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Health Update: I’m F**ked

bruce gerencser and jesus

I have gastroparesis, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis (I’ve typed these words so many times, autocorrect remembers them). In addition, over the past four months, I’ve had excruciating pain in the middle of my back, left side, and under my left arm, into my shoulder, and down my arm. The pain is so severe that it affects everything I do. Some days, I can hardly use my left arm (and I’m left-handed).

I had X-rays. Normal. CT scan. Normal. And now an MRI of my thoracic spine. NOT normal. I have:

  • Disc herniation (T7,T8)
  • Disc herniation (T6,T7)
  • Central spinal canal stenosis (T9/T10, T10/T11)
  • Foraminal stenosis (T5,T6)
  • Disc degeneration/spondylosis (T1/T2 through T10/T11)
  • Facet Arthropathy throughout the spine, particularly at T2/T3, T3/T4, T5/T6, and T7/T8 through the T12/L1 levels.
  • Hypertrophic arthropathy at T9/T10

I knew I had osteoarthritis arthritis in my spine. I have arthritis everywhere. Why I have these other problems is unknown. Genetics (my sister has similar problems)? Injury? Age-related deterioration? God’s judgment (I already know Evangelicals are thinking this)? Too much sex (you will have to ask Polly)? 🙂 Sports-related damage? There’s no way of knowing the exact cause. And it doesn’t matter. Knowing the cause won’t change the fact that I have excruciating pain in the middle of my back.

My primary care doctor called me this morning to give me the MRI results. I could tell by his voice that the results were not good. He’s been my doctor for twenty-six years. Doc has literally watched me physically deteriorate over the years (he calls me an enigma — something that baffles understanding and can’t be explained). He genuinely cares about me and wants to alleviate my suffering. Unfortunately, there’s little he can do except treat the pain. Doc referred me to a pain management doctor in Fort Wayne. Hopefully, I will get in to see him soon.

After Doc gave me the verdict, I replied, in my gallows humor way, “I’m fucked.” He chuckled a bit — we’re friends — and then he reminded me of a scene in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles; the scene where Steve Martin repeatedly uses the F word.

Video Link

Today, I feel fucked. Hopefully, the pain doctor will help me feel less fucked soon.

It is what it is, but the spinning plate that I call life is overflowing. I’d pray if there were a God, but since there’s not, all I can do is endure. As I ponder my suffering, I am reminded that it could be worse. My friend, Eric, died several weeks ago from pancreatic cancer. In less than a year, he went from enjoying life with his grandchildren to excruciating pain and death. I have another friend who contracted COVID-19 before the vaccines were available. She’s in her forties. She had a stroke, heart problems, and had to have eye surgery. I’m concerned that she could end up blind. It is unlikely that she will ever work again. I have another dear friend, Tammy, who also contracted COVID. She was a spry, outgoing psychiatric nurse, that is until COVID left her incapacitated. She’s now on permanent disability. I could go on and on. Like it or not, suffering is part of our lives. Few people will escape this life without suffering at one point or another. It’s just the way it is.

Oh, did I tell you about the rash I have; that is so itchy I want to get out a butter knife and scratch myself to death? True story . . . years ago, Polly came home from work and found me in the middle of the floor, scratching my arms and legs with a butter knife. I had had a painful gallbladder attack that caused me to break out in hives. Thank the Gods for butter knives. And Benadryl. And corticosteroids.

I do have one bit of good news: I am retaking generic Lyrica. It is quite effective for the nerve pain in my legs. In fact, I now have NO nerve pain in my legs. In the past, taking Lyrica has caused weight gain, so much so that I had to stop taking the drug (twice). Gastroparesis has dramatically altered my physiology. I thought maybe my body would react differently to Lyrica this time. So far, no weight gain. Can I get an AMEN? And for that, I am grateful. Grateful to whom? Not God, that’s for sure. Loki? Maybe. 🙂 It is science that courses through my veins, lessening the pain in my legs. All praise be to science, the only God that makes its presence known.

Thank you for your continued love and support. Your kind words mean the world to me.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

63 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Kel

    Dear Bruce,

    I’m really really sad hearing this. I know I would have never survived (mentally at least), if I were in your (or Eric’s, Tammy’s, or your other friend’s) shoes.
    You have endured much indeed, with lots of dignity. I have never encountered any gratuitous whining in any of your posts (health-related or otherwise).

    I don’t know what else to say (I know you hate empty platitudes), but I’d like to thank you again for continuing to write despite all the suffering.

    Hope you will return soon, with your left arm, to write more delightfully “sinister” posts.

    Best wishes from me, Bruce.

