Sunday, March 4, 2012

Turning Around (thoughts on pain and truck driving)

I think we'd all agree that there are many varieties of pain. Pain varies in intensity, duration, quality and actual nature. I've come across checklists that include words like shooting, burning, shocking, boring, searing, throbbing, aching, constricting, exploding, stinging etc etc. You get the idea. There are lots of ways to talk about it.

Based on my experiences up til now, I have always thought of pain as being primarily 2 different types.
1.) The pain of something being wrong: injury, illness, etc. This is the body's alert system, a sign to fix something.
And then there is 2.) the pain of labor and childbirth. This is fundamentally different because the pain of contractions is a sign that the body is doing exactly what it's supposed to. You can't fix it. It actually means things are progressing! It's a good sign. Hooray.


I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable on the pain of Type 2, having delivered a 9 lb 5 oz baby completely naturally (and then in subsequent years, likewise delivering a 6 lb 15 oz and a 8 lb 1 oz. baby). And through those experiences, I learned a bit about how I deal with pain.

I learned for instance, that I mostly like to be left alone. I don't want other people giving me a lot of suggestions, distracting or bugging me, or even talking to me (Zac was allowed to touch me, but that was it). I deal with it by withdrawing inward and focusing. Deep breaths and conscious efforts to relax. Being aware of physical tension in my arms and shoulders and releasing it (because tension tends to increase the perception of pain). I knew it was temporary, no matter how eternally long it seemed to be. And I knew I could endure. If I could shut down everything else and just focus on getting through the pain, I could do it.

This sometimes works to help with the first type of pain, too. Sort of. Things like dental work, when you know you just have to deep breathe for a short while until the Novocaine kicks in, or having blood drawn, or those kinds of necessary but painful experiences. I can deal with those.

And bigger, deeper, longer lasting and more intense pain, I tend to need to be alone to deal with it. Headaches. Gall bladder attacks (before I had it removed). But again, I knew it would go away eventually. I just had to wait it out. I just had to let the pain take over for a little while until it ran its course. I had to let everything else go and just survive it, for a while.

But then there's this. This nerve pain. My usual coping mechanisms aren't working. Because it doesn't fit any other pattern. This will not go away. It may not be fixed. Or, if it does, I have no way of knowing how long it will be before it does. It's entirely possible it won't. So my natural instinct to withdraw and focus and wait . . . just won't work anymore. Because I can't function like this. I'm not functioning.

I know I can't keep going on like this. Somehow I need to change the way I am approaching this pain and dealing with it. I need to turn around and back myself out and try a different route because this road isn't taking me anywhere. I know this. I have to keep going and learn how to function in spite of the constant pain. In spite of all my impulses and all my experiences telling me to do otherwise, I have to learn to ignore it. Push it aside. Distract myself. Something. I don't know yet.

But I am not a compact little mini-cooper (or whatever) that can change its mind and flip around on a dime. Ohhh no. I've discovered that I might be a little more like a huge 18-wheel tractor trailer, hogging the road, needing some huge extra buffering space to maneuver around. I might have traffic blocked in both directions, cars honking, getting impatient because I'm in their way. I might even need someone (or a few someones) to get out and help direct me because I just might run into something if they don't. I might cry. A lot. I might get going forward and jerk, and go back and slam, and might stall the dumb thing and end up jack-knifed, get frustrated and use some colorful language that I wouldn't normally use, because 'what-the-crap!-I-don't-even-have-a-license-to-drive-this-thing!' Whoever thought I could do this must have been insane.

But here I am.
I will take this and get it turned around eventually.
Because I have no choice.

Be patient with me.

1 comment:

KGC said...

Wow. Your way with words is amazing. From one sufferer to another, you're completely right. It's hard to ignore, & focus on something else. I try crocheting as my distraction, & it hardly ever works. It's hard to ever think things will get better. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel. There's always hope. I wish you all the best!

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