The cell phone alarm telling me it’s time for my medication is a jaunty Irish jig. It lifts my spirits each time I hear the call to swallow a few pills. Some medication keeps my heart in rhythm. Some meds limit the number of days each month that I lose to blinding migraines. Still others take the edge off crippling anxiety, with the added perk of helping to reduce some of the whole-body pain I never even realized could improve.
You might think I wouldn’t need to be reminded of that, given the list of benefits I’ve named, but taking medication has been a struggle for me to accept.
I’m a farm girl. A woman of faith. I attended a conservative Christian college. I genuinely believe that God can heal any of our ailments. I’ve also had my share of rotten side effects that seemed far worse than the malady the medication was intended to treat: whole-body bruising, vomiting, a dangerous cardiac arrhythmia, worsening anxiety, sleep deprivation, loss of taste.
With such nasty side effects, I questioned if I should accept medication at all. Were the ill effects a sign that God disproved of them or of me? If my faith were stronger, would I need them? What was wrong with me? Perhaps I was uniquely faith-flawed. More than once, I tried to be “medication free,” with nearly disastrous results. I even saw the fact that I’d need medication for my arrhythmia after seven cardiac ablations as a failure, instead of the tremendous blessing it is to still have a pulse.
Today I’m more comfortable with my regimen. This assortment of medications is just one part of a much larger picture. Love, support, and a heaping dose of laughter have worked wonders, too.
I’m learning to trust that God is using the pills to bring me back into life with my family, my church, and my community. When the jig is ringing and I find a little more spring in my step, I whisper a prayer of thanksgiving and swallow the pills.
Michelle McIlroy attends Delmar Reformed Church in Albany, New York.
This article is from Breaking Barriers, Winter 2020.