  2. Avatar
    amimental

    So much to deal with. I have no wise words and even if I did, words aren’t going to help. But I’m sorry that you’ve been hit with all of this. And I so appreciate your candor and your smart assy attitude, which I suspect you have always had. 🙂

  3. Avatar
    Tammy Schoch

    Yup. Long Covid is real and it’s now over a year for me. Most of the time I’m hopeful, as I’m thrilled to be alive, and more than half the time I’m thrilled to have no pain. With decades of asthma in my history I wasn’t sure if I could avoid the ventilator. Amazingly covid hit me hard but not in my lungs. At least not in a way that felt like asthma or required the hospital. I did have tachycardia and low pulse ox readings with exertion for many months. At first walking from couch to bathroom was enough exertion to drop my pulse ox below 90 and shoot my pulse from 60 to 140.

    That’s now in my past, along with about a dozen other symptoms. What I’m left with is constant fatigue and intermittent pain. I’m barely able to do the housework and cooking. My husband continues to do all outdoor work and all errands/shopping.

    I continue to hope for further recovery. The trajectory is in the right direction. But I can’t see improvements from week to week or even from month to month. I have to look back 3-4 months to encourage myself with a few improvements in my condition.

    I’m 59. I had planned to work until about 64, and then continue part time here and there. I loved the 3 semesters when I moonlighted as a psych nursing clinical instructor. I wanted years of that. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to work again.

    At this point I’m too sick to travel big distances by car or plane. If one of my elderly parents dies, they know I can’t make it to their funeral. We’ve discussed it.

    I’m lucky to be in a state pension system since 2010, the source of my disability payments. As a part of that system, I’m required to also apply for SSDI because they could lower some of their cost if some could come from social security instead. I just found out that my first application for SSDI was denied. They think I can work. It’s so ridiculous but I don’t even care what they think. Our country is so screwed up with bureaucracy and I carry no emotional burden from their determination of my supposed abilities. If you’re healthy or if you’re dying quickly you get all kinds of support in America. If you’re sick, but not dead, but also not getting better, nobody knows what to do with you.

    (State pension system supplies me with full support for this SSDI application process, which has been a wonderful help. It’s not over. Many more steps are required to appeal etc)

    In many ways I’m so lucky. I have income. My mind is sharp. I have health insurance. My husband takes great care of me. I’m slowly recovering, unlike my friend Bruce.

    But the grieving process sucks. I’ve lost so much. Career, travel, health, active stuff I did with my grandsons, ability to plan ahead and not cancel plans because of symptoms. I honestly feel a few decades older than I did one year ago.

    Why am I sharing all this? Primarily for one reason – go get your damned covid vaccination! I’m sick to death of hearing excuses. I’m running out of empathy for those who can get the vaccine and choose not to. (Yes I know some people can’t. It’s a tiny percentage. I’m not mad at them. I get it.)

    Yes I enjoyed the olympics opening ceremony. Yes I think they should have cancelled them. My mind is sharp so I keep up with the science of this pandemic while resting all the time. To sum it up:

    The pandemic is not over
    Unvaccinated people should still be masking, distancing, avoiding crowds.
    Vaccinated people should also be avoiding crowds
    We need 80% vaccinated, kids vaccinated, and low case numbers before gathering indoors in groups

    I’m appalled at what’s happening with our country opening up, traveling for fun, vacations via air with no vaccines, full house sporting events, etc etc. Have we learned nothing?

    I hope Bruce doesn’t mind me using his platform for a vaccine soapbox. If so he can delete this comment. We’re friends from way back and it’s impossible for him to offend me.

    • Avatar
      Barbara L. Jackson

      I hope the best for Tammy and Bruce. I am most worried about Bruce but as my husband (who has taken care of me when necessary) my fussing does not fix anything. But people should care about each other. That’s what creates a human society.

      I completely agree with Tammy about vaccines. My husband and I have had both our shots. I do not know how to convince people that a virus does not listen to religious or political views. It is a piece of RNA and other people can be hurt a lot by people’s weird views about vaccines.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Thanks, Tammy, for sharing your story. If you ever want to tell it in long form, please let me know and I will publish it on this site.

      Much ❤️ to you and Jim.

      Bruce

  4. Avatar
    William

    I am on a burnout from stress which has also manifested itself in physical symptoms. For some days I have been done, physically and mentally that I have barely been able to stay awake. This morning I woke up and felt a little better.

    I am just sharing this with you because no matter how dark the day seems, there is always the hope and reality that we can feel better tomorrow, and we can enjoy the little moments of life when they happen.

    Peace mate 🖖

  5. Avatar
    sjl1701

    Bruce, it’s for people like you I wish for magical powers to be able to restore you body to health. Alas Gandalf, Harry Potter and Dr. Strange are all as fictional as their powers. Cyber hugs and best wishes are all I can offer.

  6. Avatar
    ... Zoe ~

    Amen? (Hard to do with that report.) :/

    There’s something you just did here that I think you tend to do a lot. Even if it seems the littlest positive thing, you mention it. Like the Lyrica helping. Maybe it is common for those living with chronic illnesses and pain. We look for and become aware of the one (or more) positive things that show up in any given day of our fuckery. Tammy did it too in her response. I do it too. It’s knowing we’re fucked but we also know there is a spectrum. In therapy I was told not to minimize my pain. Not to compare it to others. The thing is, I don’t do it really in order to minimize my pain. I do it to be a realist. In other words, realistically I’m fucked. However, realistically, I am not that fucked. I’m just fucked.

