Fear of Pain
I’ve had three C-Sections in my life. One thing the doctors said about recovery was to take pain medicine before the pain hit hard.
During those recoveries, I learned that pain meds, in and of themselves, do not help the body heal. In the C-Section case, they take the edge off so a girl will be willing to sit up and walk around. The movement of the muscles is what helps the body heal.
Those were years ago and thankfully I’ve not had to have any other major surgeries, or been injured. Just recently I did have a very minor surgery. As you get older there are always things popping up in the skin that have to be dealt with. This was an in office procedure done with a local anesthetic. The worst part was the numbing shot, the nurse about had to hold me down it hurt so much. When I got all stitched up, I joked that I looked like I did in third grade when I fell off the monkey bars, splat, right onto my face. I can remember that moment like it was yesterday. It reminded me of the other time on that same playground when my foot slipped off the parallel bars I was walking on. I couldn’t breathe for what seemed like five minutes and ended up with a contused kidney. Nothing that a few days of rest wouldn’t fix.
Pain. It lodges in my memory. Oh wait, here’s a good one. After I stepped on a rusty nail and my foot swelled up, my Dad had to carry me into the doctors weeping because I was afraid of the pain that would come when the doctor examined it.
The rusty nail episode and my recent stitch up reminded me, all too well, that the fear of pain holds as much power as pain itself. At least for me.
When I got home from the dermatologist, I told a friend that I took alternating Motrin and Tylenol as if I had had major surgery! My face was so numb I was afraid of what it would feel like when the anesthetic wore off. I actually Do Not Know if I would have had pain. The fear of it kept me from finding out.
Huh. Of course pain comes in many more manifestations than the physical. I’m thinking that if I had to write a list, of things I have or have not done in my life due to the fear of emotional pain, it would be frightfully long.
My friend says that learning to “drop the ego,” is the only way to combat fear. I’ve been walking this path as I share my life struggles and missteps in writing. I find it very freeing. It still sucks when I gear up and do the thing I’m afraid of and pain comes anyway, yet I feel I gain so much courage, from facing fear.
Love this one from Epictetus, a reminder that nobody is perfect and what a waste it is to pretend so. It’s kinda funny, too.
“If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.” Epictetus
I read recently that “emotions are data, not directions.” Lawd, I don’t know where I saw it, but how true it is when it comes to fear. I’d say: feel the fear, but don’t follow it. Examine it. See if it is coming from a magnified ego. See if it is coming from false information or true. Look it in the face and shake hands with it! Before we say or do anything, ask the questions. Is this from fear? And if so, what am I afraid of? Then move. The little coping mechanisms we use to mask the fear of pain, or pain itself don’t actually work in the long run.
Take heed and don’t let this powerful force make your choices for you, like I did on my day of surgery.