Hope & Healing Through Photography and Poetic Expression


“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.”

~ Paul Tillich

Heading back to New York City for a few days to have the mri and spinal procedure that was scheduled two weeks ago (see: Release « THROUGH THE HEALING LENS).

Anticipation and anxiety have been tormenting my soul these last few weeks. I think two weeks was too long to expect me to keep “releasing” the questions that linger and haunt. I haven’t had my spine mucked with in a few years… and over the past 19, have been poked, prodded, carved and dissected, without resolve more times than I care to remember. Why are we back to the spine again when so many experts assured me just 16 months ago the issue was my hip that needed carving? And why did that hip surgery result in worse pain and dysfunction?  Seems like lots of guess-work taking place, and this all makes my head churn.

So… here I am, trying to find my optimism, but I confess…facing some pretty gloomy shadows of doubt. I am working to let go of the questions and have faith, but am having a tough time given the pain levels I’ve been living.

Nevertheless, there are some very important life-occasions coming up around here (namely my daughter’s college graduation in Boston entailing  travel and exciting ceremonies, celebrations~so proud of that kid!! I really want to be there for her, and be a part of it all (for me), and thus, agreed to the upcoming medical experiments to try to get the pain levels reduced enough to allow me to join in on the good stuff ahead. Unfortunately, I have no rescue medication to turn to, as my body completely rejects narcotic pain drugs which produce severe spasm of my bile ducts (more painful than a long drawn out heart attack). Even more the reason I’m really needing this spine procedure to buy me some pain relief.

And so, I’m attempting to confront the doubts and fears, and conjure up some serious faith for my journey. Was happy to stumble on Tillich’s quote above, as it made me aware that doubt and faith may indeed be interconnected.

Hoping that this procedure will lead to a revelation of sorts, and at least get me into a mode of higher functioning so I can participate in the festivities, and perhaps even gain insight as to what structures are causing the worst of my pain. If it works well, I’m hoping I can be more aggressive with my rehab program and, of course, take on more adventurous blog photo shoots!

Thanks for everyone’s good energy blown my way on this one. I can feel it, and truly do appreciate.

Farewell for now…. sorry will be at least a few days before I can post again… but in the meantime
wishing all of you good things while I’m away!

Much Love ~ Robyn Lee

55 responses

  1. you take good care, and try not to worry, and do keep things posted when you can as there will be many looking forward to know what is going on with you
    Pain’s always been a conundrum which has only details that need to be sought out and fixed in mind to be dealt with in a manner that suits you best.. as I am sure you know

    April 25, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    • Thanks Dean…and yes….I do know. This journey has taken my poor little spirit on quite a ride. Unfortunately the adventure continues… appreciate your good wishes.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:23 AM

  2. eremophila

    Good luck!! Wishing positive outcomes! I think courage and fear go together also like doubt and faith – and I have no doubts about your courage 🙂

    April 25, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    • Thanks much eremophila! Yes – it seems there can be no faith if one has not yet embraced doubt. Major soul-work here 🙂

      April 25, 2012 at 12:25 AM

  3. paul

    your spirit is huge and i’m praying to God you get some relief. the vacillation between faith and doubt is a cruel mistress…..one that takes a little more of your soul each procedure. i still believe God has big plans for you. someone of your bravery and perseverence is a tool for good,,,,,,,and inspiration. i pray for relief for you and the tranquility it will bring to you

    April 25, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    • Paul, so touched by your comment. Yes – it’s difficult to face disappointment when you invest so much hope and faith that the solution is near. I know it’s my work to keep trusting though, and your words have really boosted that confidence today. Thank you!!

      April 25, 2012 at 9:44 AM

  4. When I saw your photos of the coast, i was wondering if you were an East-Coaster. I’m a Bostonian…but not native to the East. Yes, doubt is a part of faith. I’ve found that when I doubt the most, it seems like somehow I’m carried through even when I think I’m left all alone– when in doubt asking for ways to understand that make sense to you… I will ask for blessings around you and for those docs you meet, that they can be guided to deeply understand what you need, so that your pain becomes less in ways that you can feel and know. You have great courage. Thank you for your honest sharing. Blessings, Erin

    April 25, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    • Thanks so much Erin. I so appreciate your thoughtful comment. It’s clear you have great compassion and wisdom, means a lot. Sending good wishes your way always.

