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Scars run deep

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I had been having trouble with my bite for the past few weeks and it did not seem like it was going away anytime soon.  The symptoms all pointed to some variant of TMJ.  For something like this, your consulting options are your PCP, dentist or a TMJ specialist.  I decided to visit my PCP. I was able to get an appointment right away.  It was a fairly routine visit. We exchanged pleasantries. I then explained my problem. She examined my jaw, felt around for any glands, and found nothing amiss. Her suggested course of action for me was: cold presses as many times as possible during the day and potentially some over the counter medication to help with the inflammation.  She also thought it would be a good idea for me to visit my dentist too and get a second look. I thanked her and was on my way. I didn’t think much of it and filed it away as a very routine visit with the doctor.

I did the usual things for the remainder of the day, read before retiring for the night. In the middle of the night, I woke up, startled.  I just had a dream. The setting for the dream was a hospital. There were three people in a room. My wife lay on the bed, resting, and recovering from a fresh surgery.  Just out of earshot, I am having a conversation with her doctor. Although he has removed the tumor, he says another one has just grown. Just as he is describing this, I look towards my wife and I see even more tumors appear, spontaneously. She doesn’t know any of this yet. I start to dread what is in store for her, thinking about the painful surgeries to follow and the torturous recovery and follow ups she has to endure. I think this is just not fair. That’s when I woke up. A great relief came over me as soon as I realized that it was a dream and she would be spared the agony.

I don’t remember too many dreams since my wife’s passing that involve her. What was particularly striking about this dream was its proximity to my own hospital visit. I least expected it, but there it is, the subconscious processing the day’s events. As I reflected on it, it was a stark reminder of the stressful times we had been together, the intense pain and suffering she had endured, and I as a caregiver, had witnessed. It also reminded me why, at that time, I had made peace with the idea of letting her go.

The empathy for another’s suffering and the intensity of grief we feel for the loss of someone dear, is a uniquely human trait.  The scars of a traumatic event run very deep indeed.

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Written by asterix98

March 5, 2012 at 1:05 am

Pain is inevitable, suffering is an option

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In an earlier post, I had discussed an essay titled It’s a Beautiful Life. The author’s main point serves as the title of this blog. In some sense, she was pointing out that you do have control over the “experience of pain”. Today, I read an article entitled “Rewiring the Brain to Ease pain” . It opens with “how you think about pain can have a major impact on how it feels”. Much of this is borne out by a bunch of recent neuroscientific studies as well as “mind-body” therapies. Other techniques include meditation and distraction.

Behold the power of the “mind”.

Written by asterix98

November 16, 2011 at 6:54 am

here and now, pain and suffering

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The Hindu is a daily newspaper published in India. This is the newspaper I grew up with.  I would occasionally do the crossword (pretty cryptic and fun) and also read a “spiritual” column on the last page. Some have been wonderfully informative and stayed with me.

More recently, my parents have been subscribing to the weekend edition of the Times of India, another newspaper. In the past couple of visits to India,  I have gravitated to one particular section, called the Speaking Tree. The topics are diverse, ranging from sex (yes! you read it right) to religion and spirituality (in my mind they are not the same thing but in common usage they are used interchangeably).

I came across a very well written article called It’s a Beautiful Life. The author has had three relapses of cancer. Here she provides a perspective of what it means to be in the here and now (much more eloquent than the new age waxings of many useless books out there on this topic). What is also interesting, is her beautiful, poignant yet matter of fact, presentation of the distinction between pain and suffering. In her words ‘Pain is inevitable, but suffering is an option’.

(This also reminded me of a poster we had in the living room of my childhood home – “Change your thoughts and you change your world”).

Written by asterix98

July 11, 2011 at 1:53 am

Posted in pain and suffering

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