Pain is given, suffering is an option.
Words from a book I am reading by a woman who ended up working as a cook in a Bhuddist retreat. During the book, she tells about the events that led her to the place she is writing about. This quote is from a lesson during one of her early retreats.
I have experience with physical pain. I got stomach aches as a child that would make me sit down and get still because moving made them worse. I don’t remember why I didn’t say anything, I just learned how to endure.
In my late 20s, I was in a motorcycle wreck that broke several bones in my body. I had the benefit of good drugs then but again, I endured.
I had trouble with one of my hands several years later as a result of that accident and carpal tunnel was suspected. I was given a neurological test that involved sending jolts of electricity down the nerves to see if one was pinched, followed by a probe being stuck into the muscles of that hand. It hurt, a lot, but I didn’t cry or scream. The doctor was impressed and told me most people were in tears by the end.
Somewhere in there, I discovered if I get very still, the pain will diminish. I had a boyfriend who had hemophilia and dealt with severe pain, bleeding in the joints is common and that is one of the most painful conditions known to medicine. When he was hurting, he could retreat inside his mind far enough, he could go where the pain wasn’t. It reminded me of Mr Spock on Star Trek who could school his mind to not feel pain except Dennis would appear to be sleeping.
I had a hysterectomy a couple of years ago and surgery was complicated. The nurses and the doctor were impressed that I was up and walking by the second evening. The pain was there, but I endured.
This comment struck home because I am in pain again. I fell leaving work and fractured one elbow and popped a bone out of socket and may have cracked the other elbow, certainly sprained it. Things hurt. The ER scene was not pretty. There was screaming, hollering and demands for pain meds. The admitting nurse asked me on a scale if 1-10 what was my pain. I answered 10 and she looked at me like she didn’t believe me. We sat down. When I had to move again in a few minutes, I yelled and she started believing me. I left with a splint and good drugs.
When I saw the company paid doctor the next day, he decided I could return to work right then, I was not crying or screaming when he touched me so that meant it wasn’t that bad. He didn’t listen long enough to hear I had just taken 10 mg of hydrocodone and was knocked on my butt from that. And insisted on writing me prescriptions for more drugs. His job was to get me back to work at any cost.
Things are better though. I am experiencing pain still. When I move just wrong or the pills get close to wearing off it hurts. But I am not living inside the pain and suffering, letting it be the only thing i think about. I could choose to do that but that’s not who I am. I am enduring. I am taking only enough pain meds to be comfortable and I have an appointment with the orthopedist tomorrow to see where we go next.
I am in pain, but I choose not to suffer.