Hello, friends. I know some of you have been waiting on an update on Adam. We saw the neurologist today. She told us (wonderfully!) that Adam's MRI was absolutely clean. His brain is in excellent shape. His carotid arteries are clear (from the CT scan). His tick panel came back clear too. So he did not have a stroke. She said he does not have Parkinson's, epilepsy, Muscular Dystrophy or any of those scary things.
Then the doctor sat there with a musing look on her face and said she didn't know what had caused his symptoms. Since last week, Adam has been practicing and working on improving his muscle strength in his left hand, and trying to regain some of the physical actions he'd lost. But he still obviously (well, obvious to a doctor) has some issues with reflexes and muscle response.
She explored a topic we'd talked about before: extreme stress. She admitted that at our last visit, she'd wondered if these symptoms were caused by stress, simply because of the various muscle groups that were involved. We'd told her about the amount of stress Adam has experienced in the past month or so.
In the end that was the result we were left with. The technical name is "conversion disorder," in which psychological stress is shown in physical ways. There are times when extreme stress can cause physical effects. The doctor said it is not a rare condition. It will pass as the stress passes. As a pastor, Adam tends to empathize perhaps too much in other people's miseries. And he hears about people's miseries often. Some situations this spring have been extremely distressing. Add to that some stresses and pressures at church, and people behaving badly ... and you have big stress. It's been discouraging and very hard.
It's actually pretty hard for me to write that last bit. Pastors and their families are usually supposed to pretend that everything is fine. That the church is perfect. That nobody in the church is difficult to work with, nobody is mean, nobody treats anyone badly. Of course, that's a lie. It's problematic for pastors and their families to be living a lie. But if we say anything about how broken the churches are, not only are people shocked and disappointed in us, they reprimand us for showing the church in a bad light to the world around us -- you know, letting all those pagans know that the church is not perfect. Because (oh yeah) we've really had them fooled! It does no one any good to pretend we are angelic. It would do a lot of people much good if we started changing ourselves and our behaviors, living the love and commitment we profess. (I write this as a generalization, of course. This is not a description of our particular church. We have all the usual folks, including many who are very loving and dear.)
For all of you who are not pastors or pastors' wives, do remember this: there's one person in your church who canNOT come to church, to his Christian brothers and sisters, and say, "The stress at my workplace is killing me. I work with crazy people who are really damaging me." That person is your pastor. Everybody else can use the church as a haven from work stress, a place to find comfort and advice. Who does the pastor turn to? Who pastors him? In big churches, often this question has been addressed and considered. But in small, rural, out-of-the-way churches, pastors are often left to muddle through on their own. Everybody assumes, "It's a small church. How stressful can it be?"
Many, many thanks for your prayers. We are greatly relieved that there isn't a dire medical emergency or a debilitating condition. God has been so very gracious to us! Adam feels that now he can work hard to get himself back to normal, and now he can set aside the additional stress he was struggling with, worrying about the medical stuff. Phew!!!