Posts Tagged With: pain

Blinding Pain


Indulge me for a moment as I reflect on PAIN. The electric word, pain, it means forever and that’s a mighty long time, but… wait, no. Wrong lyrics. It’s more like I have stood here before inside the pouring rain. But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain.

(TANGENT: Over the years I have come to the conclusion that there is a song for every occasion. And my life is a never-ending jukebox of extended play soundtracks, product jingles and sitcom theme music. But I digress…)

Pain comes in various levels of intensity that I personally believe can be classified by the initial or ongoing reaction of the body. For instance, there is the OUCH variety. As a parent you become intimately acquainted with this type of pain, since it is usually the result of being caught in the crossfire of flying toys, or stepping on a Lego brick for the 2 millionth time. Then you have the NAG variety. This is pain attributed to something like a paper cut, or in my case, the silent and invisible slice of the skin that occurs when you’ve lost your patience while trying to open the 124 jumbo pack of size 4 diapers. After the initial intake of breath from the sudden sharp cut, this pain follows you around for a day or so as it reopens repeatedly because you’ve forgotten about it, and failed to take it easy on the tickle attacks. Of course, there is the THROB level of pain. Most of us are probably familiar with these dull waves of soreness that gather in your arms, feet and legs when you finally sit down after a long day of errands, decorating and playing host to a couple dozen tyrant gradeschoolers for a birthday party.

Why am I saying all of this? Because on Tuesday of this week I was finally at the point of no return with one of the more devastating levels of pain… which is BLINDING. Blinding pain is when the pain is so intensely excruciating that you squeeze your eyes shut uncontrollably. It’s the kind of pain that wakes you up from a dead sleep and laughs at your feeble attempts to ignore it for the sake of rest. It’s the kind of pain where panic sets in because you are quite certain it will never go away and you seriously consider the horrific thought of what it would mean to endure this kind of torture for the rest of your life. Yep. That was me. It was a toothache. And you can chuckle all you want, but when your head feels like someone is shooting bolts of electricity through the roof of your mouth and directly into your brain, no amount of head-holding, temple-massaging, hot packs, or acetaminophen is going to provide you any relief. It was the kind of pain that you can’t run from though you desperately wish it were possible.

(TANGENT: This is second only to MIND-NUMBING pain in which the pain is to the point where the body shuts off all sensory perception and you knock out. This happened when I was 12 and was hit by a car. You can read that story here.)

Fortunately for me, I have a wife that likes having me around and wants to keep me around for a bit longer. So she set up an emergency appointment for me with the dentist that afternoon.

A little background on my relationship with dentists… I’ve developed a bit of apprehension about visiting them. Why? Well, not because I’m the kind of person who’s afraid of going to the dentist’s office. But it’s more about how the dentist treats me. As a kid, if I had a cavity the dentist would say something along the lines of, “If you don’t lay off the sweets, all of your teeth will fall out.” Now I know that this approach works for some people, but for me it just felt eye-roll worthy. As I got older, the dentists I visited seemed to only get worse. Instead of a jovial “Lay off the sweets,” I’d get a more accusatory “You’re too young to have this going on in your mouth!” or something equally degrading. Their comments were the antithesis of encouragement. “Hey Doc, I’m fully aware of the crummy condition of my incisors. That’s why I’m here! Can we skip the personal insults and just cut to the part where you fix my teeth and take away the pain? Thanks.”

I was happy to find that my wife (you know, that crazy-beautiful lady that tolerates my imperfections) had let the dentist and office staff know of my previous experiences. Because of this, they were extremely gracious. The dentist who took care of me that day was not only compassionate, but genuinely concerned about my overall comfort level. God bless her. After an initial examination I was told that my wisdom tooth in the upper right was broken and infected. I was given antibiotics, pain medication, and scheduled for an extraction appointment in 3 days. The next few days brought my pain level down from BLINDING to NAGGING with the occasional BLURRY thrown in for good measure. In any case, I made it to today.

My appointment was at 7am, which allowed me to get up this morning a whole half hour later than usual. I pressed through the rain, into the car, down the street, and into the familiar strip mall that contains our dental office, along with a smoke shop, a juice bar, and a much-frequented 99 Cents Only Store. As before, the office staff received me with knowing kindness and before I knew it, I was in and out with a mouth full a gauze and one less wisdom tooth!

The cause of my blinding pain, now mercifully extricated.

The cause of my blinding pain, now mercifully extricated.

I’m still taking the antibiotics and the occasional pain pill. But the blinding pain is thankfully in my past.

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Best Gift Ever


Introspection can be a wonderful thing.

Last night I was chatting with someone I deeply admire and whose attention I always appreciate. There’s one thing in particular that was said, that has been turning over in my mind ever since.  In response to my confession of getting a little teary-eyed while watching a movie, she said, “We can’t help it, Riis. We’re empaths. What we see, we experience. We feel it, too.”

Empathy.

I’m familiar with it. But I didn’t make the connection between it and the movie initially. I thought it silly to commiserate with fictional people. But it’s not necessarily the people as much as it is the experience. The feelings of loss, hurt, determination, overwhelming joy. And all at once I realized that it’s true. I can’t help it.

I believe that is the main reason why my capacity for grace and compassion is beyond measure. My nature is to BE empathic. It’s interesting because the logical, analytical part of me sometimes wonders why I’m this way. While the compassionate part of me can’t imagine not being this way. She also said, “Feeling without restraint. Best gift ever.”

Best gift ever.

Yeah, that it is. It’s a gift I wish more people possessed. To know the depth of someone’s pain or the height of their joy, to an intimate degree… can mean the difference between wise counsel and insensitive opinion. It turns acquaintances into friends and friends into brothers or sisters. It changes your perspective on the world itself. But I wouldn’t trade this for anything in it.

Best.

Gift.

Ever.

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Forever Wounded?


Today I recalled a discussion with my wife a while ago where we talked about healing… more specifically, Emotional Healing.

This is a topic I believe many people often misunderstand.  Unlike other types of wounds, emotional wounds typically extend deep, manifesting with both physical and emotional scarring, and requiring an extended recovery period.  The length of time it takes to heal emotional wounds can depend on different variables including:Photo by Nisha A

  1. The type of wound… whether it be betrayal, abuse, a bad reputation, public ridicule or even neglect.
  2. The person inflicted… some people have a higher threshold for pain and can therefore endure far more than others.  So what may be emotionally fatal to one person, might be seen as simply an emotional abrasion to someone else.
  3. The person who caused the injury… in some cases it can be far more damaging to be wounded by a family member than a friend.

Either way, these wounds require delicate handling so that they are not re-opened accidentally.  We might get to a point where the pain has ceased, but we must realize there is still damage beneath the scar.  The funny thing about emotional healing is that when the pain is gone, some of us rush right back into the exact types of situations that caused the wound in the first place.  Not only does it set us up for repeat injury, but the wound then becomes compounded… causing far more damage and pain than before… and nearly doubling the recovery time.

After my divorce, the best thing that could have happened (and did) was to have people around me who would be firm and let me know that although the pain has eased up, I still had some healing to do.  It may take some time before I was at full emotional health.  Even though the desire to jump right back into matters of the heart can be compelling.  It can cause you to make bad judgments, and like any wound left untreated it will become infected and cause damage to other vital parts of your life.  I thank God for my family and friends (virtual included) who had my best interest at heart.  For that, I love you all.

But I must say that I am most thankful for my best friend, who also happens to be my wife. It is through her friendship and love that many of my deepest emotional wounds, especially those I initially kept hidden or refused to even acknowledge, were healed once and for all. ❤

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