    Bruce, I’m sorry. I truly am amazed at your perseverance in continuing to share your story, to identify with so many people. To be a source of encouragement and support because you’ve been there, done that . . . and, you get it. <3

  7. Avatar
    Obstaclechick

    Bruce, I amsorfy you’re suffering. That’s all I know to say. Your hat is funny though! You always manage to maintain your sense of humor!

  8. Avatar
    Jerri Love

    I’m grateful to have become acquainted with you and send many good thoughts.

    My mother suffers from chronic pain from a debilitating stroke 30+ years ago and she has osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis, as well. It’s fucking agony for her, and for us as we watch her suffer. So many times she’s told me she feels like god must still have something she needs to learn or else she would’ve been healed. I’ve just said that seems a terribly cruel way to teach and maybe it just is what it is. 💔

    My heart aches for all of you in physical pain and agony and for folks, like me, who suffer mostly in emotional torment.

    https://youtu.be/NIuyDWzctgY

  9. Avatar
    Steve Ruis

    Bruce, I am glad you are getting some relief from your pain. And, I am glad you are thanking those actually responsible for helping you with your health problems. It is a good thing you no longer believe in God, because then you’d have to accept that God was punishing you and, the question ‘Why?” would dominate your thinking. By not believing, all of that nonsense rolls away and actual relief is possible (none of which needs to be declared a miracle).

    Hang in there, Bruce, you are obviously needed!

  10. Avatar
    Bob

    I have written to you a few times and stopped commenting because in my opinion, you disect every word written. I felt it was not worth my effort or time, I did try hard to have legitimate conversations through.

    I have wanted to write one last time to respond on some things you have posted but many of those thoughts have faded because they were not acted on at the time, so this will be just about a couple things.

    I asked about your wife and her religious views now. You gave a great answer, not only of her, but your kids and you wanted to respect their privacy, I’m not sure where she is ultimately at, but I would find it odd, if you both came to the same conclusion that there is no God. Especially with her background and with what I am sure was a life fully dedicated to Christ.

    A couple of your posts were very heartfelt and showed the deep relationship that you and Polly have, as well as your family and grandchildren.

    I think my biggest take away with all this was not the fact that you left the ministry, but you became an atheist. Part of me was bewildered by that, part of me said no surprise, part of me said, this guy is out of his mind.

    I was interested in a minister turned atheist because I myself had headed down the ministerial road. I stopped that path for many reasons, I read stats on ministers that leave the ministry, get divorced and end up on getting the short stick at times.My conclusion was, I am not interested in any of that.

    I decided to maintain my secular job and volunteer in the church as I go. I’m not sure the church of today operates the way Jesus intended, but this is where we the chuch is at, so I am not going to walk away from it because I believe God is still working in his People as the Body of Christ.

    I know you have heard every reason in the world on why you made the radical change you made, so mine will most likely go the the pile of, Another Christian Prospective on why Bruce turned away from God. Hey, just my opinion as a human to another human.

    So here it goes.

    You were brought up and lived the Christian life you were “supposed to live”. You did everything that you felt the Bible said to do, what the church said to do and what your leadership said as well. You were sold out 100% to God and preaching the salvation of Jesus. You did everything you thought was the right thing to do. You also sacrificed everything, including your well being, your family, your health, your wife, your enjoyment of life, the life you wish you had lived.

    What did you get in return? Good and bad church experiences, hurt, if not crushed by Christians, friends, leadership, poor health and a, how did I end up here in life.

    Then one day you say, enough is enough. Click, you are done. Don’t need you people, dont need you church, don’t need you God. To be honest, I’m not sure I can blame you.

    You will say, oh I was questioning what I believed in all along, but I think the above drove you to that reasoning. I believe you had been hurt and hurt so deeply that this was your of dealing with it. I gave all to God, and this is where I am at?

    My ministry experience, which is a small percentage of what you have done, broght me to a spiritual desert for 2 or 3 years. I did make it through, but there were two things that God showed and changed the path of my Christian life.

    One, was unforgiveness that I had towards some people, against church and why my life was where it was at.

    The other was that I came to the realization that even though I had been serving the Lord faithfully since the age of 15, I had live much of that Christian life on my own personal power and not ultimately just living a life and letting God direct my path. For 30 yeras, Am I being good enough, have I served enough, do I love Jesus enough,.and I telling others enough and it just keeps going on and on.

    Once I accepted who I was and decided to go live my life, my life was less stressful and more fulfilling. I now look at each new day and give God thanks. I try and love and help others with what can offer them.

    Know this though, that I am very sorry for the health issues you have. I know you have said, don’t pray for me, but I will confess that I have prayed for you a few times, sorry,

    You say that you would pray if there was a God. Hey, maybe the fact I am writing all this means that he hasn’t let you go completely, but that will be your ultimate decision on whether to call out to Him.