      April 25, 2012 at 9:48 AM

  5. Asifa

    My prayers for you to have a great time ahead with your daughter 🙂

    April 25, 2012 at 2:34 AM

  6. Oh Robyn – my thoughts and prayers are with you and my hopes. That is a wonderful quote too and so apt because it means that when your faith falters it’s normal and I love the idea of doubt being part of faith. I have such admiration for your courage and the way you deal with pain – you are an absolute hero! Love Juliexxx

    April 25, 2012 at 3:53 AM

    • Thanks Jules. Not feeling like much of a hero here (but I know you get that) . Yeah – this doubt/faith thing has me really wondering now. At least I know that if I’m feeling less optimistic at times, it may just be the path to greater hopefulness and faith. That feels better than being all doubtful and confused 🙂 So appreciate your friendship. xo

      April 25, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      • Hi Robyn – it’s so hard to express how much I care about you even though I only know you through our blogs – words are so inadequate and wish I could give you a huge hug – a real one rather than a virtual one. I will be waiting eagerly to hear how it all goes. So many best wishes and all that – you are great and it will be okay and please email me anytime or whatever you want – Love Juliexx
        – sorry if this is too gushy!

        April 25, 2012 at 9:57 AM

      • Awww – Jules – feel the same…and find it amazing that you can feel so connected to someone by meeting this way. Thank you for the huge ‘virtual’ hug and know I too would give you a real one if we were able. All went well today (other than a few loud screams and moans for me). I seemed to have some benefit while I was numb and then OUCH (which may mean we have uncovered a ‘hot spot’). Now I have to wait a few days till the steroid kicks in and hopefully some relief will bless me!! Never too gushy for me…. Sleep well – hope to catch up tomorrow on my missed blog reading!! Sending Love!! RL

        April 26, 2012 at 11:58 PM

      • Strangely, I am on steroids at the moment too, fighting an asthma attack – nothing compared to what you are going through but it’s an interesting coincidence. Looking forward to your next post, Robyn!

        April 27, 2012 at 12:03 AM

  7. victoriaaphotography

    I DO hope something positive comes out of this surgery, even if it’s only a reduction in pain. When you have chronic pain for many years, you become an expert at describing the many faces and levels of pain that you encounter every day. Sometimes even a different sort of pain can bring some sort of relief to the seemingly never ending cycle.

    If you don’t already use it or know of it, I can highly recommend Bach’s Rescue Remedy (for shock or stress – around $18-$20 for a small bottle of this homeopathic style of remedy). Two drops on the tongue every couple of hours before and after surgery seemed to make a big difference to my own recovery from back surgery. In fact, I recommended it to my Breast Surgeon last August and she tried it to find it really helped her stress levels before she operated on someone.

    I also started a regime of Vit E, high dose Vit C as well as some other supplements to give my immune and healing system a boost after my surgery. You can’t take some of these (including fish oil) before surgery as they increase the risk of post-operative bleeding or bruising.

    The important thing is to do whatever makes you happy and feel as comfortable as possible. Like….. never wear pj’s – the elastic around the waist is excruciating after surgery. In fact, I always feel better when I take my clothes off for bed each night even now, 3 years after my back surgery. Just the removal of clothes is a relief to my back and hip pain (& I always wear loose clothes anyway).

    Take along your favourite music, books, dvd’s or whatever distracts you best.

    I have a favourite book called Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung? by Ajahn Brahm (a Buddhist monk living in Perth, Australia). It’s a collection of inspiring stories for welcoming life’s difficulties and some of it is very, very funny. Ajahn Brahm is one of the most entertaining and inspiring storytellers I know. Some stories are only half a page in length. Some are a couple of pages. About 108 Buddhist based stories to read when you’ve got 15-20mins to spare. Perfect for hospital, waiting for medical appointments or having tests which involves sitting waiting for things to happen.

