Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Pain in the Neck: Reflections on Pain

I have maybe mentioned before, like 7 zillion times, that I suffer from migraines.  (“She suffers, but she doesn't suffer in silence,” they say.)
I've been blessed since my miscarriage last Nov. to have only about 1-2 a month now, and it is a huge blessing.  Most of them seem to only last a day or two, and sometimes they are relatively mild.  Once in a while, however, I’ll have a severe doozie that lasts for 3-7 days.

That was my blessing this past week.  I say blessing, and I’m not being snarky.  First of all, I should have had the migraine the weekend of the move—we helped Paul’s mom and sister move to Boise, and I was able to visit my cousin in prison.  Both events were very important to me, and I was able to do them mostly functionally, with some meowing insanity, but not a terrible migraine.
I thought maybe I’d dodged a bullet for this month, but was slammed a day later.   I appreciated the deferment, and now I also, surprisingly, appreciate the terrible migraine that followed. 

When I’m in the severe kind of pain I experienced last week, a few things happen.  First of all, I feel panicked, even desperate for relief.  It is an exercise in self-control to only use medicines the way they are supposed to be used, which I have ALWAYS done, but it is still...  (When even Demerol doesn't cut it, I start to fantasize about something stronger.  Meth, maybe?  Kidding.  Mostly.  I compassionately understand how one could be led to cross the line.)  One of my greatest fears is that because so much addiction and substance abuse runs through my family, I will succumb to it and lose everything.  (Did I mention my cousin in prison?)  Sometimes I get so panicked about this that I won’t take anything in an effort to “Tough it out,” and then I have a more difficult time getting on top of the pain when I decide to get smart.  My wise doctor told me to cut it out, and helped me to see that I can use pain medication in an appropriate way.  I still worry, though.
I also want to pull into myself, roll up in a cocoon and hide under a rock.  I have to push myself to be kind to those around me, and to fulfill my obligations.  This is a two-edged sword, as I really do have some things that I have to do, but there is also a point when I must stop and just take care of myself.  “Pushing through” the pain often prolongs it.  Being selfish about my accessibility sometimes causes problems for my family.  It’s a delicate balance that I haven’t found yet.
 After about 24 hours, I start to wonder if I will ever be functional again.  I start to project the image of a life filled with pain—it’s easy to imagine.  I start to bargain with God and with myself.  Little things around me start to loom large and crash down around me.

Each time this happens, I gain a little more patience, faith and compassion.  Hence, the blessing of migraines.

I HATE being in pain, I really do, but I’m grateful for the things I am learning that I don’t think I could have gained any other way.  I experience my Heavenly Father’s love for me in a more poignant way.  I gain greater trust. I learn more and more of the amazing life of Jesus Christ.  My understanding of His atonement increases.  I stretch and am able to reach outside of myself a little more each time.  I am gaining tiny bits of self-mastery, and big chunks of compassion for those around me who suffer more than I.

When the migraine is over I have a greater appreciation for functionality, for this otherwise healthy body that I have been blessed with.  I also see my compassionate husband and children, and marvel at their kindness and service. 

Not really, but seems like this.

Things fall apart quickly when I’m out of commission, and it’s a little validating to see how important my work is.

Still, I’m grateful that God is in charge, as I really wouldn't willingly choose this test.  If it were up to me this would be the very last migraine.  EVER.  Sigh.

But let the record state that I trust Him. 

1 comment:

Kristen said...

I missed this the day you posted it. Thanks for sharing. I find suffering a less than enjoyable way to grow, but apparently it is necessary. Rats.

And we continue in faith on His name.

And thanks for lunch too.