Monday, October 17, 2011

Choosing Pain

Most people dislike pain. It is nature's way of warning us of a problem, slowing us down, giving us a chance to heal. Pain used to be accepted as a part of life. People knew they would endure pain during their lives, it was expected, and most of the time there was little they could do to relieve it. Then came modern medicine. Have you looked at all the pain relievers out there? The over the counter pain relievers alone are enough to overwhelm a person. So many medicines to choose from, and so many that people need to be very careful with and rarely are. 

As a Registered Nurse I have been amazed at how many people misuse Tylenol and aspirin alone! People regularly taking 3 or 4 Extra Strength Tylenol tablets because 2 didn't ease the pain...can we say liver damage? Or parents who freely hand out aspirin to their kids because they took it as a child and they were fine...tell that to my brother who lost his eight year old son to Reye's Syndrome! 

And then there are the prescription medicines that can help with pain. Narcotics (opioids), barbiturates, long acting anti-inflammatory's, steroids and various muscle relaxants. Really, there is no reason for a person to experience pain, right? Well certainly we have come a long way in treating acute pain. Have a headache? Take some over the counter pain medicine. No relief? Head to the ER for a shot of Demerol and then home to sleep it off. But what about chronic pain?

Chronic Pain Fine Art Print - Marsha Heiken
Chronic pain is a different story. See, almost all these pain relievers have their own set of problems when used long term. Finding the right fit for long term use is a little more difficult. That is why I made the decision to live with a certain amount of chronic pain. I don't want to feel woozy or sleepy, but I also don't want to have so much pain that I am left immobile. Usually I manage to walk that fine line rather well. But occasionally I have a relapse that leaves me in bed with the pain or drugged up and sleeping it off. I hate those lost days when the pain moves from moderate to severe. 

That is why I choose pain over heavy medication most days. I have discovered that although I may be slow, I may limp, I may have to have someone else carry items, and I may have to sit more is what I accomplish that day that I later remember...not the pain. If I used medication to try to obliterate the pain totally, I would also likely obliterate my memory and enjoyment of the day's activities. For myself it is really not such a bad trade off to choose pain.


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