A bit of dialog on pain, pills and physicians is about on my Facebook, here and on a (real, face-to-face) friend’s blog. Over at Scratches, Uncle has an extreme perspective from his recurring and sometimes sudden bouts of intense head pain. The archives there have numerous powerful posts on pain.
Maybe it’s my decades of attending UU churches or maybe I’m a UU because I think this way. Regardless, as the cliche goes, adversity is a great teacher.
In the 11-plus days since my bike wreck, I’ve been thinking and feeling as I grimace, grunt and gasp. Sitting awake (lying is generally precludes rest or sleep), I have reflected on others as well as my miserable self. The ganged demons of incapacity, agony and immobility can turn us inward or outward.
Poor me is certainly an understandable response to disease or trauma. We can even cloak that in pretending that self-absorption is necessary to take care of ourselves, to get healthy or such.
Yet consider that in such times, we have gotten a house call from a guru. A great teacher appears and offers development. As we all tend to become more fixed day upon day and year upon year, we should welcome such visits. Big lessons keep us from what I consider the living hell of experiencing the same few days, thoughts and reactions again and again and again.
The freshness that comes with living with or working through or merely gutting out pain and fear is a gilded gift.
Of course, virtually all of us would avoid chronic or acute diseases, wrecks that wrack and break us, and the pains that come with them. When these are upon and in us, we do have a choice though. We can start and stop with the self-pity, or we can augment that with a compassion and even empathy for others who suffer.We can actually come out the other end with a better spirit.
I have never been mature or saintly enough to bypass the self-pity totally, but prolonged recoveries with great pain has taught me to identify with and respect the agony of others.
We must avoid the true coward’s alibi — people don’t change. Not only do our observation and anecdotal evidence firmly refute that, but we stifle ourselves pretending we become immutable at 18 or 40 or whatever we are.
Yes, we change. Sometimes it is by will and planning, others by events and conditions thrust upon us, and others by little enlightenments. Sometimes our brains just alert us to a fundamental truth. Discomfort to pain to agony, disease to surgery to broken bones, these and more can, if we allow, spur that enlightenment.
A lot of us experience the dreadful, which means whether you are there at the moment or not, you will encounter others in various kinds of pain. Transcending woe-is-me can round us out, smooth us off, and open us up. Those are good changes.