    I will say in closing, that I chose to believe in Jesus Christ and God the Father and this is your choice as well. it’s my job or anyone sees to convince you of that, it’s up to you to decide for yourself.

    As I said, this will be my last correspondence, but I do wish you and your family the best. And yes, this is coming from a fully devoted follower of Christ.

    Bob

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Are you calling Polly a liar?

      Do you think psychoanalyzing me is appropriate? What qualifications do you have to do so?

      Bruce is a failure, Bob is a success. Be like Bob, right?

      I’m not sure what you hoped to accomplish by your most certainly fucking last comment.

      Imagine your spouse telling you how sick she is and why. And you respond to her like you did me. Would she view your comment as helpful? I doubt it. I don’t understand why you decided to shit on my doorstep on this post — a very open, vulnerable post. Do you understand how this makes you look? Yeah, I know, I either misunderstood your words or I’m “dissecting every word you’ve written.”

      Now fuck off.

      Bruce

      • Avatar
        Bob

        No, I did not call Polly a liar.

        I am not calling you a liar, just asking questions and throwing out thoughts. And nothing says I have to believe you, we are supposed to have the right to our own opinions. There are a lot of people that live in denial. Maybe you are one of them, maybe not.

        I did not call you a failure. I am no better than you as a human being. I am a Christian you are not and that does not make me a better pwrson than you either.

        I just gave my opinion of what I think could have taken place ministry wise, but you don’t allow opinions from others. I know some Christians throw all the fire and brimstone verses at you and I did not do that. I just like to dig deeper to the root of the issue and some people don’t like that. You seem to love to hate Christians, no matter what stance or comment they make. You over analyze every word looking to solidify your position. Anyone can do that, that’s what the news does everyday spin things to their point of view.

        Whatever Bruce, you said fire away and I honestly was saying what I have been thinking about with reading your blogs over time, because a blog is where you are supposed to be able to throw thoughts out and gain more understanding. That doesn’t seem to work here though.

        Think what you will Bruce, I really do wish you and your family the best and I am sorry for what you are dealing with healthwise.

        I will not bother you again.

        • Avatar
          Bruce Gerencser

          “No, I did not call Polly a liar.”

          Yes, you did. I’ve mentioned her beliefs numerous times. You chose to ignore what I said. Instead, you question whether Polly is telling the truth. Lesson for Bob: take people at face value. When my wife or I tell our stories, believe us. Who better knows our lives than us?

          “I am not calling you a liar, just asking questions and throwing out thoughts. “

          No, you are making ill-informed judgements. Besides, what in your words had anything to do with the subject of this post? Hint: nothing.

          “And nothing says I have to believe you, we are supposed to have the right to our own opinions.”

          And nothing says I have to post your character assassinations. You violated the comment policy, by the way.

          Yes, you have a right to your own opinions. Wise is the man who knows to keep them to himself unless asked. This post was a health update, not an invitation for you to psychoanalyze me and tell me the “real” reasons I deconverted. Compare your comment to others on this post. See a difference?

          “There are a lot of people that live in denial. Maybe you are one of them, maybe not. I did not call you a failure. “

          Jesus Fucking Christ, Bob, yes you did. Note your passive-aggressive words — the not so subtle “many people [you Bruce] live in denial.

          I am one of the most open, honest writers you will find. I’ve cracked open my life and let thousands and thousands and thousands of people peer in (4+ million page views since December 2014, and I had several widely read blogs before that). I periodically take questions from readers, and anyone can email me or send me a message on social media.

          Yet, despite all of this, you think I’m either lying, obfuscating the truth, or “living in denial.”

          “I just gave my opinion of what I think could have taken place ministry wise, but you don’t allow opinions from others. “

          Sure, I do. Just read the comments.

          I have repeatedly and throughly and honestly told my story, including the seasons why I left the ministry in 2005 and left Christianity in 2008. You, it seems, don’t believe me.

          “You seem to love to hate Christians, no matter what stance or comment they make.”

          sigh There’s the persecution complex butthurt Christians have.

          “You over analyze every word looking to solidify your position.”

          There’s no position to solidify, Bob. We are talking about my story and your unwillingness to accept it at face value.

          Yes, Bob, words. That’s how we communicate.

          “Whatever Bruce, “

          Whatever, the word used by people, often children, who refuse to listen or don’t care what someone is saying.”

          “you said fire away and I honestly was saying what I have been thinking about with reading your blogs over time, because a blog is where you are supposed to be able to throw thoughts out and gain more understanding. That doesn’t seem to work here though. “

          Are you the obtuse, Bob. You posted your bullshit on a post about my health. Can’t you see how inappropriate your comment was? Read the other comments. You might learn something about how to comment appropriately.

          “Think what you will Bruce, I really do wish you and your family the best and I am sorry for what you are dealing with healthwise. I will not bother you again.”

