Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Pain Times Two

Tomorrow looms large in my mind. I'm going to have my first discussion with my doctor about pain management. I've not really talked to him much about pain, mostly our visits have focused on issues other than anything directly related to my disability. I don't know where the reticence I have about seeking help for dealing with pain comes from. I don't know why it bothers me so much. Pain is simply pain, I know that. Asking for help to manage the pain is, or should be, simply a logical next step.

But for me.

Big.

Step.

I had hoped that by making the appointment the pain would just go away, the way a toothache disappears in a dentists waiting room. But, it didn't. It's been mostly manageable. But just mostly. I've startled Joe sometimes with a sharp intake of breath when the pain gets difficult to bear. He's not said but I know he's glad that I'm going to see about getting some help.

My wheelchair helps me get around, I see that.

The grab bars in the bathroom helps me stay clean.

The reacher that sits beside my desk make the floor accessible.

All those are fine for me.

Why is this bothering me so much?

I grew up in a small mining town where men were men! The worst thing you could be called, as a boy, was a 'sissy' or a 'girly boy'. I was called those. Often. I didn't like boy things, like trucks, dirt and baseball. I learned that boys didn't cry. I learned that boys didn't admit to pain. Break your leg? Shake it off man! These lessons were taught often and failure to learn lead to social punishment of the highest order. You could shame your family by crying in public.

Maybe all these years later I'm still fleeing from the idea of my 'sissy-hood' ... even though I don't buy into those stereotypes. Even though I know that the term 'girly boy' is equally offensive to women and to men. Even though I know that pain is just pain and help is just help. I can't help but feel that tomorrow, in asking, I will somehow be less.

Sexism hurts everyone.

15 comments:

Glee said...

bahahaha sorry to laugh but my thought was an Aussie saying "Well suffer in your jocks then" said in a loving way :)

jocks are male underpants

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Finding the right pain management techniques is like managing any other part of your life: you just do it.

I have lived with pain for 25 years. If I stop taking one of the drugs that has an off-label effect for my CFS pain, then the pain comes back, and it is as if every muscle fiber in my body and every joint is on fire. I know when I've forgotten to swallow the little pill.

Someplace not that long ago, I added back pain that drove me to surgery to that mix (if you can't move much, it's hard to stay fit - double whammy). But the surgery was not a solution - and a whole host of techniques from yoga to isometric exercises to understanding how mind/body and tension interact has been the key to removing all the components of that pain - and avoiding the second, recommended, surgery. So far.

Demystify it, deal with it as you have with so many other things, go on living.

Pain is debilitating - and a lot of it is fixable. You have better things to think about.

To heck with your childhood memories - you are an adult now.

Alicia

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Those kind of messages are so hard to rise above. I got the same messages as a kid - not the "girly-boy" thing because I am a girl - but the "suck it up princess" message. And here is what I learned from that - don't listen to your body. So here I am in my 60s learning to listen to my body, making friends with my body. So far so good.

By taking care of the pain you are taking care of your body and taking care of you.

Those people who gave you the "girly-boy" messages were just wrong. I know that doesn't instantly obliterate the emotional fall out. But I hope it helps you accept that dealing with the pain is the best thing for you to do for yourself and for the others who want you around and comfortable for a long time yet.

Colleen

Ron Arnold said...

Past invalidation is kind of like a bell that can't be un-rung. Sometimes though - we can find just the right frequency to dampen it.

You're well loved (at the very least well-appreciated) by many folks Dave. That's a pretty validating frequency right there. =)

I hope you and your physician can work harmoniously to manage this pain well.

wendy said...

Good luck tomorrow, Dave. Here's to not suffering in silence.

Wendy Knowlton said...

Women, too, have often been brought up to suck it up and to complain is a sign of weakness. It is our job to raise our children so they realize that emotions are a part of us and it is strength, not weakness, to express them. Likewise, expression of pain is not a weakness but a strength - whether emotional or physical. Many of us struggle to express it, but when we do, our children and grandchildren see that it can be a sign of strength to deal with things that are difficult for us to manage. Good luck!

gill said...

