Pain. How do you feel when you see that word? I decided to look it up in the dictionary and I found this:
2. Usually localized physical suffering associated with bodily disorder
3. Acute emotional distress or suffering: grief
And its origin is Middle English, from Anglo-French peine, from Latin poena, from Greek poine, all meaning payment or penalty. In Sanskrit its cayate he meaning revenges.
Does that mean we all have to pay our dues in this world?
I have no idea. But I paid mine over Easter weekend. Actually, it all started last Wednesday. I got a very bad earache. On Thursday the pain was so severe, that I went to a walk-in clinic with my husband. They gave me antibiotics and drops, but they did not help and the pain kept escalating. By Saturday, I was experiencing the most intense pain I have ever felt in my life. That is not an exaggeration. I have never experienced giving physical birth, but one woman who went through acute ear pain explained that having a serious ear infection/ruptured eardrum was worse than the pain she felt giving birth to her three children.
On Saturday, my husband took me to ER. The doctor said I had damaged and possibly ruptured my right eardrum, but there was something else going on. I'd have to wait until Monday to see an Ear, Nose, Throat doctor.
What? Monday? Oh...my...god. Monday?
He gave me Percocet, anti-nausea medication and told me not to use the antibiotics I was on, but to replace it with antibiotic drops.
First of all, I don't like pain meds, so I tried to endure without them until I felt so much pain that I was shaking...yes, shaking all over. I did not sleep, I did not eat, I just sat there and felt the pain. I actually went into the pain eventually and started to observe it. I observed the shaking, I observed throbbing, I observed stabbing...like knives stabbing into my ear very deeply. I breathed through my nose and every now and then a pause would come...a place beyond the pain, even though it was still there. I was in it...going through it...feeling it, as agonizing as it was. I was feeling it.
I could do nothing. It was a beautiful weekend—one that was meant to be spent with family and friends. I felt I was in a time warp.
Finally, after utter exhaustion and not feeling sure I could survive another night, I took the pain meds and at least got some rest, as groggy and strange as that rest was.
On Monday, I begged the Ear, Nose, Throat doctor to see me. The receptionist said, "Sorry, no appointments are available until Tuesday evening." This is where I started to beg. I begged her. I said, "Oh please, can you just squeeze me in for 10 minutes on Monday morning. I was just in ER and referred here." She said, "Just a moment." She came back to the phone and said, "Okay, come at 11:30AM, the doctor will see you then."
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!
The doctor was a calm Indian man. He knew what he was doing. He looked in my ear and said. "Oh, you've been on the wrong meds. You have Otomycosis (fungal infection inside the ear). You need different drops."
He then spent part of his lunch break suctioning out my ear. It was terrible, but it stopped the pain. I no longer have to take anything for pain. I wanted to kiss him. I still have a blocked right ear, tinnitus and a possible eardrum rupture, but no more serious pain.
What did I learn from this experience?
Well, we all want to have a good time. We want life to be pleasurable and fun, but pain will come to all of us and sometimes when least expected. I learned that I can get THROUGH pain and even experience its edges.
Pain makes us vulnerable and makes us feel what it means to actually be living. There's some power in that. It makes us feel gratitude for all the people in our lives and for all the experiences we have had. We realize that people want to reach out and help us. They want to use any way possible to alleviate the suffering. I believe it's because they have also felt pain and know what it is like.
There's something in all of us that is shared. Perhaps we are greater than this one small body. We are part of a bigger body of life and when one small part is suffering, an entire network of humans (and sometimes animals and other life forms) reach out to try and maintain the balance again.
Humans are all like tiny cells in a body. When one part is diseased, a whole network of good cells reach out to help. Eventually the body either dies with all the good love around it, or it is healed and restored to balance.
Perhaps, then, love is key. Love for ourselves and others. Maybe it's love that actually heals?
I am tremendously grateful for my husband. Wow, what an amazing, strong, balanced "little cell" to have right by my side. He surely helped in my recovery. I'm thankful to all the people who offered help, love, support, comfort. I grateful for the doctor who took his lunch break to help me. I'm grateful to my colleagues who scrambled together to find a sub for my classes this week and told me not to worry. All these "little cells" working together to maintain the balance of the larger body of life.
I'm still healing, but can finally move about. I will remember this time as a powerful experience and a reminder to be a "good cell."
Have you ever experienced tremendous pain? What did you learn from it?