Thursday, 6 February 2014

Thankful Thursday: Pain

Frances recently posted Pain: out of ten.  Like many of Frances's posts it has elicited quite a lot of interesting information.  It made me think too about the pain suffered by those around me.  I shall stick to the subject of physical pain: chronic and acute.

I know a number of people who suffer from severe pain: my brother CJ who has a neuropathological (or is it neurological) condition being one closest to me.  He suffers from constant chronic and from acute pain which has in itself become chronic.  Monica lives with chronic pain. These are just two of many whom I know.  Arthritis is so common these days that we almost ignore those hobbling around needing new knees, hips and, worse still, new parts, like backs, that cannot be replaced.

So last night when Frances asked me what had caused me to cut my bladder in half (the aftermath of which I had highlighted as being on the rather painful part of the spectrum) I was thinking just how fortunate I have been.  It's not the first time I've realised this but I thought it was a good opportunity to renew my thankfulness.

I had opined that pain at the high threshold can sort of be measured by whether one remembers it. We remember pain but forget exactly what it was like. That must be the case or most of the women I know would never have had a second baby.   I can recall a Spanish doctor (who spoke relatively little English) sticking a syringe through my back into my lung when I was 16 and was in hospital after a lobectomy (partial lung removal).  He hit a nerve and the poor nurse who's arm had been holding me in front actually swore at him because he just left it there and started asking me what was wrong. Then there was the pain from having my bladder cut in half during a life-saving operation and having a catheter bulb sitting on it for days. That hurt. I said never again. That was 16 years ago. I'm still alive. Would I do it again?  I'm not sure in theory but in practice surely the pain wasn't that bad.

"The point of this is what?"  I can hear you ask.  The point is that the only pain I have suffered (ignoring my arthritic knee which is to be replaced but the discomfort of which I have grown used to provided that I'm really careful and don't aggravate it in which case it's very painful) is acute pain and acute pain by definition is relatively transient. 

So today I am very thankful indeed for a life so far relatively free of pain.  For those of you in constant pain I feel deep sympathy.  For those of you without pain please take a moment to consider your good fortune.

28 comments:

  1. I use the pain out 10 question all the time with my son as I try to determine if he really needs to be rushed to emergency for a sore this or that.

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    1. It sounds, Carol, as though you have an accident prone son or does he have other problems?

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    2. He does have residual pain from a broken arm, but he also suffers from onlychilditis.

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  2. SO true... I am grateful regularly for this too as I see some of my friends cope with intense pain regularly. The odd knee twinge I get is NOTHING!

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  3. Thanks for the reminder to count my blessings. Apart from a few acute pain episodes, I'm known little pain. I'm finding osteo a proper bitch but I think the worst part of it is in my head. I'm a slow learner and it punishes me whenever I forget one of its lessons. Lets me know whos boss and I don't like that very much. It's an interesting journey to say the least.

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    1. For me, Pauline, I think constant pain like yours would be so difficult. When I've had the occasional nagging neck ache I've found it far less acceptable than occasional acute pain: whilst I have it anyway.

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  4. Yeah I'm thankful too GB. I get headaches and body aches but am now able to keep it in perspective. I feel for those who have hidden illnesses or ailments, suffering in silence.
    Emotional pain..................................another post I guess?1?!!!!

    Despite not writing my own blog, I still love reading yours GB. Take care!

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    1. Thanks very much Jaz. Emotional pain: a HUGE topic.

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  5. Our biology teacher at high school told us that the "Gl├╝ckshormone" (endorphines) which in most cases flush through a woman's body after she has given birth to a (healthy) child sort of erase the pain memory; without that, he stated, no woman would voluntarily have more than one baby. Well, he was a man, and we were teenagers - neither really qualified to know such things first-hand, so I have no idea how much truth is in it.

    As for my own constant pain (skoliosis makes sure I never forget that I have a spine and a left shoulder), I am very grateful for being in as good a condition as I am, and I take responsibility for my body by doing what I can to keep my condition at bay and not let it worsen any more than it will naturally do with age. If it weren't for my good doctor having sent me to a special rehab clinic for several weeks back in 2005, and me sticking to a regular schedule of exercise ever since, I doubt I'd be able to work full-time nowaways.

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    1. Meike I've certainly heard about the endorphines after childbirth before but it's not something I've experienced either. Although I knew you had skoliosis I didn't realise that it caused you such pain. One of the things that makes those other than the sufferer forget about such things is that so many, including yourself, live normal active lives with little outward sign of the pain. Of course those not suffering can only look on helplessly anyway and try not to do anything that exacerbates the suffering of others. I hope that you manage to keep your condition under control indefinitely.

