pain, reconsidered

Pain does some weird things to a person.

Over the last 48 hours I’ve moved from contentment to dread to deep discomfort with my discomfort. In the process, I hit a brick wall of fear and sadness.

Pretty typical.

Depression lights upon me. It goes. It comes back. I try to see it as the shadow of a raven passing overhead. A raven and a cloud. They will pass. There may be some havoc. Or maybe not, maybe not.

Raven by Erin Ward

Raven by Erin Ward

Will this ever stop? Most experts say no, get used to it.

They pat you on the head and send you home with a “make the best of it” and some meds that don’t work. They work for some, maybe 30% of the patients. Good for that, I suppose.

Change your diet this way, exercise that way. Think like this. Don’t think like that.

And those who want me to meditate more or in a different way — they remind me of the Christians I used to know who always said: read the Bible, pray more, turn it over (and over and over) to God more. Enough.

It was enough then. It’s enough now. Don’t please go there with me anymore.

I know about the alternative treatments. Of course I try them. I’ve been trying them. I’ll listen to you, but don’t tell me I’m going to get better if I use your one magical cure.

That’s the thing about intractable pain. It’s intractable.

When supplements that hold promise don’t work. When side effects are as bad as the pain situation. When there’s no cure. When people look at you oddly because they’ve never heard of it. Because you’ve never heard of it, maybe it’s not real.

Then. Then. Then if you care about me, sit with me, walk alongside me, but let me go slower than I have in the past. Then life gets pared down to its barest of necessities.

Maybe (since I really have no choice) that can be a good thing. It can be a good thing when you tend to be a person who complicates stuff unnecessarily. Maybe sometimes “no other choice” can be helpful.

I have my own commitment to move through the pain storms into a space of deeper equanimity.

I have a friend with the same kind of illness. He calls the daily pain “background noise”. And it is like that sometimes. Sometimes that’s what it is. So you look at it that way and save your bigger energy for the pain that bursts out to the forefront.

Pain saps varying amounts of your energy. I have to get used to that. This isn’t easy for a life-long high-energy person. It isn’t easy for people who know me and people who care about me. I’m not the same person. I am, but I’m not.

I’m having to learn to live in a new way and, honestly, at my age, I don’t exactly want to.

There have been just so many changes in the last four or five years.

For now, I still have the night sky and all of those stars, the wind, the distant mountains, the hint of a sea breeze.

Things change. I know that mantra.

When I was going through one of my eight labors, a midwife told me to surf the contractions. That was surprisingly good advice. I’m surfing this thing.

heart tube surf

About rainshadowfarm

I teach anthropology, am an archaeologist, a drylands agroecologist, community educator, and a single mother of eight grown kids. I currently own and operate an educational and research farm in the southern Mojave Desert, Rainshadow Farm. I'm 100% West Virginia hillbilly. Not necessarily in that order.
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10 Responses to pain, reconsidered

  1. cindy knoke says:

    Oh sounds so difficult. I am sorry~

  2. {{{{}}}} Meditation isn’t the cure for all that ails us. That’s kind of like saying it’s all in our heads, and if we’d just get control of our heads, we’d be all better. It’s not a failure if it doesn’t work for you. It’s also understandable that you’d be depressed sometimes. How could you not be, under the circumstances? You’re a remarkable woman, and you’ve earned your feels, even when they make other people uncomfortable.

    I have no advice. Just ears and a heart that loves you.

  3. A says:

    All those chestnuts about aging not being for the faint of heart—true. Especially for those of us
    with still so much to do…

  4. Andy Jukes says:

    What you write rings very true for me. I have Parkinson’s. It changes the way I can be in the world. At times it is hard, For me and those around me. But it is what it is. I agree with you. You just have to surf it. We will no doubt fall many times. But we will get back on the wave. We will grow more skilful. We will learn to enjoy the ride.

  5. Well said, Andy. I think we’re on the same page here.

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