    I’ll be thinking of you and sending warm wishes and positive thoughts across the miles.

    April 25, 2012 at 5:20 AM

    • Thanks for pointing out Brahm’s book – I wanted to order it for some time, but forgot about it.

      If I may add another book recommendation, that is about letting go (of attachments/expectations), acceptance, etc.:
      “F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way” by John C. Parkin (http://amzn.to/Ij6r6c)
      This is no joke, don’t be mislead by the title – it’s not about saying f-it to everything in life, but to all our attachments.
      The essence of this book is very much Taoistic/Zennish – I can confirm that as someone cultivating both practices. This can really be a life-changer.

      April 25, 2012 at 6:43 AM

      • victoriaaphotography

        Thanks for the book suggestion. Just looked it up on Amazon – unfortunately priced beyond my means while living on a Disability Pension. Gosh, even the ‘used’ editions are beyond my price limit. But I daresay, a lot of the last 2 years have been doing most of what the book suggests (within my chronic health limitations).

        April 25, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    • Hey Victoria – thanks so much for your comment. Totally get it that even a shift in pain quality can be soothing at times. Yes – know about the Rescue Remedy (used it years and years ago when working with an energy healer). I may have to revisit it as it’s been a while. I don’t recall much of an effect for me then, but it’s worth a try again for sure. The book by Brahm sounds perfect. Will order it asap.

      BTW, this is not a major surgery…just an outpatient procedure designed to try to get me some relief (possibly) and uncover the structures that are most painful. It may or may not tell us much. Should there be more spine surgeries in my future (praying not)… will definitely need all the holistic ammunition I can find – especially since narcotics aren’t tolerated.

      So grateful for your warm thoughts and good wishes! Wellness Always, RL

      April 25, 2012 at 9:57 AM

      • victoriaaphotography

        Wish I could offer some more ideas (as I was trained in Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy over 20 years ago), but when it came to the crunch about 5 years ago, I opted for some heavy duty analgesics. I couldn’t keep up full-time work otherwise.

        I take far less analgesics now I’m not working and not under stress to sit at a desk all day using a computer.

        The Paleo Diet (no dairy or grains) when I kept to it 100% gave me 3 months symptom and pain free in late 2005, but it’s really hard to stick to (now I’m not working and on a rather frugal budget). I haven’t eaten much dairy for 25 years, but DO take a calcium/vit D to help.

        It IS surprising how subtle changes in your diet can help chronic pain. eg acid/alkaline balance, pure/organic fresh food. I’ve had some improvement recently when I switched from mainly organic chamomile tea to organic lemongrass tea.

        Re-read one of my herbal encycl. and discovered lemongrass was good for chronic inflammation which I have.

        I light up like the ‘red-light district’ in Amsterdam when my limbs are viewed on an ultrasound..

        April 25, 2012 at 10:32 AM

  8. Praying for you, Robyn…Using your photos and writing to exercise your stress and worry is wonderful and I pray that something really good comes out of what is on the horizon…warm thoughts always…david

    April 25, 2012 at 6:15 AM

    • Much appreciate David. Yes – this is a new endeavor for me…using creative outlets to cope!! 🙂 Verdict is still out for me whether it’s beneficial, but I am certainly having fun with the blogging and that seems to me a step in the right direction. Seems most agree it’s therapeutic. Thanks for your all your good thoughts and encouragement. Means a lot. RL

      April 25, 2012 at 10:03 AM

  9. Very best wishes from me as well!
    One quote that helps me very often in stressful situations: “This too shall pass.”

    April 25, 2012 at 6:34 AM

    • So grateful fotografzahl. Yes – keep using that one… know it will !!

      April 25, 2012 at 9:59 AM

  10. Shelby burns

    I am praying for success in not just supressing your pain but a cause and cure.
    Congrats to your daughter as she graduates!

