Observation on Pain

Physical pain is something a good majority of people don’t think about on a regular basis.  I find it interesting how our brains change the memory of pain.  What would happen if women really did remember the exact pain of childbirth?  Time seems to dull the memory of the pain. 

I live in constant discomfort.  There is not a day that goes by when I don’t feel some kind of mild pain or discomfort in relation to my uterus.  Because it is constant, I have become accustomed to it.  It’s just there.  For the past couple of weeks I have been debating whether or not to go through with my hysterectomy.  “It’s not so bad, what’s a little discomfort?” are thoughts that have run through my head.  And then it hits.  For two weeks out of the month I am in almost unbearable pain.  I can hardly walk upright, I can’t focus on anything for more than two minutes, and there is no comfort at all.  Right now, I would be willing to take out my own uterus with a rusted razor blade if it would stop this pain.

In a week, though, I’ll be considering not going through with the surgery again.  How do I so easily move this pain to the back of my mind?

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3 responses to “Observation on Pain

  1. Strictly from the point of view of chronic pain, I would say — Have the surgery. Push the doubts, rather than the pain, to the back of your mind.

    I had literally no idea how badly chronic pain was affecting my every waking moment until I had a 75% remission this year, after more than twenty years of daily pain. It affects you in ways you don’t really know about; it affects your mood, your ability to think, and perhaps most insidiously of all, your capacity for emotional progress. It takes a huge amount of emotional and mental energy to live a “normal” life with that kind of daily distraction.

    I can say without hesitation that I would not be doing the very difficult psychological and emotional work I’m currently dealing with, if I were still managing chronic pain. Mind you, I’m in a different kind of pain now, but this pain has the potential to change my life for the better, whereas the physical pain had nothing positive about it.

    Of course my own particular condition had none of the complex emotional components that are inherent in your consideration of your hysterectomy, but simply from the POV of someone who really does know what chronic pain is like … your life will change without it, I can promise you that. And it will probably change in ways that would be far more difficult, or even impossible, while it is still there.

  2. I’m hoping that after this surgery I will be able to feel the way you do, David. Right now, as the date gets ever closer, my brain can’t stop with the “what-ifs.” I fear that they’ll go in and find something worse, like cancer. Or that I will have a heart attack or stroke during surgery and die. I know these are slightly irrational, but I can’t seem to stop them. I am trying to stay calm, but it’s getting more difficult.

  3. I think those kinds of fears are perfectly normal. And of course there is a risk with any kind of major surgery.

    You are, as I know, a highly organized person. I tend to be that way a bit, too. If I were in a position similar to yours, my greatest worry would be what might happen to my kids if something went wrong during the surgery. So I think what I might do is talk to people about getting a sort of safety net … obviously they’d still have your husband, but maybe it would make you feel better if you had a sort of mental contingency plan for their care? My mother and I did this when my dad had quadruple bypass surgery … he wasn’t particularly concerned about what would happen to us financially, etc. if he died on the table,but we were, so we made sure that our friends and family were aware of the ways in which we might need them if something went wrong. It really helped to calm our anxiety level. I’m wondering if something similar might be useful for you?

    It also makes perfect sense that you’re afraid they’ll find something worse. But if that is the case, the something worse would be there whether you have the surgery or not… except you wouldn’t know, and therefore you wouldn’t be able to take action to help yourself. It’s better to know, I think. Plus, with all the testing they’ve done, they would probably know by now if you had any dangerous type of cancer … your blood work would show it. I believe you’ll be OK. And I believe you’ll be glad you went through with it, as difficult as it will be to get there.

    Do you know whether there’s any kind of support group for women who have had, or are having, this type of surgery? It might be worthwhile to ask your doctor. This is such a major trauma; I’d be surprised if there weren’t some kind of peer support/information exchange available. Someone who has been through it would be invaluable as a resource.

    I don’t know whether you know Lydia …she writes on WordPress as The Little Fluffy Cat. She wrote a wrenching essay on another site about her own hysterectomy, and she is one of the dearest, most generous, wisest, kindest people I’ve encountered on the Internet. I bet she’d be willing to lend an ear.

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