May 26, 2016

Good Medicine with Side Effects by Marnie Pohlmann

Warning: this may be too much information for some... 
I apologize for posting this so late in the day. I’m five weeks post bilateral mastectomy and do not yet have back my rhythm of life. But, better late than not!

I have not been sharing my writing for very long, so while I see God providing opportunities, for the most part the pruning and planting of this particular vineyard has yet to produce much fruit. I very much feel God is still establishing my ministry in life. I trust He will redeem my experiences and learning to build His kingdom. Yet the process of growth is valuable in itself, so let me share a metaphor for my writing in this season...

Have you ever taken a medication to treat a symptom only to have a side effect of the medication present a more disturbing symptom? This can be an endless cycle of chasing answers while not treating the root cause.

I am presently on a strong antibiotic. While it is successfully treating the infection at my surgical site, there are some uncomfortable side effects.  One side effect is diarrhea. So while I feel better and I am regaining my appetite, the nutrients are flowing right through, so I am not benefiting from the food as much as I could.

However, not all side effects are negative. Because I have this particular side effect of the medication, I am shedding retained water and possibly even some fat. In other words, I am losing weight!

Weight gain has been a side effect of another medication I have been on, so for three years I have been losing the struggle to maintain a healthy body weight. Now, having shed some pounds through surgery and side-effects, perhaps I can regain the energy to exercise before the weight settles in again. One thing leads to another and a new cycle begins, with new life patterns.

I think my writing is like medication. Writing helps me redeem pain, and nourishes my soul. But writing has side effects.

One of the side effects from writing can be negative self-talk. “I only won that contest because not many entered.” “Their encouraging comments are just because they are being kind to the new kid.” These kinds of thoughts cause the nutrients of feedback to flow right past. We easily accept the negative, yet quickly discount the positive. This false humility can be identified by taking the comments to God and asking for His view. Listening to feedback can be helpful only when we truthfully accept both the positive and negative.

Another possible side effect of writing is that eventually the words are shared. One never knows where the writing may end up. This opens one to the possibility of criticism, not only of your words, but of yourself. Putting yourself out there is scary, yet is the only way to share healing with others. Talk about the pain. Share the experiences. Encourage one another. God asks us not to heal and minister in isolation, but in community.

Some side effects from writing may not be negative. Perhaps, as the writing nourished my own soul while I wrote, it will also nourish others as they read. Maybe someone will be encouraged and able to deal with or shed their pain because I laid my own pain bare.

As I continue on with writing for my own healing, I will trust the side effects of my writing diarrhea will be positive, not negative, and will be used by God to build His kingdom in some way. As I learn the craft, share the words, and strive to glorify God, perhaps new exercise routines will be established to bring greater health to myself and to others.

Writing is good medicine that can help heal all ailments.

Marnie writes from Northern BC. Check out her blog, Phosphorescent.


  1. What a superb analogy! (And no, I'm NOT just saying that!!!) So true, though. Our own self talk is sometimes the biggest hurdle. I hope you are healing well, my friend, and I look forward to seeing you again, soon. (And by the way, for a 'new kid', your words always pack a punch!)

    1. :D - oh, Tracy, you never fail to encourage me. Thanks for being my cheerleader!

  2. As a nurse I appreciated the comparison! And some of our patterns are very circular, the negative self talk certainly can be. I like your thoughts to create new life cycles with new thought patterns. Thank you for this post, and I too wish you God's nearness in your recovery journey.

    1. Thanks, Jocelyn. I thought this might be TMI, but if we don't talk about the "crap" that happens to us and how God is present in the midst of it, then we really have no testimony, do we? Eph 4:22-24 seems to say that "changing our mind" is what helps us become new. I am healing well, and am enjoying living "flat". Just need to get the holes out of my brain so it works again!

  3. I'm still without my own Internet, so I have a difficult time keeping up with blogs right now. I have read this particular blog several times, and each time I came up wanting for a reply. Marnie, I have been in awe of your writing for some time. Your thoughts are deep, spiritual, and encouraging. I wanted to tell you this in ways that would not make you feel, "Oh, she's just saying that to be nice." I always get a message out of what you writing.

    One of the things I appreciate about this blog, and other pieces of yours that I've read, is that you write honestly and from the heart. You also write with a brilliance in your turn of phrase. The title for your personal blog, "Phosphorescence" has so many layers of meaning and it is so precisely suited for what you are writing.

    May God continue to heal you in mind, body, and spirit. God made each of us exactly as he did for more reasons than we can fathom. I am glad God made you Marnie, even if that name came from a brother, who couldn't say your parent-given name. May God continue to arm you for his service. Amen.

    1. I, too, don't get to reading these blogs on the day they are posted - or the comments, either, so I just saw your words of encouragement, Sharon. And I know you are not just "saying that." Thank you so much!


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