Thursday, July 3, 2008

musings on pain

I'm in a lot of pain today. It happens. I'm getting better at managing it, and haven't been to the hospital in over a year. Sometimes pain creeps up on me, and I can divert it, redirect it, or subvert it. Other times, like today, it arrives full-blown, without warning, and it's harder to manage.

Pain is a funny thing---your body sending you urgent messages that something is wrong. I'd like to tell it that I know, that I'm doing all I can to address the problem--which isn't really correctable. It seems like you should be able to talk to yourself like you would talk to a child to reassure them, to calm them down. "I know something is wrong," I tell myself. "Everything will be fine, we're doing all we can and you don't need to worry anymore. There is no need to keep reminding me of the problem; I'm on it, I promise." I try to distract myself, (perhaps by writing) just as I would try to divert a child, try to get them thinking or talking about something else. I must admit that I have better results with a child than with myself.

In my family we have a retired service dog, a wonderful Labrador retriever who has been unable to work since he was three. He was in several car accidents in a row, and became too anxious to work. He also endured a surgery to repair some accident-related damage, so he knows a thing or two about pain. He now lives the life of a pet, and he's a wonderful dog. A little idiosyncratic, perhaps, but wonderful.

He hasn't entirely forgotten his early years as a working dog, and he can tell when I am struggling. He stays very close to me, stays very quiet, and puts his head in my lap when I'm sitting. He brings me Kleenex boxes, which he learned to do in his early days as a grief-therapy dog. It's not grief, but I guess pain is pain, regardless of the source.

So, what's the next step? I don't know; maybe he knows. Maybe it's being quiet and letting the storm blow over, although as Andrea has pointed out in A Small Group of Thoughtful Concerned Citizens, that can be illusory. Maybe later I'll feel well enough to sit and smell the thyme and that will help. All I know right this minute, is that I have to take it one minute at a time.


Andrea Rusin said...

Oh honey! I THOUGHT something must be wrong. You just kind of vanished, and I was about to call you.

And I have personal experience that your dog still has the heart of a service dog. He can certain soothe you psychically, if not physically.

Be gentle. Being swamped by pain is not a moral failing or a failure of the will. At least let that much go ;)

Greg said...

I hope you feel better soon. Cronic pain is hard to take, I'm glad you have a great dog by your side. SSD Nala is a constant source of strength for me and when I'm sick stays very close to me. Goodluck and feel better.