    April 25, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    • Thanks so much Shelby! Truly appreciate:)

      April 25, 2012 at 10:04 AM

  11. recoverythrumylens

    Robyn, hoping and praying this gives you some relief…it’s been such a long road for you and the fact that you’ve kept the faith is a testament to your courage….you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t doubt…so it makes sense that the two go hand in hand…and the image here shows all that…great work….I’m so happy you found the lens…

    April 25, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    • Thanks so much Meryl. And nice to have someone here who knew Robyn Lee pre-pain (oh the stories you could tell 🙂 LOL!

      Yes – still pondering the doubt as an element of faith thing. Never really considered this notion before but it came to me at the right time. I am glad you liked the image. I thought it captured a lot of what I’m feeling on this topic. Happy I found the “lens” too… 🙂 xo

      April 25, 2012 at 10:08 AM

  12. Praying for you, hoping for everything to bring positive results. (hugs)

    April 25, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    • thanks so much Francis! Much appreciate your warm thoughts:)

      April 25, 2012 at 10:08 AM

  13. Lady of sweetness, recently I met you, but I can appreciate that you’re like a gladiator, strength, courage and most importantly the good feeling for us all. You are accompanied by your family but you also have all your friends think of you as much force now and we need your art and your sweet words.
    Cruz de Sur

    April 25, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    • Carlos – you just always have the perfect expression. Still amazes me that your first language is not English. Thank your warm and genuine caring thoughts. ‘Gladiator Princess’… I’ll take that image with me today and tomorrow 🙂 Sending you warm wishes always! RL

      April 25, 2012 at 10:10 AM

  14. katbunker

    last June I traveled out of state ( Boston to GA) for Sacroiliac Joint iFuse and fixation as well as double piriformis release. I spent 7 1/2 years in extreme pain having back and hip played with . Since my Si surgery, I have had several orthopedics tell me they were not taught much about the SI Joint in med school. It can be a source of tremendous pain and is very , very often overlooked. My SI joint pain is gone – I am just left with the rest of the lumbar stuff that having an unstable pelvis for all those years caused . Please check out the facebook group titled Sacro-Iliac Joint Syndrome and you can private message me or email me for more information. It’s an avenue that should be explored. I understand your constant pain very well and wish it would leave us.

    April 25, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    • Thanks so much Kat. Ok – I’m guessing here… but my prediction is you may have seen Dr. Alan Lippitt in Georgia??? I looked seriously into this many moons ago. My original diagnosis when my pain began when I was 30 was si joint dysfunction. Unfortunately I never got relief from the si joint blocks, or prolotherapy … so never confirmed si joint as the culprit (though its and osteopaths said it was a huge part of the puzzle). I’m so happy the fixation was so helpful for you. Makes me wonder if I could have missed something back then. Now having the lumbar fused and hip issues, not sure that fixating the si would be wise. I have a very flexible body-type (hypermobile) so when joints don’t move the ligaments around them pick up the slack. In any case… perhaps we can communicate more on this in the future. Wishing you good things and wellness always. Helps to know others who have been down a similar path! Best, RL

      April 25, 2012 at 10:17 AM

      • katbunker

        RL, you are just about right on as far as the doc goes. . My surgery was done by Dr David Weiss, who was trained by Dr. Lippett before he retired. I was aligned correctly in the operating room by PT Vicki Sims before the hardware was put in. He did iFuse implants on the left and screw fixation on the right and double piriformis muscle severance. Now, almost 11 mos postop, I still have a very stubborn sciatica, lots of swelling around the nerves on all lumbar areas. I am hoping there is no lumbar fusion in my future but that often happens. Several folks I am in touch with have had to go on to multiple surgeries –nothing any of us want. Will be keeping you in thought and prayer — hoping you get some relief. That you continue to walk and take these beautiful photos and post inspiration for others is amazing. I know how painful the walking can be. Blessings and feel free to email me whenever you like. Although hopefully we won’t be getting to the point of asking questions about the others surgery because we are facing them. ~~ Kat

        April 28, 2012 at 2:09 PM

  15. Kathy

    My thoughts and prayers are with you Robyn. I pray all goes well. Stay positive.

