Saturday, May 7, 2016

Learning from Pain

Yesterday I went to the medical center to have a small, simple procedure. When I went in for prep, the nurse put on a wristband in case, for some reason, something went amiss and I had to be admitted. I signed a release for them to give me a blood transfusion, should that become necessary. Neither of these were disturbing. My mind fully understood that they were routine. Even when the patch was placed for the heart monitor, I thought nothing of it. These pieces of the prep were non-invasive.

I knew I was going to get an IV. I thought the needle stick would be in my arm, at the crease of the elbow where others have been. But, no, the nurse felt (both physically, with the tapping fingers, and mentally) that the best vein would be in my hand. I was mildly curious about this. I have the commonplace fear of or aversion to needles. In general, I realize the pain goes quickly so I wasn't too tense about it. She placed a hot pack on my hand and sprayed a topical anesthetic on it as well. When she stuck the needle under the skin, it felt like she was driving a nail into my hand. I could not believe the sensation. She stopped fairly quickly and asked, "Do you want me to continue? or take it out and try again after giving you another shot with an anesthetic? That will definitely numb it. I'm not even in the vein yet." I hesitated about two seconds. "Take it out." She gave me the shot and everything went well. She added that I was lucky to get her because most of the other nurses were not trained to do the anesthetic shot.

The remainder of the procedure was a walk in the park, comparatively. Wow! If someone had told me when I was going in that the needle stick would be the most painful and problematic part, I would have laughed. No longer.

What came to me afterward, even as she was going to get the new needle and the anesthetic, was an image of friends in the hospital with bruises on their arms or hands from multiple needle sticks. I found myself marveling anew at their courage in facing even those repeated sticks. Along with that, I discovered another moment for prayer for them and gratitude for how strong and courageous they are.

Each of us faces pain, both physical and emotional. For each person, the pain is different. I endured the dental jackhammer used to remove a tooth a couple of years ago. Yet this needle stick overwhelmed me.

This put another issue I face into perspective as well. Currently, there is a bully in my life. Although I recognize she is in pain (because that's what makes bullies), I thought she should be able to easily overcome it. This event for me revealed that I am probably incorrect in my assumption. Maybe, whatever the emotional pain she is suffering, overwhelms her like the needle stick did me. Another teaching to ponder.

What pain overwhelms you? How do you handle moving forward with it? What do you do to get beyond it? How does your pain help you understand the pain of others?

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