Neck Trouble

After a shot, tests, scans and four hours of waiting, the emergency room doctor walked in and said, “Mr. Godsey, your problem is that you are old.”

I couldn’t grasp what he had just said, “Excuse me?”

“You are old. Look it happens to a lot of people. You have reached the number of years where your body is just old. Your hair is gone, your eyes are getting worse. Heck, you have cobwebs in your armpits. You are just old, sir, and nothing will fix that.”

At least, that’s what I took from what he said. His words told me, “You have a degenerative condition in your neck. It happens with age…” I added the hair and cobwebs parts, but I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant.

Last Thursday I took a vacation day to work on some schoolwork. Something about looking down at my computer and reading textbooks on my iPad made my neck lock up. By Friday morning I couldn’t turn or lift my head.

The fact that I had a neck issue was really surprising since I don’t really have much of a neck. Even if I wanted to, which I don’t, I could never be a guy with earrings because my ear lobes would get caught in the collars of my shirt.

I thought about the term the doctor used. He said my problem was degenerative. That word is kind of scary because it can mean that the problem will continue to get worse. Not in this case, however.

What degenerative means here is that my neck has already degenerated. The disks between a couple of my vertebra have gotten bad enough, worn down enough, that now they can cause me pain. It didn’t happen all at once, they got slowly worse over the years, and now are in a state that can cause me trouble. I never even knew it was happening until Friday morning when my head wouldn’t move. Who knows how long my poor little neck discs were suffering under the huge weight of my skull and massive brain, just being worn down by the burden they had to carry? They finally threw up their hands (metaphorically, of course), and in their best James Brown voice said, “I can’t do no more…”

As I was sitting in my recliner waiting for pain medication to kick in, I thought about other degenerative things in life. We all wear down in one way or another. Our hair gets gray or starts to go missing. Our eyes get a little dimmer, our glasses get a little thicker. We walk a little slower. It happens.

Another thing that causes us to wear down is sin. And the effect of sin can be just like the wear and tear of my neck. You may go through years and not see any immediate loss from your sin. You go through each day unaware that sin is wearing you down, taking its toll on you, and on your relationships with your family and friends. Then, one day, you look around and realize that something is wrong. It may be when your home breaks up, or when you reach a moment and ask yourself, “Is this all there is?” Just like my neck, you never thought you had it, but sin has always been there, slowly eroding your life.

The sad truth about my neck is that there isn’t much they can do for it. They can give me medicine to help alleviate the symptoms. If it gets bad enough they can do surgery to try to make my neck not get any worse, but they can’t really fix it.

And that is where my sin analogy goes off the tracks. There is a cure for sin. When Jesus died on the cross, he did it because he knew what sin would do to us. He knew that it would erode our lives, our bodies and our selves. He also knew that he could fix it. Jesus has the cure for sin. 1 John 1:7-9 says, 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

So today my neck feels a little better. It’s never going to be what it was, but I didn’t think I had a neck to begin with, so maybe I won’t miss it. I don’t miss my sin, either. And that is the best healing of all.

Trying to turn my head… Jerry


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