          Man shits on your front porch and then apologizes for stepping on your grass.

          I’ll take you at your word, Bob: “I will not bother you again.”

        • Avatar
          Kel

          Bob, I’m not Bruce and I’m not in any way speaking for him.

          I think the problem with your comment is that you are telling Bruce and Polly what their motivation and innermost thoughts must be like without actually living inside their head. That is rather condescending.

          Bruce has repeatedly explained, in great details, his version of his own story. But you’re saying that it can’t be true. Yes, you qualify your statements – “what could have taken place ministry wise” – but everything came across, at least to me, as pure disbelief. “You can’t be telling the truth or you must be delusional” – that’s how it sounded to me. And that’s disrespectful.

          Probably it feels the same if an atheist insinuates that the reason you are a Christian is because deep down you’re afraid of hell, and not because you truly love God. Must be the real reason, you’re just not owning it.
          Or that the reason why your family is Christian can be purely explained by geography and that your children could not have come to faith if not for your indoctrination.
          I think it doesn’t feel great having such comments thrown at you.

          • Avatar
            Kel

            And the likelihood that two individuals came to a similar conclusion independently is as high as – if not way higher than – the likelihood that ten out of ten children in a religious family would share their parents’ faith due to being independently enlightened/convinced with no familial/social pressures whatsoever.

        • Avatar
          William

          Bob, what is it about the bible that gives you the feeling you have the right opinion on everything. Is it because you believe that the Spiritus Sancti lives inside you and therefore everything you feel is right as that is you being led and that we know nothing because we are not saved? Don’t you think someone who thinks and acts like a know it all is offensive… yet you feel you have the right?

          In the bible Jesus would ask people what they thought and listen. Even in the garden of Eden God called out to Adam to ask him rather than assuming (even although the bible says God knows everything). Why can’t you and evangelicals like you follow the very example of behaviour like this from your book? Instead of assuming you know better than everyone else about everything including themself?

        • Avatar
          Sage

          Hi Bob,

          You are a prime example of why I detest almost all christians. This “I care for you and know what you feel and need” bullshit approach you and others use to proselytize your particular christian viewpoint is one of the things I hate most. There are many different viewpoints here on this blog, and some here still hold christian viewpoints that allow them to respect others and even care for them, without being a preacher this predatory salvation message that you use. Sadly, the vast majority of christians are like you

          You are typical of so many christians. You see someone talk about their health issues, and you swoop in like a vulture to take advantage. You sense people may be vulnerable because of health or personal issues, and you peddle this christian bullshit, tearing them down, belittling them, scaring them, guilting them, until they feel so hopeless that they fall into your talons.

          Most christians are either predatory preachers, or they scurry around the predators to grab the victims and drag them deeper. Even if all they do is stand and watch, they are still part of the problem.

          Christians like you offer no real help, they only offer judgement and condemnation. Christian offer prayers, but no real assistance. Its much easier to judge, condemn, evangelize and pray than it is to go help the person who needs help. I say it constantly, and it remains true, most christians are all talk, no action.

          • Avatar
            BJW

            Sage, so true. It’s so easy for a Christian to say “I send thoughts and prayers” as if that is meaningful. Well, meaningless unless they immediately get up and take positive actions to help others. And by positive action, I mean the opposite of Bob…being a true friend, listening to the hurting, donating to help others, trying to be a true force of good in this world. Instead, these type Christians have shown all they care about is being judgmental and gleeful, “Repent or you’ll go to hell.” No wonder these movements are shrinking, as they offer nothing to the world except words.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      You said, “I know you have heard every reason in the world on why you made the radical change you made, so mine will most likely go the the pile of, Another Christian Prospective on why Bruce turned away from God. “

      How about you let me tell my own story? I’ve shared the “why” countless times. Don’t you believe me? Are you calling me a liar too?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      By the way, you seemed to miss the fact that I left the ministry three years before I deconverted.

      I’m sorry you lived your Christian life in “your own power.” I did not do so. But, you think I did, right? Look up passive-aggressive I the dictionary. And then honestly judge your words in this comment.

    • Avatar
      BJW

      Bob, only a bad person would bring your load of uncaring bullshit to Bruce. But you just show us that not ONE of you fundies/evangelicals has a smidgen of kindness, caring, or empathy. You don’t worship a loving god, but a mean one, that lets you feel like you can be condescending to a man who is in horrible pain and suffering. Funny how the bible talks about the sheep and goats, well, guess what, you’re on the side of the goats.

      • Avatar
        Astreja

        It’s so typical of fundies like Bob that they open fire with hateful, lying, condescending crap and then refuse to own it when they’re called out for it. They’re petulant little brats who live in a narrow, shallow, all-or-nothing us-versus-them world ruled by a tyrannical daddy figure, and want to drag us down to their level.

        They don’t do compassion. They don’t do nuance. All they have is “I’m right and you’re wrong” as they revel in the self-appointed role of God’s Representative™, and they care more about losing face than about the people they hurt with their words.

