Pain can be all consuming. It can be debilitating. Pain can make us stronger. We can be afflicted by pain on a physical level due to an illness like PKD or an injury. We can be consumed with so much distress that a particular part of our body aches, like our heart. Mental or emotional suffering can cause us pain. Regardless of the circumstances, it is awful and tests us to our core.
“On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your pain?” I have heard this question umpteen times when in the hospital and at doctor appointments. This seems to irritate me more times than not. I know it is important but sometimes you are in so much pain that rating the level of discomfort from one to ten doesn’t seem to do it justice.
Before doctors removed both of my kidneys, they were so huge they were pushing on my lungs and limiting my breathing. I was forced to take shallow breaths. If I would take a normal or deep breath, the pain was unbearable. I am thankful that both of my kidneys were removed which allowed my organs to get back into a happier place. That was 11 years ago. Until the beginning of this year, I have been fortunate to not experience that level of pain. However, I am now finding myself breathing shallow to protect my body from my back pain. Due to my adverse reaction to pain pills, I have not taken any since the end of July. The pain is constant and I feel as though it is starting to take a toll on me.
A few weeks ago, I decided to give acupuncture a shot. This week I had a rough treatment. My lower back is so inflamed and irritated, it is quite painful when the needles are inserted in my back. I was lying on my stomach with my head face down in the upside-down horseshoe-shaped pillow. The acupuncturist began by inserting needles in my ears, hands, feet and then my lower back. She put the needles at the locations that are most sensitive right now in my back. It was so painful that my body flinched with each inserted needle. When she was finished, I found myself in tears. Fortunately the pain diminishes once the needles are inserted.
As I lay there face down in the pillow with tears streaming down my face, I silently questioned why I was inflicting more pain on myself. I took many deep cleansing breaths and reminded myself that sometimes we need to deal with more pain to get to a point of obtaining a better quality of life again. I am hoping this natural course of action will be beneficial for me. I calmed myself down and tried to get to a happy place for the rest of my treatment.
I believe that is a struggle when dealing with pain – finding a happy place – whether that is mentally, physically or both. Everyone’s pain is different. A different magnitude, a different kind, and each affected on a different level. However, everyone’s pain is of the same importance and we should not think ours is less or more by comparing it to others.
“The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.”
I continue to forge through my health obstacles and my pain, because on a scale of one to ten, my hope, strength and determination is off the charts.
Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with pain? How do you find your happy place in the midst of pain?