Sorry about your pain...both physically and psychologically. I am hypnotherapy may be the answer you seek. No chemical intervention involved. I am in england but sure you could access i there just as easily...xxx

Liz said...

Sending love to you.

Anonymous said...

Old training dies hard. I'm fairly sure you'll find you're more, rather than less.

Belinda Burston said...

I think you answered your own question in the blog post Dave! But as a woman who has given birth, I recommend pain relief--although I say that lightly and I know an event is different to a life! :) It may be that you just need a little to take the edge off and that may make all the difference. I hope the appointment goes well.

Purpletta said...

Oh Dave - Being honest and true to yourself, and being upfront with those around you, in my opinion will never make you less. It is respecting yourself, honoring yourself... in my book that makes you more. I hope that ten-plus people saying the same on your blog can be enough of a chorus to feel believable.


...I have the great privilege to know a number of wonderful people who live beautiful lives, strong and courageous lives, everyday situations in which they have to work harder than I probably ever will just to experience a typical day. And for the most part the extra effort, the determination needed, has nothing to do with disability but everything to do with perception... the perceptions of 'our' society, the roadblocks caused by these perceptions... Many of the people I am fortunate enough to work with and indeed learn from are people who have spent much of their lives in institutions, and now as adults are finally able to have the opportunity to move back to their home communities, finally able to go to the coffee shop, to live in an apartment, to take out the garbage or invite over the family next door -- to do the things I so often take for granted. ...But one of the things that stands out to me recently is that it's not just for these day-to-day actions people today have to advocate, that people have to push to be seen as equally entitled to go to a coffee shop or to get a job.... But more seriously people's voice was taken, and so now these incredibly strong people must reclaim their voices.
It seems to me (from a distance at least) that part of your work Dave has been to help people to re-establish their own belief in their right to a voice, their right to honor their own inner light. People to be able to honor not only what they want to do, but who they are, and how they feel. I believe this is the work of all of us - for me it is a reminder that if I truly believe this person who I know who has overcome so much who truly just wants to live life -- If I tell him that I believe that he has a right to honor his own light, to honor his own feelings, to express what he feels, to look for help on his own terms, without that diminishing him -- If I tell him that all people are entitled to this respect of self -- don't I need to then apply the same principles to myself? I too struggle with this; not with pain management but with believing I have a right to honor myself without that making me less.

But Dave as you support a person to respect her inner light, to give voice to her own feelings, I believe you honor her. My strong feeling Dave is that you honor "her" (and all people) when you equally honor yourself.

My wish for you is that you are able to be in a place where you feel strong in honoring yourself, where you know without reservation that it strengthens you and doesn't make you less... and that you know that you are truly worth it.

Purpletta

Anonymous said...

Pain is pain. It knows no gender. Like death. As my old doctor use to say, "If the barn needs painting, paint it." I like to think that this applies to a lot of things. If you need something, take something. Deal with the facts, put feelings aside. Save those for Joe!

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

due to my heart defect and all its following problems I am often in a lot of different kind of pain. I learned to live with the pain and being as creativ and outgoing a possible even if it very often distracts me from enjoying things to the fullest.

(Sorry I am a little tired and my english is not a good as it should be.)

For me it is hard to discuss my pain and e en harder to dicuss pain management because the pain in my lungs, my heart arrhythmias and in my stomach and liver always reminds me that I live with a permanent failing system which is always in danger of tipping over the edge to total failure. From living with problems to not living at all...

And pain management even if possible due to medical advancements and new medication may cause havc to either my kidneys or my liver or due to mingeling with my brain chemics to "thinking problems".

So please Dave, ask if pain relief is possible for you. Life is so much more enjoyeble without pain!

Julia

Anonymous said...

Julia again: sorry this quote was attached to my original text but somehow got missing.

Here is it again: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”

krlr said...

I'm so sorry you have to deal with this and I trust you have competent, compassionate doctors. And that people will bring you strawberries.