        If these are “the fruits of the Spirit,” then the Spirit’s one fucking lousy gardener.

  11. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Bruce—When I saw the title of this post, I pictured Evangelical trolls searching Google for Bible verses you’ve read a thousand times before. Your suffering is proof (to me, anyway) that there is no justice from their God.

    More important, though: I wish I could heal your pain. Really. I don’t believe anyone “deserves “ it (an attitude I came to, by the way, after leaving behind my allegiance to religion and belief in God), and that if anyone deserves anything, you deserve an easier time.

    Tammy—I see why Bruce counts you as a friend. He doesn’t tolerate bullshit, and you seem incapable of it. You and William seem like role models for all of us!

  12. Avatar
    BJW

    Bruce, there are no words to express how sorry I am. But you’ve inspired so many. I just hope you do get the best pain drugs. Glad you have a caring family doctor. Glad you have Polly.

  13. Avatar
    thatotherjean

    Oy! The mess that is your back is affecting so much more of your body. I have to agree with you: for now, at least, you’re fucked. I hope some of it can be un-fucked soon, so it all hurts less. Between the pain-management specialist and the Lyrica for the neuropathy in your legs, I hope you get to feeling better. In the meantime, thank you for continuing to write. What you have to say means a lot to a great many people. All best wishes.

  14. Avatar
    ... Zoe ~

    Bob: “I asked about your wife and her religious views now. You gave a great answer, not only of her, but your kids and you wanted to respect their privacy, I’m not sure where she is ultimately at, but I would find it odd, if you both came to the same conclusion that there is no God. Especially with her background and with what I am sure was a life fully dedicated to Christ.”

    Zoe: Bob, this is so incredibly insulting to Bruce and Polly. Triggering also to those who have suffered trauma as a result of Christians hurling about their spiritual abuse and flinging their so-called Holy Spirit discernment our way.

    Do you think you are the first one to hint that it’s Bruce’s fault Polly is now lost?

    Do you know what the term ‘gaslighting’ means? Look it up.

    Polly made a decision of her own accord and even so, other’s (in their lives and here on this blog) made up their own minds about what really happened. Taking away her own voice and her own autonomy.

    If I remember correctly, Bruce’s own family as well as Polly’s blamed Bruce for her deconversion. Though Bruce has shared deeply, openly and honestly, I suspect (as is the case for some others here) that we can’t know the number of people who have thrown this old canard at him/us. -> ‘Your fault Bruce. Poor Polly. Dear soul.’

    I think you haven’t a clue how insulting this is to Polly.

  15. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    When Evangelicals hear that you or a member of your family were once, but are no longer, believers, their responses tend to fall into one of these categories:

    A.) You were doing it all wrong. Here’s the right way to pray/read the Bible.

    B.) You never really were a Christian.

    C.) You have been deceived/ You are willfully turning your back on the Lord.

    D.) Once saved, always saved. You’ll be back.

    They almost invariably follow up with Bible verses you’ve read a thousand times before (and that Bruce has included in his sermons). And they warn you of your impending damnation unless you do as they say—or they say, in that ever-so-condescending tone, “I’ll pray for you.”

    “Bob” did just about everything on my list. I guess that’s an accomplishment.

    Bruce and Tammy— I wish only that I could ease your suffering—and that if I ever experience anything like it, I handle it as well as you do!

  16. Avatar
    ... Zoe ~

    Bob: “I just gave my opinion of what I think could have taken place ministry wise, but you don’t allow opinions from others. “

    Zoe: Just not true Bob. Are you aware of the constant barrage of “opinions” he has put up with?

    Bob: “I have written to you a few times and stopped commenting because in my opinion, you disect every word written. I felt it was not worth my effort or time, I did try hard to have legitimate conversations through.”

    Zoe: I got this far on you initial comment here and I thought, ‘Oh Bob. Back it up. Not the place or the time.’ Since you’re into “opinions” I share mine.

    You made this post all about you.

    It’s a post about Bruce’s health.

    It doesn’t matter what you think of your former interactions with Bruce.

    It. doesn’t. matter.

    It doesn’t matter that you question the authenticity of his story &/or Polly’s.

    It doesn’t matter that you can’t wrap your head around him leaving his former belief system and settling on the term “atheist” to describe what he doesn’t believe in.

    Your testimony doesn’t matter.

    All of it and none of it belong in the comment section of this post.

  17. Avatar
    dale m.

    Bob ……

    You know what Cubans of the communist persuasion do when they find out one of their flock, since birth, suddenly gets this inclination that their communist faith no longer makes sense to them ?!? Especially when they attempt to emigrate to the U.S.A. ?!?

    They think the man/ woman is stark mad. This is because the communist persuasion was drilled into them like a bloody religion with absolute certainties. They don’t shoot them when they try to leave. They don’t throw them into a gulag. They don’t chain them into forced labor.

