Chronic pain (pain which lasts six months or more) is perhaps the most debilitating
category of ailments in our society today. One out of every six people in the U.S.
currently suffer from chronic pain and perhaps as many as half of all Americans will
suffer from chronic pain at some time in their lives.
The faces of chronic pain are many: back pain, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia,
arthritis, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), post-surgical
pain, cancer pain...the list goes on and on. Western medicine applies a mostly mechanical
approach to pain control, based in surgical procedures and pharmacological (drug)
interventions. My own experience of working in a medical pain clinic taught me that
these interventions are often tremendously useful. Just as often, though, they seemed
to be useless or even harmful.
Pete was a sixty-ish ex-truck-driver who had been disabled and unable to work for
many years as a result of an accident which severely injured his legs. I only saw
Pete once, as he attended a workshop that I was giving at a local senior center.
On that workshop Tuesday I taught a small group the basis of my pain relief techniques.
I did not know it at the time, but Pete was very uncomfortable in public places
where he had to stand for any period of time. Between the pain and the fear of his
legs giving out, he had shied away from supermarkets and such places for more than
a decade. Pete was attentive but, in a short workshop of about fifteen seniors,
he received no special attention.. At the next session, a week later, I noted that
Pete was missing. I later was told that Pete had died of natural causes, in his
sleep, on Friday night.
I was upset for Pete, and upset for myself. If only I had seen Pete earlier, I could
have helped him to relieve his pain in his last days.
Then I received, through a friend, news from Pete’s wife. It seems that Pete had
taken the class very seriously and applied the pain relief techniques continually.
As a result, he had a breakthrough with his pain. He went out. He played with
friends. He went to the supermarket. Pete was free of the tyranny of his pain for
the first time in years. And he thoroughly enjoyed that freedom for those final
three days of his life. Pete’s wife was, at the same time, devastated by her loss
and grateful for the quality of Pete’s last days. I, too, was in awe and gratitude
for the part I was given to play in the last earthly days of a stranger in pain.
I feel blessed to have produced a few “miracles” like Pete’s, and many more “minor
miracles” of reduced pain and suffering.
I often say, “Been told ‘learn to live with it’? I’ll show you how to live without
it.” If you’re ready to learn, click here to find out how to get started.
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, it lasts forever.” ~Lance Armstrong
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields. And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.” ~Kahlil Gibran