Enduring Pain with No Medicine -- Grid Down June 15 2016
I have a confession to make: I crave sleep. I know, it’s a shocker…a dirty, dirty shocker of a secret. But I actually crave sleep for a different reason than many folks. Sleep is the dedicated time in my day that I do not deal with agonizing pain. Like many people, I have been the recipient of injuries secondary to a car crash. But telling you, dear reader, about my troubles isn’t the purpose of this blog entry. I want to teach you something by asking you a question – a question that I have grappled with professionally for quite awhile.
What if all of your favorite coping mechanisms (ways of getting through sucky circumstances) were GONE. Maybe not suddenly. Maybe not drastically. But what if your pain medications, booze, cigarettes, TV (or in my case, shamelessly recycled reruns of Star Trek: Next Generation) evaporated slowly? What if your ability to be comfortable was stripped from you and your loved ones incrementally?
I ask this question because it could likely happen.
How? Oh there’s lots of ways of course. Grid disruption, supply disruption, domestic unrest, monetary correction. Many costumes disguise the cold hard reality that we have GENERATIONS of people dependent upon supply and electricity to live. But have we really considered the implication of perhaps people living, but living a new reality of day to day agony?
There are a few mediations that help me. Herbal extracts, essential oils, topical non-narcotic (sorry to disappoint) pain patches. Oh believe me – the full might of my medical analytic prowess has been devoted to this issue for approximately four years. If you can name it, Google it, pin it, or establish a multi-level-marketing company around a product or method, I have tried it.
But what becomes of us when those coping mechanisms, products are gone?
In my experience there are 3 huge things that mitigate it: 1) Love 2) Prayer 3) Music
Love. Volumes have been written about endorphins and amorous neurotransmitter cocktails. But I’m tellin’ you, Smarter More Studly Half helps me feel better with hugs and kind words about as well - and sometimes better than- medication.
Prayer. I’m not talking, ‘Okay G-d, please take away everything.” I’m talking, “Lord, I have no idea why I had to be the recipient of this. I’m angry at you for not protecting me better –though in fairness, I should have been killed or at the very minimum paralyzed, so thanks for letting me live. I’m grateful for that. Thank you for letting me have a family who loves me and a roof over my head. If I have to endure this today, please be with me by my side.” Whoa! Listen to me go. Whining to realization to perspective to gratitude. Ahhh gratitude. The old woe-banisher.
Music. Another confession. I am a worship junky. I am happy-clappy. I own flags, and if you stand close enough to me while I’m singing, you are likely to get whacked. When I worship, I do not feel pain. Oh the structural issues are very much there – but I can only tell you I do not feel pain when I worship. There are other types of music that help too, but that’s just what came first to my mind right now.
The power of the mind and the spirit can be what keeps folks from going over the pain cliff. It takes courage to do this. It takes valor and might of Spirit to endure hardship. I’m DEFINITELY not saying that I’ve got the truth monopoly on coping. I have learned, however, that perseverance and courage are skills rather than traits. They can be honed, polished, improved if they are regularly practiced. We may be faced with terrible situations indeed in the coming weeks, months or years. But leadership and character emerge through trials.
Like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, I often ask G-d, “I know we are the chosen people. But once in awhile, can’t you choose someone else?!”
Maybe it’s through our trials that greatness is made.