    What they do is harass them relentlessly. They shame them by organizing their neighbors, friends, employers and schools against them. They’re pretty broken by the time they leave. They tell them that hell is waiting for them when the capitalists pig dogs are turned loose on them. They’ll be turned into drug dealers and absorbed by criminal gangs. Every scare tactic they can think of (all false). The poor wretched folk who want to get away must leave everything behind. Having never been there themselves, they really don’t know what to expect. They all have to run that gauntlet of broken faith.

    When they do finally escape to tell their story in the (U.S.A.), they are finally exposed to all the falsehoods they left behind. They’re angry. They would like to go back to help others escape. Some feel it is their duty to do so. But they can’t. Those little hermit kingdoms with their iron curtains of faith are everywhere and close ranks shielding their unfortunate folk from ever learning what is truly out there.

    So. Next best thing. They become bloggers. But the communist faithful send out their tentacles to try to snare them back in. You really have to be super-courageous to stand against that. It’s much easier to stay in the faith and not question anything inside your hermit kingdoms.

    So Bob. Stop trying to imitate a F**KING COMMIE !!!!! Because that’s how you come across.

  18. Avatar
    Emersonian

    My sincere condolences on the loss of your friend, Bruce. Here’s hoping the Ft. Wayne doc can address some of your pain management in a useful way.

  19. Avatar
    Michael Mock

    I sincerely hope the docs can find some effective pain relief for you, old friend.

    And, Bob? I realize you were posting with good intentions, but intentions aren’t magic; they don’t stop you from being an asshole, and that’s exactly what you were actually doing.

  20. Avatar
    leigh

    1) That hat though 😁
    2) I have a genetic skin condition that along with other effects, leaves me with dry and constantly itchy skin. I wouldn’t dare for one second to be so pretentious as to say I understand what you must be going through with anything else, but on the itchy/rash thing I got you. (My current favorite scratching implement is the lid of the anti-itch cream tube.)
    3) I’m so sorry you’re fucked. I’m glad that at least one med is really helping, and that you have good doctors. I’m extra glad you have Polly (and she has you).

  21. Avatar
    Charles S. Oaxpatu

    Hi Bruce. Thanks for sharing how you think and feel about so many things (physical and nonphysical). The greatest injustice that I could do to you would be to say that “I know how you feel.” Fact is—–I do not. How could i? I do not share all of your health problems within myself—-just a few shared in common. I only know what you tell me about yourself, and I have no reason to doubt your words because you are very much consciously in touch with your mental, emotional, and physical life— far more so than most other people on this planet. I sincerely hope you will find some relief from your pain soon.

    When did Lyrica go generic? I did not know that this had happened. Does the generic form still cost an arm and a leg, even with insurance, like the Lyrica brand name did? How much does a one-month supply cost you? I may need to switch over to this generic at some point for the nerve pain in my feet and lower legs.

    Bob. You are a real piece of work. One Mainline Christian to a fundie, people like you give Jesus a bad name. Why must you incessantly torture a sick man with your words. Maybe you could just quit it and go get a life somewhere—-a real life.

    • Avatar
      BJW

      Charles, the generic form of Lyrica is pregabalin. My son takes it for his fibromyalgia pain. Now the insurance company is being difficult. However, if insurance is a problem, you could investigate using GoodRx.com. I noticed the the amount my son takes would cost around $20.00/month. You can go to the GoodRx website and it will help nail down different prices in your area, if insurance is a problem.

      I use gabapentin instead of Lyrica. It’s even cheaper but is good for my fibro pain. My son is taking the generic Lyrica because he is sicker than I am.

  22. Avatar
    Infidel753

    Very sorry to hear the bad news. I hope the doctor in Fort Wayne can help you. Please don’t feel obligated to keep putting your energy into the blog any more than you feel comfortable with. Your contribution has already been immense.

    I guess some of the evangelical vultures just can’t stop jabbing at you with their weary, arrogant clichés, even on a post like this. You have far more patience than most people would.

  23. Avatar
    Astreja

    Bruce, I hope the wait to see the specialist in Ft. Wayne is a very short one. Took one look at the MRI report and went “Holy crap…” (I typed radiology reports for three years, and then neurology and physiatry reports for more than a decade after that.)

    (raises a mug of mead to Polly)

    And Tammy, thanks for advocating for COVID vaccines. That’s the soapbox we should all be standing on right now. May your recovery continue.

  24. Avatar
    Sage

    Bruce, I am sorry to hear about your array of problems. It is good you see glimmers of hope, and can still keep some positivity, and hopefully that all leads to some improvement. It is so wonderful that you have Polly there who stands by you and gives you the support and strength you need. Its hard for me to comprehend what you must endure each day. The idea that you can think of others while you deal with your challenges shows your strength and character. I do hope you can find some of the relief you seek.

