Thoughts on Pain and Things…
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Several people have wanted to discuss my rationale in considering… self harm or euthanasia. Pretty words for an ugly set of acts; cutting myself or committing suicide.
Why would a person with everything I have, a loving family, a strong faith, and a moderately high intellect consider such .. Drastic… acts? What could possibly be *so* bad as to cause me to wish my own death, literally, not just figuratively. Pain. Pure and simple.
It might seem I dwell on this topic, but I have no real choice. IT is a part of my very essence at this point. It is severe enough at all times to warrant a significant portion of my attention and energy to maintain control against it. It intrudes upon my sleep. It wakes me in the morning and knocks me into a coma at irregular times. Everything I see around me is colored in its’ Price in Pain for me. Getting up to make coffee, walking to the front door, getting into or out of the car, standing for more than a few moments; ALL are almost more than I can bear.
You have to realize I wasn’t raised to *ever* consider self-destruction. Pain was just something you lived through; dealt with, worked your way around. As a male, I was taught time and again that sometimes you just had to do something, no matter how unpleasant or painful it was. And I have lived by that creed for over 40 years. The last ten, in mind-killing agony.
Many of you endure pain. The kind of pain I am talking about. I don’t try and “compare” pain. Each person experiences it differently, and each person has their own “Final Limit” or “Breaking Point”. We don’t usually dwell on that though, do we? We are far too busy just trying to make it through each day. To survive, to think of such things. We know *OUR* pain is bad, but have no idea how badly others are hurting. We TRY to be understanding, but all we can do is come up with rough approximations of how bad something feels. Here’s my list of Pain and how I rate them:
Kidney stone? About a hard 7 or light 8.
Sprained ankle? Anywhere from an easy 6 to hard 8.
Broken bones? 7 to 9. More if they are bad or inflamed.
Abscessed/open tooth? 8 or light 9.
*My* sciatic pain? 6 on a *very* good day *WITH* treatment.. To a hard 9. No holds barred agony.
I have a high pain tolerance. How do I know this? I went a month with a dislocated right knee. A year with all of the cartilage in my wrist blown out. (While I helped pick up and deliver TV’s.) I have suffered many injuries, none as painful or unendurable as the pain in my side.
It feels like… a red-hot iron rod shoved through the front of my left hip/waist up and through the middle of my back. It is *always* there. Always. The kiss of ice cold steel would ne *nothing* compared to the injury I already endure.
If you have ever had a *terrible* toothache, that you could not lessen the pain of, you have an inkling of the kind of agony I am speaking of. After a very short period of time without something to lessen the pain, you are prepared to do practically *Anything* to make it stop. ANYTHING. At a certain time, you are even willing to take a set of pliers to yourself if that will stop the pain. You search the medicine cabinet for *anything* to lessen the hurt. You call friends and ask *them* if they have anything. You even try alcohol, all to no avail! You might even go in to the Emergency Department seeking aid!
Normally, we have a “buffer” we fall back on during these kinds of hardship. These kinds of pain. We use directed meditation, breathing techniques, High-focus activities, music, even going so far as causing ourselves other, often *severe*, pain to try and draw some of the agony away. To try and gain a little control.. Like labor, the pain seems to come in wave after wave. If you can only make it through *this* wave.. If you can only hold out a *little* longer… If…. You.. Can…
And at some point your ability to even think becomes too much. You are a writhing animal. A mewling … thing. No longer even a rational, thinking human, just a wounded animal. At that point, you will grasp at *any* solution at hand. ANY SOLUTION. Even death. When you reach *THAT* level of pain, (*NOTHING* else matters but making it *STOP*! And stop RIGHT FRIGGIN’ NOW!
If you have ever been there, at *that* level of pain, how did *You* get through? I threw pictures of my loving family, of my mountains, of the peace and beauty I had seen and been a part of at It. I replayed my life, day for day, feeding everything to the Pain. Everything I had, I used to hold back the Beast. Every emotion, every thought, every memory. Good, bad, or indifferent… Everything.
