the daily struggles they go through, and I am sure they tire of trying to explain. Reading about Debbie’s experiences has helped me to better understand their continuous challenges, and I hope I will be more sensitive to their needs in the future as a result.
Debbie’s book is filled with compassion and transparency. She pours her soul into this book, sharing the dark and discouraging parts of her journey and offering practical advice in straightforward and easy-to-understand terms, all the while cheering the reader on. Each chapter begins with a Scripture and offers an inspirational message, a prayer, and a reflective question for journaling. Debbie’s use of acrostics and alliteration makes her suggestions interesting and memorable. There are so many great takeaways from this book that is difficult for me to choose just a few to highlight.
When Debbie began her journey of chronic pain, she surrounded herself with color. All the necessary items associated with plunging into the medical world—notebooks, calendars, pens, journals, thank you notes, and even the quilt and pillows on her bed—she purchased in matching turquoise with pink flowers. “Pick a color,” Debbie suggests in chapter 3. “Something that makes you happy. . . Adding splashes of color will help to cope with the upcoming tasks.” (Patrick, 32).
Debbie cautions about dwelling on “if only.” Whatever your story of chronic pain or illness, you have your own set of “if only” scenarios unique to your situation, and it is tempting to stay stuck in that mindset. Debbie offers a better choice: “My dear friend, ‘if only’ is not a companion to share life with. . .God shows up in ‘glory moments’ that can change your path and perspective. Look for them.” (Patrick, 26-27).
One of Debbie’s “glory moments” came at a time she was weary of dealing with unbearable pain and frustrated at not being believed. Debbie explains, “An angel in the form of a naturopath, entered my story and walked with me through some dark days.” (Patrick, 22). Her “angel” gave her hope by listening to her and believing her. She was also able to help diminish her pain.
In chapter 9, Debbie writes about a particularly difficult time. Her occupational therapist suggested that she needed to grieve. At that time, Debbie had been trying so hard to be upbeat and thought she had already dealt with her grief, but she was thrown into a deep grief that lasted for weeks.
In Debbie’s words: “. . . I cried and I poured out my painful losses in the presence of God, who picked up the pieces and provided me peace. In the process He showed me new purpose and new possibilities to pursue in my future.” (Patrick, 87).
Debbie encourages you to grieve, but then move on to embrace what is. (Patrick, 91). If you are finding it difficult to make this transition, Debbie offers these steps in chapter 11. (Don’t you love her use of alliteration?)
Weep the Losses Your illness or Diagnosis have Created
Wisely Pick someone to Communicate the Grief
Worry No More
Wait on Jesus (Patrick 100-101).
Throughout her book, Debbie talks about the importance of being anchored in Jesus. Through everything she has experienced, Debbie can say, “My anchor holds.” (Patrick, 142). “Most importantly, these trials have taught me that my anchor, Jesus, holds me steadfast and never leaves.” (Patrick, 143).
Debbie desires that you, dear reader, would place your hope in Jesus, your Anchor. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19 (NIV).
You may be thinking, “I don’t suffer from chronic pain or weakness. Why would I want to read this book?” We all have trials and challenges. Debbie’s words of encouragement and practical principles will breathe hope into whatever troubles you are going through. Her book is sure to inspire and bless you regardless of your circumstances.
Can’t wait to get your hands on a copy of Debbie’s book? I have great news for you. Debbie has graciously donated a book to be given away in a drawing to a reader of InspirationalLee.com. You can enter the drawing by responding on the contact page on this blog, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by contacting me on my Facebook page, InspirationalLee. The drawing will be held 11/18 and is open to anyone with a US address.
*Please note—for this drawing, no one will be entered automatically. I want to make sure the book goes to someone who will be truly blessed by it.
*You can buy Debbie’s book, What’s Next? Navigating Through the Truth, Tears and Turmoil of Chronic Pain. (This is an affiliate link. If you purchase a book through this link I will receive a small commission to help defray the cost of this website.)
*Debbie shares heartfelt stories of encouragement on her website AnchoredandAlive.org.
Reference: Patrick, Debbie, What’s Next? Navigating Through the Truth, Tears and Turmoil of Chronic Pain, 2021, Debbie Patrick.