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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Your Dying Spouse 256 - Don't Hate The Pain

Pain hurts.

The "no pain, no gain" idiocy aside, it's at best a warning that you've pushed...or have been pushed...too far.

At worst it's simply an ordeal, a beating you have to endure until it stops.

Pain like that is an enemy. Right? Make it go away.

Well, not so fast.

What most doctors practice now is pain control, and not pain removal, and for good reason.

Pain's a natural part of the body's reaction to stress and injury. It's both a warning sign and a speed bump, which together tell you to be careful, and slow down.

In years past many a baseball pitcher with a sore arm took steroid injections to finish a season...and in so doing made unhealed damage worse, and lost his career.

For the terminally ill it is a bit different. I mean, it's kind of the last season anyway, so why not throw enough meds at the problem, and make it go away?

There are a couple of reasons, actually.

First, quality of life...yours and the patients. Powerful painkillers, taken in large dosages, start to change the personality, and I have been through this. I knew what was happening, and I knew I wasn't me.

Second, and also tied into quality of life, the side effects can be pretty unpleasant. Sleepiness is basic (and can even be welcome), but constipation is most certainly not welcome. The constipation narcotics can cause is the kind that leads to having to try to clear an impacted rectum on the spot, so to speak - a painful process with no little risk of infection, if the rectal wall is damaged. How do I know? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and I don't wear it).

Third, overdose is always a danger, as the stuff builds up in the system. OD-ing on the stuff is scary; it's nor just 'going to sleep'.

There's another reason not to totally kill off the pain, and it goes beyond the practical.

Pain can reveal the better part of ourselves.

I have found that when I'm hurting bad, I don't want anyone else to experience what I am going through. Not even the people I learned to loathe on a personal basis. I might hate them, but I would spare them this.

Pain, you see, can be the doorway to compassion.

And compassion can be the doorway to Salvation.

I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.

Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.


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  1. The next time I'm soldiering through another back injury, I'm going to remember your words about pain. And the truth is that if I did a better job listening to pain at the outset, I'd probably have fewer flare ups!

    1. I share that paradigm, Michele. For a long time I shouted down pain with machismo, and really paid the price.

      Thanks so much for being here!

  2. We don't always see this: "Pain can reveal the better part of ourselves." But it's true. People who have known pain are often more compassionate to others who have pain. I'm sorry you've had to know so much though, Andrew. Some people get more pain than their fair share. :(

    1. Lisa, it is indeed true, and I've come to regard what I go through as a salvation; the more I hurt, the more love and care I seem to have for people and animals. I wouldn't trade the perspective.

      I'm so grateful for your presence here.

  3. I love these words "Pain can be the better part of ourselves". Not the way most people would look at pain. Your perspective teaches me perseverance and humility in how you handle the challenges. Blessings!

    1. Mary, thank you so much for this kind and gracious comment. You made my day!

  4. You know a thing or two about pain, don't you, Andrew? Thank you for opening our eyes to those valleys and challenges we try to avoid. As always you inspire me and I'm so glad you're still here to talk with us each day, my sweet friend!

  5. Ah, you have some wise words here, Andrew. Pedro experienced a ton of pain that got increasingly worse--until he finally went to the doctor. Only to discover that he had cancer. Pain is NOT the enemy. It's important to pay attention to it. It could be telling us we need to seek a doctor or, if it's emotional pain, a good counselor!