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  6. I'm thankful that my memory is such that I can't remember.

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    1. Can't remember what Adrian? Good to meet a fellow ?. Oh dear I can't remember the name for it.

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  7. Ah, a subject that is very dear to me, as a sufferer of chronic constant neuropathic pain, I can say it is quite different from the acute pain that one may suffer at various stages throughout life...yes, like childbirth, kidney stones etc....that pain does pass, whereas chronic pain is wearing both physically and mentally and has long reaching consequences...yes you can learn to live with, one has to really, but it affects everything you do. Constant flare ups remind you when you are perhaps 'coping' with the current level of pain that you just aren't able to do some of the things you used to do. Sometimes you can't even work out what has caused one of these intense flare ups.

    I have to say the scoring out of 10 really frustrates me...yes it is good for some of those acute times, but in reality the level doesn't make a lot of difference if it is constant 24 hours a day pain - that is the difference...it could be relatively low...say 5 or 6, (or even 4 - 5) but if it is constant that is a whole different ball game. But I don't want to go on... only to say you soon discover who your 'real' friends are when you become someone who suffers from such a condition.

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    1. Seranata although not suffering from neuropathic pain I see its affects because my brother has suffered for decades. I cannot even begin to understand what it would be like living with it though.

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  8. Over the years I've programmed myself to tolerate high instances of pain whenever they come by.
    At present I have a few back aches and I can't bend and touch my toes like before, but all these "can't do anymores"come from old age I'm told.

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    1. Old age Virginia? "You ain't seen nuttin yet".

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  9. I observe people who are obviously in pain. They seem to live with it and some with very little complaint. There are some things that will happen to me and I will just have to suck it up.

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    1. That's what we have to do Red: just suck it up. Otherwise we go under.

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  10. Since I wrote that post, I've been more aware of my twinges/pain: dental hygienist 2, my back 1 (on the way down, bending) but 4 (coming back up again). Tripping over the hoover this morning, 3. There's a lot more discomfort in daily life than one thinks, isn't there? But as everyone seems to agree, there's a huge difference between short-lived pain and chronic pain.

    Good luck with the knee, GB. Are you having it done over there, or over here?

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    1. I think, Frances, you've hit on yet another thing that affects us all so frequently: the minor incident. They happen so frequently that we just accept them and work on. One of those for me is the paper cut. Another is the black fly bite: no one has so far mentioned itches as pain. My knee? The consultant said before I left the UK that he would do it as soon as I wanted (we have an excellent orthopaedic team in the Lewis Hospital and the waiting time is very short: two months preparation time when I left) because there's nothing between the bones now. Here's the rub (no pun intended) though. The bones seem to have worn smooth and most of the time I'm in relatively little pain and keep my leg muscles strong at the gym and with miles of croquet walking (on grass of course so less jarring). It's a question I understand of balancing pain with damage. So I'll have it done in the UK but I'm not sure when. Well you did ask!

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  11. It's good to read this and also remind oneself of how important our health is. I'm also thankful that neither me or anyone in my family suffers pain.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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    1. You are indeed fortunate Mersad and you have youth on your side too.

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  12. You are right, GB. Every day I am grateful that I am still here, and relatively pain free. xoxox

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  13. GB, I am new to your blog (and Blogger itself), so I'm still feeling my way through the etiquette and so forth. I suffer from foot-in-mouth disease, so I apologize if anything I say seems offensive.

    One of my best friends suffers from Muscular Dystrophy, which to those who are unaware of how it operates can be pretty much summed up thusly: Pain. He has been in a constant state of pain his entire time on this earth, and having known him now for over a decade, I can say this: Pain is all in the mind, but the mind is all we really have. He has used all of the classic remedies: drugs, humor, religion, sex, sports, and distractions of every stripe, but at the end, that is all they are: distractions. I wish I could take his pain away, and though I do not suffer from it myself, I have felt it from a distance ever since I realized how deeply the pain has transformed him. That is why I sympathize with anyone who feels pain, no matter who they are. Apologies for the rambling; my thoughts were certainly provoked, and I certainly intend to come back to see what else you have to share with us. Thank you.

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    1. Nathanial never apologise on this blog for rambling. If that was a requirement (apologising for rambling) I'd never stop saying 'sorry'. Perhaps one of the things about either experiencing or knowing, as you do, someone whose life revolves around pain is the hope that it makes one a more understanding and sympathetic person.

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