When I began running in my late forties I developed a
new relationship with pain. I had opportunities to reflect on many new and
unusual types of discomfort. It is not that I had never suffered unease
before.One doesn’t reach her late
forties without a few of life’s bumps and bruises. The running pains simply
offered new insights into the other kinds of pains that life presents. Running
allowed me time to reflect upon the various things that cause discomfort, the
relationship that I had with discomfort, and the need to endure or change the
circumstances surrounding each kind of discomfort.
Pain is a
funny thing. It is difficult to measure, especially when it is being
experienced by someone else.Some
medical caregivers have adopted a Smilie face chart to help identify the level
of discomfort a patient is experiencing. They compare the expression on the
patient’s face to a caricature on a poster in an attempt to assess the
patient’s pain level. Unfortunately, caregivers are not always familiar enough
with the patient to discern the nature of his or her expression. Perhaps, the
patient is simply unhappy with the misfortune of being in need of care. Another
tool used for assessing pain is a number scale. The patient is asked to rate
their pain with ten being the worst pain they have ever experienced and one
indicating no discomfort. These assessments can help, but pain and discomfort
are difficult to compare from one individual to another. Some people are as
disturbed by the anticipation of pain as by the actual physical irritation.
Others have a high tolerance for aches and irritations, while some are
uncomfortable with any divergence from their normal level of well-being. I
don’t understand what makes you hurt, nor do you understand what bothers me
most and that is what makes pain so difficult to measure.
I have learned that discomfort is mostly a signal
that something has changed.Something
physical or emotional is different than usual and we don’t like the way it
feels. Naturally, the sufferer wants the discomfort to stop.In many situations, eliminating the thing
that is causing the hurt is the best practice. Allowing a wound to heal,
removing the offender whether it is inanimate or human, or taking the sufferer
out of the uncomfortable situation are all ways that the pain can be stopped.
This section of the book is dedicated to sharing
experiences that illustrate when and how pain should and can be eliminated by
stopping the very activity that is causing the discomfort. The challenge is
learning to discern when stopping is truly the answer.