In this month's issue of National Geographic there is an article on pain (paywall). Has information on what pain is, what causes pain, and how we handle pain. Particularly interesting is the information on those who don't handle pain the way most of us do, such as a woman who really doesn't feel pain. At least not as intently as most of us do.
In the same issue there is an article on pain killers, and especially on the addiction that sometimes occurs in those who use the opioids. It is a devastating addiction, and ranks up there along with alcohol and nicotine. The article in question also prompted this observation:
An addiction is not a moral issue, an addiction just is.
Properly speaking an addiction is just a physical dependency on something. An addiction has nothing to do with any moral quality a person may have or not have. My Dad was addicted to nicotine, his moral standing played no role in the matter. An alcoholic is just addicted to alcohol, his ethics mean nothing when you get right down to it.
The next to the last time I was in a crisis house the staff insisted that everybody attend AA meetings. Meaning everybody. The assumption being that if you had to be there you had to be an alky. That is prejudice and it drove me out of the house. The staff of a crisis house is not supposed to be there to bully the clients, they're supposed to be there to help the clients. Still, bully they did, and that means I can't turn to something like a crisis house in the case of a crisis.
What it comes down to is, there are no moral answers to addiction. Dealing with addiction involves withdrawal and will power. You need to stop drinking, you need to be a stubborn bitch and have a community around you that understands and won't moralize.
After my operation I'll be taking Oxybutynin at 5mg 3 times a day for the pain. I may find myself addicted to it. I'm not going to like it, for the addiction will mean that I'm being controlled by an outside agency and I don't like that. It's bad enough I have to take Prozac for my depression, but at least there it's a chronic condition that I won't recover from. In time I will recover from the surgery and I won't need the Oxy to kill the pain for the pain will go away.
Now one thing the article on pain notes is that most people given a distraction really don't notice their pain. When he was a nine year old my brother, John, needed to have a gash sewn up. So the doctor gave him a comic book to read as the stitches were put in, and John never noticed when the sewing started. Even today when I'm distracted the pain I'm having at the moment sort of disappears. It works because we stink at multitasking, we just ain't smart enough to handle more than one detail at a time. I can't. I can notice a number of details all at once, but I can't handle them and that can lead me to freaking out.
Which leads me to two more observations. First, that for me knowing my problem is being dealt with will relax me and with that relaxation my pain will fade into the background. Second, my accepting the pain means I will relax and the pain I feel will ease. This will most likely be the case with any pain I have post surgery.
And all this thinking I've been doing has inspired another post, but since it is another topic entirely it can wait for later.
Hope you're all doing well, and remember that pain is your body's way of telling you, "Stop that!"