I remember the day I started to lose faith in Christian Science. It was a Sunday in January. After a week of bed rest, sincere prayer and study my midwife informed me my blood pressure was high enough we needed to go to the emergency room, now.
Tearful and totally freaked out, I called my best friend’s grandmother, a journal-listed practitioner and asked if she would/could prayerfully support me as I navigated the very unfamiliar world of hospitals. She gave me some stereotypical platitudes which I wrote down in binder of inspiration and I was rushed headlong into the world of Material Medicine.
I don’t think I have ever been so unprepared for anything in my entire life.
I’m not being melodramatic with that last line, for the preceding 25 years I had rarely set foot in a hospital or doctors office, other than my birth, I had never been in a hospital (except to visit people and that was a very rare event) and only twice as a patient: once when I was seven or eight and my sister and I had whooping cough, and once, at 23 when I went to Planned Parenthood to get birth control (and promptly had a panic attack).
My husband and I viewed birth as a “natural event” and had planned a home birth: a birthing pool would be set up in the kitchen of our new home, we might watch the Lord of the Rings as I labored, we’d have midwives and they’d have coffee and aromatherapy and a birthing ball. Instead I had a 2.5 day induction (with increasing dosages of while on magnesium sulfate with nothing for the pain) followed by an urgent c-section. I spent a week in the hospital, and the baby, who arrived at 35 weeks, spent two weeks in the NICU.
I was racked with guilt. Several of the nurses admonished me for not seeking medical attention sooner, for not having a primary care physician, much less an ob-gyn. My husband and I had to meet with a social worker (separately) to assess our situation.
We were not allowed to take our baby home from the hospital until we had obtained a pediatrician for our son and scheduled a follow-up appointment for two days after we brought him home, and extensively talked with the NICU nurses about infant care. I also had to schedule a follow-up appointment with the ob-gyn who had preformed my c-section.
I was released the following Sunday in the late afternoon. There was some confusion about the time the pharmacy at our local grocery store closed (they closed earlier than than said they would) so I was unable to pick up my pain medication. My MIL had to drive my husband (who was completely exhausted after sleeping on the floor of my hospital room all week) to the next town over (an hour round-trip) to a 24-hour Walgreens to get a temporary prescription filled.
During the time they were gone the medication the hospital administered wore off. I was alone in the house, in the dark in so much pain I wanted to die. I tried to pray, but I was unable to focus on anything. There was just pain. That night there was no amount of prayer that could manage what an ibuprofen and a norco did.
I was once one of the masses that used religion as an opiate. Having dealt with post-operation pain, I far prefer opiates, responsibly administered in responsible quantities for a limited duration, to religion. Although my faith was badly shaken, and prayer hadn’t done everything I had hoped, I was still alive, the baby was okay, and I had been a Christian Scientist who had been sheltered from “material medicine” for my entire life, I didn’t know any other way.