An important woman in my life sent me this podcast about pain.
A 16-year-old girl named Devon, wakes up one day with an intense pain in her hip. Days go by and the pain gets worse as it spreads to other parts of her body. Doctors do all these tests that show a normal healthy girl. There was no solution. Prior to the pain, she was a dancer. Now pain dominates her life keeping her in bed and home from school. What could be wrong? One doctor finally gave her a name. It turns out Devon (and thousands of others) was suffering from "amplified pain syndrome."
This podcast follows Devon through a bizarre and extreme treatment program. The program “puts patients in more pain to make them better.” The trainers put them through so much pain that they learn to live with it and push through. For 9 hours a day, 5 days a week for 3-6 weeks they are put through intense painful experiences and asked about emotions instead of pain to retrain the brain to not feel pain. This is most people’s last resort. You have to be all in, dedicated, strong enough to push through this physically and psychologically hard program. (The podcast does a great job of going into detail about this program. I summed it up as short and as best I can)
I admire people who have gone through and will go through this program.
The podcast also looks at how our culture's massive effort to address pain has paradoxically increased it. Long ago there were only 4 vital signs checked by doctors. Now there are 5 and pain is the fifth. One doctor explains, “The more attention you pay to something, the bigger the problem gets.” So, are we growing our pain by focusing on it? I personally have a hard time not focusing on my pain… Do you focus on your pain?
One last quote that sticks with me… “He had a pain, I had a pain…. When pain takes us it’s hard to turn away”
Pain is easy to dismiss in other people. I might express how bad my head hurts to someone, and they might just say, yeah I have a headache too. Usually when you are in pain only your pain matters. Someone might brush off your pain because they are in pain. This happens to me way too often and it’s hard to not feel hurt by their lack of empathy sometimes.
Remember, you are allowed to feel pain, you are allowed to feel all the emotions that come with it. It might be hard to find people who truly listen. The road will be difficult but keep fighting. Devon is a fighter and her determination to fight the pain inspires me. I hope it inspires you too.