The Gift of Pain

The gift of what? Have I turned masochistic? Nope, I have just adopted a new way of looking at pain.

I was suspended from yoga for a week because of the on-and-off pain on my right leg. During this time, I realized that my pain was more psychological than physiological. Exactly the same thing my acupuncturist Dr. Eddie told me months ago about my “reddish tongue”. This realization led to reflect and read again Philip Yancey’s Where Is God When It Hurts.

Yancey said that the typical American response to pain is to take an aspirin at the slightest ache and silence the pain. People dare not shut off the warning system without first listening to the warning. (34)

He cited the case of Bob Gross, an NBA player who wanted to play despite a badly injured ankle. Knowing that Gross was needed for the important game, the team doctor injected Marcaine, a strong painkiller, into three different places of his foot. Gross did start the game but after a few minutes, as he was battling for a rebound, a snap was heard that was loud enough to fill the whole arena. Although he felt no pain, a bone had broken in his ankle and ended Gross’s career. (34)

Yancey furthered that pain should be viewed as a communication network, a remarkable network of sensors that stand guard duty with the singular purpose of keeping us from injury. It cannot be switched off. It can rage out of control as in the case of a terminal cancer patient, that even though its warning has been heard, there is no more that can be done to treat the cause of the pain. But 99 percent of all the pains that people suffer are short-term pains: correctable situations that call for medication, rest, or a change in lifestyle. Pain demands the attention that is crucial to one’s recovery. It is a signal alerting one to attend to a matter that needs change. (34-35,56)

Change.

Sigh.

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