Pain, I’ve been told, is a good thing. It is the body’s way of informing you that something is wrong. Well, I have gotten the message and it’s been painfully clear.
One late night in April of 2020, I fell asleep while sitting in my desk chair. This was not unusual. I was probably busy doing something at the computer, maybe even writing a posting for this blog. I really don’t remember. Anyway, being the restless sleeper that I am, I apparently changed the position of the chair from facing the desk to facing the empty floor behind me. Still nothing unusual here, except that my weight must have shifted forward. When this happens while the chair is facing the desk, as it often has, I usually wake up after I have fallen forward and planted my face in the keyboard. Luckily, the letters rarely suffer any damage, nor I. This time, however, the desk wasn’t there to break my fall—the hardwood floor was. I awoke a nanosecond before I landed on my cheekbone. When I came to my senses, most of them were gone. I could not feel or move anything below my neck. It was, needless to say, a horrifying experience. Fortunately, it was not permanent.
To make a long, arduous story short, I am back on my feet, although walking with a cane, still in therapy and gulping down two loads of colorful pills every day. While I have made tremendous progress recovering from my fall, there remains one constant: pain.
I have a history of tolerating a high level of pain even to the extent that my dentist has volunteered to take a shot of Novocain in sympathy while I let him drill away at me teeth without any. But this year’s been different. It’s not so much the level of pain. It’s the fact that it never goes away. Among my many medical issues symptomatic of my age and surgeries, something is always hurting. After a while, I admit, it wears you down.
Mornings are especially challenging. Muscles and joints grow stiff while the body sleeps and they resist attempts to move when it’s time to get up. But looking on the bright side, opening my eyes in the morning and knowing I’ve been granted another day, well that gives me incentive to get bending.
The challenge of chronic pain is to learn to live with it. Some people pop a lot of pain pills to get through the day. Many of these folks become addicted, only adding to their suffering. Others look to holistic alternatives for relief. Some experiment, as I did with medical marijuana (no, it didn’t work for me). Still others trudge on, hoping some day the pain will simply go away. I am in this latter group too. I take an occasional pain pill but I am careful not to rely on them for everyday relief, which they don’t always provide anyway.
I sympathize with people who suffer with chronic pain. It has the capability of taking all joy out of life and leaves you not only physically hurting, but emotionally exhausted. Having experienced almost total paralysis, albeit for a short time, I look at my battle with pain as a much more manageable challenge. I often think of the old joke about the guy who keeps banging his head with a hammer. He’s asked why and answers, “because it feels so good when I stop.”