Chris Tomlin O Come all Ye Faithful

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pain and the Lesson of Compassion

Groannnnn. I would have to say that last night rated up in the top five worst nights I've experienced....especially in regard to back pain...because that would eliminate the first night following each total hip replacement surgery....when the anesthesia failed; wore off almost immediately and they wouldn't give me more because they claimed I still had it in my system. So I had to spend about 20 hours unmedicated immediately following one of the most painful surgeries known to man.

Last night I didn't toss and turn. I just staggered from bed to recliner and back again....Moving hurt too much to bear....and too much to accomplish without staggering and coming close to falling....but staying in the same spot was completely unendurable. Once in my new location I cried and moaned; literally rolling from side to side in the bed and calling out to the Lord to PLEASE either give me relief or take me to be with Him...NOW!

I tried listening to music from my computer (my mp3 player bit the dust) to try to divert myself or to cancel out my ability to feel pain by deafening myself with sound. Needless to say; didn't work. I tried to read mathematics hoping that the effort to concentrate on that would take some of my concentration away from the fact that my spine felt like I was being rolled over by a steam roller.

Needless to say, I was very glad to see an end to that night. Now tonight scares me.

Because I'm always in some (usually large) degree of pain, I have a really high tolerance to it. For example I didn't scream and yell when my hip became dislocated and that does REALLY hurt. I don't think my threshold is that high (meaning that I literally wouldn't feel pain)....because I certainly DO feel pain...but my tolerance for it is high...Meaning it takes a lot to make me yell, or even take a pill. I talk a lot about my pain....it is, after all, probably the biggest limiting factor in my life....and it is with me 24/7...but I don't moan and cry. My family doesn't grasp the difference between mentioning something and crying about it. They always complain about my mentioning it. Like if an "ouch" escapes me in a moment of something intense, they get annoyed.

I guess I can understand that. After all when I was a kid and my mom suffered through the disintegration and replacement of two hips and made some moans and "owww's" (actually, quite a lot of them), I swore to myself that if I were ever in pain, I would suffer in silence. And this was a pretty selfish and callous decision for me to make...because I was totally devaluing her suffering and pain and only looking at how much her sounds annoyed ME.

And probably, a lot of my high tolerance has to do with that adolescent decision of mine. But now, I understand and sympathize with my mom...because I know how she was feeling now. And now I know just HOW difficult it is to hold back sounds that pretty much come out whether we want them to or not.

And now, sometimes, I catch myself thinking to myself, "I hope my daughter someday has the opportunity to understand firsthand how selfish she was being all these years. " And that is wrong too...because that is wishing her the same perpetuation of the generations of suffering that me, my mom and my grandmother went through. It's a shame that we must learn compassion with such a strong and difficult lesson. It would be nice if one of my progeny would learn to be sympathetic without having to actually play the role of the one who suffers in order to do it.
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