Monday, August 6, 2012

A Plane Above the Hurting

I'm writing this at ten in the morning on Monday, which is rare for me. I'm usually done and posted by the day before. But I spent Saturday and Sunday in a state of drug-induced befuddlement.

I wish I had a good rock-star, hotel-wrecking, naked-people-everywhere story, but I don't. In my case, it comes down to a kidney stone.

I thought I had hurt my back on Saturday. I told my wife, the nurse, about this. She looked at my posture and read my random grunts and laughed a short laugh. "No, you have a kidney stone."

Sure enough...

On the way to the ER, it felt like a Great White Shark, with the flat teeth of a horse, was clamped onto my left side and using me for chewing gum. I have heard how much kidney stones hurt. Let it suffice to say that the stories are true. (I have seen some accounts from women who maintain that the pain is worse than that of childbirth labor.)

Anyway, my bloggable moment from this experience came on the way to the hospital. My brain went right into "search" mode. I started trying to identify the pain as an illusion -- it is just a perception, so its interpretation can be controlled, I thought. I tried; it worked a little.

As someone who probably exhibits symptoms of ADD, I also watched the different paths of my thoughts take off from the center of my consciousness like sun rays in all directions; different attempts to make sense out of the intensity of the pain. I didn't so much take comfort from this as, in an involuntary kind of way, to use it to transcend the pain. I kicked into intellectual mode, moving away from fight-or flight and, in this way, helped myself to think on a plane above the hurting. Not only was I thinking about the situation, but I was watching the patterns of my thought as they unfurled. In that way, I guess, I was sort of twice-removed from the pain.

In the hospital, I carried on conversations and answered questions. I laughed at jokes. The pain -- or, at least, my reaction to it -- was under control. It was there, don't get me wrong. But it was kind of standing at the door, waiting, instead of pounding with chain gauntlet-clad fists to get in.

Then, they hit me with some Dilauded, which made all well in the world. In fact, that stuff almost made the whole experience worth it. Holy moly.

I'm not trying to take credit for being some transcendental yogi who can levitate and stop his own heartbeat, but to make an observation of how my analytical mind was a blessing, at least in this case.

It is interesting to me how people deal with their own pain. The nurse, who took care of me, said she had seen grown men cry over kidney stones. That, in itself, is fascinating to me. Physical pain never makes me cry. Emotional, yes -- but never physical. I guess it is another testimony to how differently all of our minds work...

Have you ever thought about your own reaction to pain? Do you focus on the pain, or does your brain look for logical fire-escapes, like mine does? I'd be interested to hear.

No comments:

Post a Comment