When you know that relief is coming, it helps you to hold out a little while until the “cavalry” arrives! You suffer through it mindlessly, minutes becoming hours until the next little bit of relief is in place and *something* takes away even a small portion of that agony away…. And, like waking from a terrible nightmare, you may wonder to yourself how you made it through.
But I have run out of things to feed the beast. In my head, I *know* I have done beautiful, even magnificent, things! Yet I no longer feel anything about them. I *know* that I have loving children and a keen intellect, but I feel… nothing. I have by my side one of the most wonderful, caring, intelligent women on the planet whom I *know* loves me and that I love with all my life, yet I feel…. Almost *nothing*. In fact, *that* is the only thing holding me back from reaching across my desk this minute and bleeding out my life’s blood on the carpet.
Sorry. I probably shouldn’t be *that* direct. But I have little time for subtlety at this point.
The level of medication I am on is simply not enough to hold back this monster. Even under *heavy* morphine doses, it only lowered my pain by around 30%. I was a virtual prisoner in my own home. I missed countless important, to me and other I care about or love, engagements. Everything was carefully considered and medicated towards.
Now that I am on less than a quarter of that dose, I live in constant agony. Constant … Pain. Such a little word for so terrible a thing.
See, I have become *very* self aware over the last few years and have become even more so over the last four months. I know my limits. My abilities. My limitations. Much to my chagrin, I found out that I was nothing more than an everyday, fragile animal. One that had reached the end of its ability to perform up to my design specifications.
Oops. Yeah. The Machine. I mention it occasionally in passing. Anyone that has had psychological training knows what I am saying there. I’ll try and put it into everyday terms. Here goes….
Everyone has their limits. Every Human. That is the reason torture is not a very reliable means of getting precise information. At some point, the person will tell you *anything* to make the pain stop. If you go beyond that point, they lose the very will to live, and suddenly no matter *what* terrible things are done to their body, they no longer react. Their mind has been “broken”. They have separated themselves from the situation and have hidden their personality behind an iron hard wall which can not be breached by mere pain. You have their body, but *not* their mind.
I am nearing that limit, I think. I sit behind my eyes (“feels” like 3 or 4 feet) and watch as this… body.. goes through its pitiable motions. I calculate. I observe. I watch. But trying to engage on a personal basis has become… difficult. At best., Most of the time… I “Feel”.. nothing. I “watch” as that separate .. Thing.. My body, is crushed by wave after wave of pain. But it doesn’t really touch me. It cannot.
I know what the words like “Flat Affect”, and “Disassociative Disorder” truly *mean*. On a cerebral basis.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still “here”.. kind of. I can smile, frown, or.. Not. It’s all the same to me at this point. I “feel”.. almost nothing. Why cause needless suffering to those around me? I can still “Play” nice, and do. None better. Trained for it all of my life. But I have found that more and more I can override the natural reactions of this body. From flame… pain… hunger.. Thirst. Fear. Guilt. Remorse. They simply do not.. exist.. To The Machine. To that thing that is “Me”. About the *only* emotion I have easy access to is anger… and even that is severely muted. It is what it is.
And the first time I am completely unshielded from the pain…. This.. Machine… will take actions. Complete the protocol. Period. As sure as the sun rises. Or the grass grows.
Nothing personal. Just one more to add to the books.
I *know*, cerebrally, the carnage that it will cause to those who care for me. The hole it will leave. The scars. And I *truly*, with all of my essence, wish there was some other option, *Some* other path. But the likelihood is that there is *not*. I’m good until the doctors’ appointments on the 12th and 13th most likely. I have minimal, but necessary meds until then. After that….
I guess we shall see how this plays out.
Sometimes, in “Real Life”, there is no ‘Happy Ending”. No last minute rescue. The Pain has won at long last. But I gave it a glorious fight! And will continue to do so… for as long as I can.
*That*, I Promise.