Aches and Pains

            I turned fifty last year and it seems that I have been living with a lot more aches and pains since I celebrated that dreaded birthday. I’m not sure if my body is actually breaking down or if it’s just because I’m having a hard time dealing with the fact that I am fifty. I obsessively go to the gym three to five days a week, try to eat right—whatever really means—and I run with my dog roscoe when my right hip isn’t acting up.

I’m convinced my hip is weather sensitive because it really bothers me when stormy weather is approaching. Some nights it is bad enough that I wake from a sound sleep with the pain and cannot go back to sleep until I take three or four ibuprofrin. I can usually get back to sleep about fifteen to twenty minutes later, after the drug kicks in.  Sometimes late at night I begin to feel sorry for my self and ask God why I have to live with all this pain.

Then I remember what a friend with an artificial hip told me. “When the pain becomes bad enough, you’ll beg for a hip replacement.” That’s when I thank God that the pain is not bad enough that I would willingly let a doctor to slice my hip open, saw my hip joint from my leg bone, and replace it with an artificial steel joint. In this light, the pain is just not that bad. But at least I have a choice of treatment for pain relief and, based on recovery of people I know who have had this surgery, it’s a good choice when my pain becomes unbearable.

I remember the pain that my mom lived with day in and day out at the end of her life. During her last two years, she went to a half dozen doctors that could offer no diagnosis for the source of her pain or simply offer relief from her debilitating pain. She was eventually diagnosed with cancer of the spine; however, this diagnosis came too late for any treatment, even palliative treatment, to be effective. The combination of taking narcotic pain medication for eighteen months, mistreatment by her pain specialists, and the depression caused by unrelenting chronic pain made her weary. During an extended hospital stay, she gave up hope for recovery and simply wanted to die to escape the body that was too painful for her to carry.

My mom lived with back pain most of her life because a severe scoliosis and major surgery and treatment during the 1930’s. When she was a young woman, doctors told her that she would not be able to carry and give birth to children. My sister and I are living proof that these doctors were wrong. She never complained of the pain she lived with and always cared for those around her. At her funeral, her friends and workplace colleagues shared countless stories of her caring and compassion. She was nursing home administrator for over twenty five years. It was clear from these stories that she cared deeply for the day to day caregivers—nurses and nurses-aids—and less for the doctors who rarely visited their patients at the nursing home. They would only do so if her and her nurses insisted that a patient was too sick to travel to the doctor’s office, which was often the case.

So my pain pales in comparison to the pain that my mom lived with all her life. This does not make my pain go away; but it makes it easier to bear and makes me grateful that I’m really in good health.   


Copyright © 2007 Mark Holmberg. All rights reserved.