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Theodore Lane: Champagne verdrijft de pijn
[Champagne driving away real pain]
(1825 - 1826)

"Waiting seems the worse sort of RealPain."

I, probably like you, have sometimes been called a real pain in the ass. I confess to the charges even though I struggle to accept the concept of RealPain, for pain seems almost entirely illusory. That's not to say that pain can't make a reasonably convincing case that it sometimes has substance; it's just that whatever that substance might be, it seems extraordinarily elusive. Even medical doctors rely upon a silly cartoon chart to asses pain levels, and their test requires patients to assess and report their own levels when most patients lack adequate experience to pass such judgments. My little sister, who would cry at the drop of a hankie, might declare a pain level of eleven for something I'd most likely label a twinge.

I've lived with chronic pain but learned not to take it very seriously.
I've been told I have a high pain threshold, but I do not consider myself exceptional. I can focus so that pain sometimes crawls over into the backseat or even into the trunk, though I cannot always successfully make it flee. My latest visitor initially seemed like RealPain, but it overstayed whatever welcome it first enjoyed. The immediate care doctor diagnosed it as a routine Deltoid Bursitis—which seemed to me like an older adult's ailment— but it felt anything but routine. As I've reported, we believed it resulted from some over-exertion in the yard, and I was ordered to take it easy. Easy came hard for me as I seemed to need to engage in my usual activities of daily living, some of which no longer seemed all that easy with my right shoulder aching and pain—could that be RealPain?—radiating down my forearm to stab my wrist. Combing my hair with my left hand held few attractions.

The Muse became protective, pleading with me to remain inactive while she performed work that really should have been my responsibility. That sensation seemed like something bordering on RealPain, for me to idle aside while my bride engaged. That left me sore and afraid! I wait for my pain pill time like I'm waiting for a bus that never comes, for the meds the immediate care physician prescribed seem remarkably ineffective. A month later, the visitor has worn out whatever welcome greeted him to become dull. I wince in anticipation as much as I do in response to actual movement now. I cannot tell if I'm making up my reactions or if they genuinely reflect RealPain. A month of experience leaves me even more skeptical.

Yesterday I decided to engage with an Anything But That! response to the continuing visitation. Rather than nurse myself in idleness, I did precisely the opposite of what the doctor had prescribed. Sometimes, an Anything But That! turns out to be just what the doctor
should have ordered. It rejects the notion that better results from following orders and even that an order might somehow prove adequate to reverse some physical disorder. Both The Lord and the human body work in ways mysterious, so Anything But That! attempts to leverage that great mystery in the interest of healing mysteriously. It often works. I exercised, stretching precisely how the doctor had tried to dissuade me from stretching. I noticed a definite loosening of the tension which had held my arm in virtual suspension since the diagnosis. I experienced a few twinges, but I overall felt no worse and might have even felt considerably better for my challenge.

I woke no worse this morning. This suggests that my condition—if I even have a condition—might have morphed into another form. While it might have been reasonable early on to avoid very much motion with that arm, it might have grown anxious and needy for precisely the opposite of what it initially needed. I noticed that when I'm engaging, I experience little pain, just the occasional wincing. When I'm not engaging, my experience seems essentially the same, so whether my pain is RealPain or not, I dare not continue nurturing it as if it made me special enough to allow me to shirk my work. I long ago learned to grit my teeth and bear most discomfort. I figure I might just as well continue that practice. If I wait for the pain—RealPain or imagined—to depart, I'll most likely spend my time waiting rather than engaging. Waiting seems the worse sort of RealPain.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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