    April 25, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    • Thanks Kathy! Means a lot. Will do:)

      April 25, 2012 at 10:18 AM

  16. Chris

    I wish you all the best Robyn, keeping my fingers crossed that you will find some kind of pain release and hopeful cure from this spinal procedure.

    Keeping you in my thoughts.

    April 25, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    • Hey Chris…thanks much. Will go into the experiment with an open heart and see what happens. Really appreciate your good wishes my way! RL

      April 25, 2012 at 10:19 AM

  17. braunrcb

    Robyn I hope this procedure helps so you will be able to enjoy the graduation and other festivities and just so you could enjoy your daily life without feeling pain. It’s funny, the first time I looked at the photo I didn’t see your shadow. I only saw the train tracks.

    April 25, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    • Thanks Renee….means a lot. So interesting that you did not see the shadow image of me looking down the train tracks! I felt the image was very symbolic of my situation – wondering “which way to go” , and hoping I stay safe and out of danger. Appreciate your good wished for me:) xo

      April 25, 2012 at 10:21 AM

  18. Wishing you the very best. Much love, Mindy oxo

    April 25, 2012 at 1:05 PM

  19. Surrounding you with Reiki energy and sending you blessings and love. Pray all goes well. Keep up your spirits, friend, with gratitude exercises. Safe travels and Lots of love and light, Angela.

    April 25, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    • Thanks from the heart Angela. So needing that reiki energy right now & do appreciate it! Part 1 today and tomorrow will be here soon. Willkeep my center best I can. Hard to revisit Old traumas. Gratitude & love are the best strategies though. Will do my best! Promise.

      April 26, 2012 at 12:38 AM

  20. Oh Robyn, what a long, difficult journey you have been on. I wish and pray that the answers you seek will be found, that the doubt you feel will give way to perfect faith and that you will be freed from these emotional and physical limitations that the pain has laid so heavily upon you. Surrender yourself to hope, my friend. Prayers and hugs to you!

    April 25, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    • Thanks so much KT! Your comment was just perfect this late hour after a grueling day! Surrender…. a must for a future post! Sending love and light for you and know your kindness is so appreciated! Will take all these good vibes with me to the or tomorrow.

      April 26, 2012 at 12:43 AM

  21. it looks as though you have a firm handle upon that railroad crossing,
    please be brave, stay strong and keep the faith ….
    my thoughts and prayers are with you Robyn:)


    April 25, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    • Oh Jim… I love your take on the photo. I hope I do have that firm handle on these tracks I am crossing. Thanks so much for your encouragement. Such a beautiful group of souls I’ve been blessed with here in Blog Land…Good night sir… And may tomorrow be a bright day for all of us!

      April 26, 2012 at 12:48 AM

  22. Jill

    Standing at the crossing of doubt and faith.
    Much depends on if you picture yourself as the mighty train or the one stopped at the gate watching it pass. Good luck, my friend.

    April 26, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    • Great insight Jill! Yes – I think I have envisioned both…. pretty crossed energy on this one but the doctor sure seemed confident he was in the right direction and everything went off ok (barring a few moans and screams on my part!) Thanks for your good wishes ~

      April 26, 2012 at 11:41 PM

  23. I’m praying for you, Robyn. It is OK to have doubt for that is part of being human but I also know that you are a strong woman and full of faith which will see you through this procedure. Think of the many good things like your daughter’s graduation as incentive when that cloud of doubt is setting in. 😉

    April 26, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    • Thanks so much Malou! I did pretty well today – and yes – tried to fill my psyche with good visions and feeling good! So appreciate your supportive words!

      April 26, 2012 at 11:43 PM

  24. Know that your lens heals us as well as you. Just discovering you and already wishing you blessings. ~ Dan

    May 4, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    • Very touched Dan… and grateful for your kindness. Blessings your way always as well!

      May 4, 2012 at 12:36 PM

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