Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Healing and Pain

Just thought I'd jump on here again, with a couple of thoughts.

We all hate pain, both physical and emotional pain. But it occurs to me - not for the first time - that pain is one of the signalling-systems our bodies have to communicate with us. After all, we are very stupid, and we need a lot of nudging to get the message!

Perhaps you are in pain right now, or perhaps you are completely comfortable. If you are comfortable, you will almost certainly remember a previous tangle with pain. And I'm talking both kinds of pain, here: pain in the heart, and pain in the body.

Pain, all kinds of it, is caused only by the one single cause: something is profoundly wrong somewhere. If your relationship causes you pain, you need to examine it and change it. If your liver causes you pain, you need to examine it and change it (and keep off the chemicals). If your joint causes you pain, you need to examine that and change it, too.

Both with physical pain and emotional pain, I am greatly loathe to take pain killers (for the latter these might be anything from antidepressants to positive affirmations). I'll take them if there is no option - I remember unanaesthetised childbirth and it wasn't pretty - but anything up to and including a broken bone, I will tend not to grab for painkillers (and yes, I have had broken bones, and didn't take anything for pain).

No, I'm not a masochist. No, I don't use pain to get kudos and sympathy from others. I simply like to feel, really feel, what's going on. If I were to take painkillers for my currently uncomfortable knee - an old injury that has recurred eleven times in the last twenty years - then yes, I'd probably be slightly more comfortable sitting here at my computer desk blogging away. I'd also be blogging about something else, or nothing at all.

But when I finally stop typing and rise from this chair, under the influence of painkillers I'd probably limp less, putting more of my weight down more heavily on the injured joint, compounding the injury. It has been my empirical observation that people who are free with the painkillers tend to ride their injuries more heavily than people who don't, and end up healing slower. Those of us who choose to experience our pain are a good deal more tender with our bodies, and don't overstress them, healing faster than we otherwise would.

Pain tells you how your healing process is progressing, and how you need to treat your body (or heart) right now in this moment. Pain is the most valuable signal you will ever have to help guide you in your self-healing, monitoring your progress and restricting the harmful things you can do to yourself. Suppress pain if you have to - but if you know you have an injury or organic illness, suppressing it to the point of not feeling it at all is self-defeating, and will prevent your being able to access the one most reliable source of information about the progress of your condition.

Yep, I'm officially weird - I actually feel quite positive about the throbbing in my joint right now!

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