  25. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Greetings Bruce! Chronic somatic suffering is one of most challenging things some of us must endure in life. I have been fortunate to avoid it for the most part in my life and will perhaps see 70 next year! Your list of challenges floors me and the thing about each one is that they are not separate but piled on all together. When someone says they are considering bringing a second child into their family, I think of that as not a second child alone but a child to the power of 2! Diagnoses are like that and you have way too fucking many!
    I think of you every day and consider you a dear man, a friend over the distance. Your life lived here, shared here, brings me insight, encouragement and humour too. Laughter is good dope and your dope is great!
    We are sitting here in B.C. in smoke and have received an evacuation alert because one of hundreds of B.C. fires is only 6 km distant.
    Yesterday they brought in a hundred firefighters to try and get the two week old, out of control blaze to cooperate. Reading of your ongoing suffering reminds me of this out of control burning and how precious every day is… I keep working in the garden, weed the potatoes and corn, beets, peppers and so forth. There’s shite in the world that goes around and comes around. I wish yours more going, more and more going and not coming back around to harm you. As Sage said above, may you find some relief!
    Much love to you and Polly from firey B.C.!

    • Avatar
      BJW

      Brian, I’m sorry to hear about the fire. I have family in Oregon and it’s been much hotter there and drier than in Ohio, which I find amazing and not in a good way. And in BC? That floors me. So be safe.

    • Avatar
      MJ Lisbeth

      Brian. I am sorry that you are so close to the fires. Stay safe! It amazes me that in BC, you’ve had hotter weather than we’ve experienced in NYC.

      I just wish the trolls who prowl this site could hold in some of their hot air. That pollution can’t be good for Bruce’s, or anyone’s, health.

  26. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    I will have to say that I do really hate the morons who attack modern medicine and have caused things to be worse. Too bad we can’t suck the life force out of these idiots and give it to people like Bruce, et al.

  27. Avatar
    Ann Lo

    It’s no fun to be fucked and chronic pain stinks six ways from Sunday. My utmost sympathies. I hope the pain management doctor provides you some relief.

  28. Avatar
    theologyarchaeology

    I doubt it is God’s justice as you would have been given a chance to repent first to avoid it. Read Jonah. Plus, you will meet his judgment soon. I am sad to see your attitude in all of this. It certainly is the wrong one to have. One thing is for sure, you are vulnerable to certain aspects of life that are not very kind to humans, evil spirits do take their toll on the health of humans.

    I do not rejoice in your suffering

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I need to amend my previous comment: Bob and David Tee.

      According to Prophet Tee, I’m demon possessed and I’m going to die soon. Is this a death threat, David? Are to going to exact judgment on me?

      If you outlive me, I can only imagine —cue MercyMe — what you will write about me after I die. You may not “rejoice” outwardly, but you sure as hell will do so in your cold, shriveled heart. I can imagine you dancing a jig in your addled mind upon hearing of my death. “Ding dong, the wicked Bruce is dead.”

      Look at all the kind, decent, thoughtful, caring comments on this post. And then there is yours and Bob’s. Contrast the two, David. These comments speak volumes about the people who wrote them.

    • Avatar
      Kel

      Dear Dr. Tee,

      If evils spirits are the cause of illnesses, how about those devout Christians who suffer from physical and mental illnesses, even to the point of despairing for their own life? And I have to preemptively disagree if you’re going to say that they are not true Christians.

      And not everyone is given a second chance. Certainly not Ananias, not Sapphira, not Uzzah who touched the Ark of The Covenant by mistake, not the Israelites struck dead by plague caused by David’s census mistake.

    • Avatar
      ... Zoe ~

      You remind me of my former “best friend” who told me I didn’t have Crohn’s disease but secret sin in my heart and if I’d just confess my secret sin in my heart I’d not have so-called Crohn’s disease.

      Speaking of “wrong” “attitudes” theologyarchaeology, take a moment to look in the mirror.

    • Avatar
      GeoffT

      To anyone in the UK, and certainly over a certain age, mention of the name ‘Bob’ means just one thing: Blackadder aka Rowan Atkinson. If you don’t know the series and fancy being cheered up, they’re a belly full of laughs (if you can access them).

      https://youtu.be/G1QywDPkDjg

      • Avatar
        Kel

        Geoff, I watched the first episode of Blackadder on Netflix and it was golden! I think I should get back to it. Rowan Atkinson is one of my absolute favourites (along with Barry Humphries).

      • Avatar
        Astreja

        My personal favourite is the Blackadder III episode with the two superstitious actors doing the, um, “Scottish play.”

        Mr. Bean is also some wonderful work by Rowan Atkinson (his encounter with a Christmas creche is one of the best), and he also does fantastic stand-up.

        • Avatar
          Kel

          Mr. Bean was hugely popular in my (non-English-speaking) country. Probably because he managed to be funny without saying anything! Some aspects of humour seem to be universal.
          My favourite was the episode when he invited his neighbours over for New Year’s Eve.
          He ran out of white wine so he served his hapless guests vinegar sweetened with spoonfuls of sugar.

          I watched a short skit he did, impersonating Satan. He said, “Christians…(pause). I am afraid that the Jews were right.”

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Bruce Gerencser