Monday, April 7, 2014

Is It Really JUST Pain?

I'm going to be honest with you: I'm angry

Some people might say that's just negativity, bad energy that has no place in this world. Some might say that I am in pain today because of that anger. But anger, like pain, has it's place in the world. It tells us when something isn't right. When your body is in pain, it is trying to tell you something.  That's the function of pain. Our bodies respond to this pain by sending out naturally occurring endogenous opioids. Without pain, how else would we know when to seek help? 

Pain exists to let us know that something isn't right. When I speak with anyone who is having new or worsening pain, it scares me to hear them say that they will just ignore it. Pain is just pain, right? 


If there's one thing that I've learned over the last 15 years living with chronic pelvic pain, it is to trust my body. There are people out there who are trying to sell the idea that we can rise above our pain; that the pain we feel arises from some kind of negative energy, or personality fault. They want you to believe that you can completely think your way out of your pain; that it is somehow healthier to get in touch with that pain; that living with and getting in touch with your pain will somehow heal you. 

Now, as someone who has dabbled with alternative methods of pain management, like acupuncture, meditation, and yoga, I can tell you that those methods absolutely help me handle my pain, especially when combined with other forms of pain management. There are ways of focusing on your breath that can help you get into a calm, relaxed state of mind, and it can become easier to live through the pain. 

But severe pain should never be ignored. 

Last week, after two months of just dealing with my kidney pain, I peed blood. Not just trace amounts of blood...I'm talking real, red blood. As soon as I saw that blood, I knew it was time to stop pushing through my pain and go to the emergency room. It's a damn good thing I did. 

I had a kidney stone in my ureter, and my right kidney was swollen. With a history of retroperitoneal fibrosis, there is a concern that my stone might not pass by itself, and might cause a blockage. The past two days have been some of the most painful days I have ever experienced. On Saturday night, I took a pain pill before collapsing on the floor on the way to the bathroom, screeching in pain. My pain pitched, and pitched, and pitched, rather than getting better. Barely able to breathe, I sat in child's pose and just screamed. 

And then I stopped. My breathing calmed. My pain began to get just a little duller. My pain medication finally kicked in.

I've been peeing blood ever since. 

Pain is not something to be ignored. Pain does not reach a certain point and go no higher (which is why a 1-10 pain scale is all relative). Experiencing severe pain without relief can bring about harmful affects on  many systems of the body. Vomiting, increased heart rate and blood pressure, urinary retention, muscle spasm, fatigue, anxiety, and disorientation can all result from unrelieved severe pain. On top of that, ignoring severe pain can ultimately lead to chronic pain. 

Pain is there to tell you something is wrong. It is OK to seek relief for your pain in whatever way works best for you. You do not, and should not, need to suffer through this. And you most certainly should not be told that your pain originates from some emotional imbalance, or that your pain will go away if you just love yourself more, or get in touch with your womanhood.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.

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