When Pain Decides, by Rich Paschall
There are many powerful motivators in life. Money is at the top of some lists. It certainly seems to be the main motivation for many leaders of corporations and governments. Doing good, rather than doing evil or even just doing nothing, inspires people to do good works that will benefit their community and their world, however large that may be. Fear can also be a motivator to get you to do things or to avoid people, places, things . What motivates you to act in a certain way?
Pain is clearly a strong motivator. People will generally avoid things that cause pain. At least, they will when they know better. My earliest memory involves broken glass. I was barely more than a toddler when glass broke on the floor and my father and grandfather were yelling at me to stay put. This of course frightened me and I ran across the floor to one of them. I was barefoot at the time. The next thing I knew one of them was carrying me down to the doctor’s office, conveniently on the same street. The other hurried along side. I guess the good doctor picked a little glass out of me and sent me home. I knew never to run through broken glass again, at least not barefoot.
Sometimes we learn about pain the hard way. The oven is hot. The radiator is hot. The campfire is hot. Heavy objects will hurt if they fall on us. Knives will cut. Scissors will cut. Razor blades are for an adult to carefully handle. Falling off your bike is bad. Falling down stairs is bad. Falling on the ice is bad. Being hit by a car… Well, some things are very bad.
All of these tragedies and possible tragedies motivate us to lead a safer life. No matter how well our parents try to “child-proof” the house, there are still painful lessons to be learned. From them, we discover how to stay safe and avoid pain.
Sometimes pain may keep you off your bike, off the ski slope or off the golf course. The aches and pains of age may stop you from doing things you used to love. You may see the roller coaster at Great America, but decide your back will not take such a jolt. A sore knee may keep you from hiking or a headache may keep you out of the sun. You may be motivated to keep away from many activities.
No matter how carefully you live your life, however, other factors may intrude that cause pain and painful decisions. A whole encyclopedia of maladies may force you into the doctor’s office in search of relief from pain. Have you ever heard yourself ask the doctor to give you something for the pain?
There are plenty of “some things” to be had. I know. I have many of them on hand.
If you consider the health of your family and friends over the years, you may see a lot of pain and suffering. Sometimes people’s lives become an exercise in treating pain. Some doctors are wary of treating the pain, which is a symptom, rather than the problem. Getting something for the pain and going home is not often a good route to take.
In the middle of last year, neck pain and arm and shoulder numbness caused me to go to the doctor. My manager in the freight forwarding world was concerned I was having a stroke. I assured him I was just having a lot of pain. A stroke will cause numbness on one side and usually a severe headache as well. Know the warning signs of stroke. It is a different kind of pain.
Without going through all of the steps and studies along the way, I can say I ended up at a pain doctor who realized there was more than a pain in the neck. He treated that pain but also caused for a lower back problem to be found. Rather than deal with the neck problem, I had an operation on the lower back which alleviated pain and numbness, but not the original problem.
Why did I avoid the original problem? Because the back surgery sounded like it could be solved with a minimally invasive procedure while the neck surgery sounded scary and painful. It was pain that caused me to opt for one surgery over what was actually a bigger problem.
While I was looking into options for the neck, I finally picked a neurosurgeon and scheduled surgery. Why would I let someone cut into my neck because of a couple herniated discs? What motivates me to have the procedure I had been avoiding?
When I was much younger I had a procedure that caused for a spinal injection. When I awoke, I found a weird feeling in the spine and numbness from the waist down. It went away in a short time, but the back was sore and I swore then, I would never let anyone touch my spine again. What happened to change that? Pain.
The surgery I avoided became inevitable. Pain made the decision for me. It is time to go forward with an attempt to replace a couple herniated discs and put C5 back in place. I absolutely do not want to do it. A larger motivating factor came into play.
This will take me away from my computer for a day or two or three. Hopefully I will be able to answers any comments in a timely fashion. If not, I guess you will know what motivating factor kept me away from my appointed rounds.