Pain — What Does it Mean?

Maybe it’s my line of work, but I certainly hear a lot about pain, and see a lot of pain, physical and emotional. One of my coping mechanisms, perhaps, is my inability to see pain in myself. I feel removed from it, I don’t embrace it, and I refuse to feel it.

Case in point: last month at work, my gut and my back hurt. Mostly my back. I chalked it up to 30+ years in my chosen career. And my horse habit. It was Saturday, so my chances of doing anything about it were slim, to none.

Although there seems to be a lot of people who use the Emergency Department (ED) as their primary care physician, I am not one of them. In fact, when I see how impacted ours is on a regular basis, I become almost enraged at people who choose this way of managing their healthcare needs. My point is, I wasn’t about to check myself into the ED.

Anyway, as the night wore on, the pain became almost unbearable. It hurt to sit, it hurt to stand, I couldn’t concentrate, and I was restless and miserable.

My co-workers were concerned. They told me over and over again to check in to the ED. “Who’s going to do my job?” I asked. “It’s not like I can call someone to come in and take the phone from me!” and, “Besides, as long as I have to make decisions tonight, I can’t take pain meds, so what’s the point?” SO MANY EXCUSES!

Finally, simply because I was browbeaten into it, I allowed myself to be escorted to the ED (they didn’t trust me to actually follow-through) where my other co-workers checked me in. I refused narcotics until I was able to give away the phone and secure my replacement, but as soon as that happened, I succumbed to the sweet relief offered by Dilaudid.

After diagnostic tests and a physical exam, I was told I had gallstones.

The surgeon admitted me, and I had my gallbladder removed the next day. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask for the stones, but they were big, and they were blocking both the ducts as pictured above.

I never like to be on the other side of the bed, so to speak, but I will say that my people took very good care of me. I am proud to work among so many caring and competent individuals. Once I gave up the fight about whether or not to be evaluated by a physician, I was a pretty good patient. I only used my call light when absolutely necessary, I didn’t complain about the hospital food, and I silenced my own beeping IV.

Whenever something bad happens to me, I always wonder why or how it happened, what I can do to prevent the same misery in the future, and what I can learn from the whole ordeal.

Why did it happen?

Because I am female, fair, fat and forty (at least).

How can I prevent the same misery?

Well, I am lucky. The gallbladder is gone, so I won’t ever have the exact same problem again.

What can I learn?

I would be wise to work on the only one of my risk factors I can control, the fat problem. Therefore, sugar is not my friend. It tells me it can make me feel good, it can help my stress, it can release endorphins in my brain, and it even tries to convince me that it’s harmless. All lies.

In this case, my pain was a physical problem that needed to be fixed. Fixing the problem gave me new hope, because I honestly believed my back was never going to be the same again.

A month later, my promise to myself is to take advantage of this opportunity to strengthen myself physically, in an effort to prevent other bad things from interrupting my usually pleasurable life!

RN by trade, writer by passion, I like to consider all angles of a problem and find solutions.