Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pain

Radiation treatment #29 today! Six left! I hurt - like having a new nursing baby, a breast infection, and virgin cracked bleeding nipples, on top of, and under, a terrible sunburn. Probably too much information, but this 10" x 6" rectangular area encompassing my left breast and surrounding tissue is bright red, blistering, peeling, and throbbing.

My doctor took one look at it today and said, "Oh my word, that has got to hurt." I'm thinking, "Have you ever had your boob feel like . . . " But I didn't. Instead I told him I wanted to quit radiation, right then, never come back, never ever ever experience pain such as this. He gave me more pain pills, another topical cream (although nothing is working right now), and raised his right arm to the square promising me I would begin to feel better in 72 hours, "except for the one area we're now treating."

One of my favorite storytellers, Kevin Kling, said, "You cannot judge another man's pain." I've mentioned this quote before, but I'm doing it again.

My beautiful niece, Sabrina, had a baby girl on Saturday - Cesarean. Emeri was bottom-down breach, with no room to turn. All is well.

My friend, Taylor, had a meniscus tear and had surgery a few weeks ago. He's walking just fine, in fact went to Vegas two days after surgery.

A lady in my church congregation had a portion of her breast removed late last spring. She received radiation. She has just begun regaining her energy. 

These three stories have something in common - happy endings. That's what we like, correct? Or is it?

Women who tell pregnancy and birthing stories often have this way of discounting another's story, if the woman hasn't had morning sickness, varicose veins, headaches, and a hard long labor and delivery. It's almost as if she hasn't "earned" her right to tell her pregnancy story. We want to - "well, that's nothing, I had . . . "

Surgery stories are the same. "Oh, you're lucky you had same day, why my surgery was extra long, I had to spend 2 days in the hospital, and 6 weeks on crutches." Again, we're telling folks such as Taylor that he can't whine, because he hasn't really had pain.

I've noticed a tendency similar to these with breast cancer. And, I'll admit, here, that when I learned my friend was still tired from simple radiation, 9 months later, I wanted to slap her, tell her she had no idea what tired was, pain was, until she'd had chemotherapy, hydration 3 times a week, and no hair!

But shouldn't I celebrate with, rather than slap, those whose road has been a little easier, a little less bumpy? Shouldn't we congratulate those we come into contact with for their smooth recovery, for dodging the puke-in-the-toilet-all-day, fire-hose-diarrhea bullet?

My hair is growing back, I'm not chemo sick; in fact, I look pretty normal, yet the pain is brutal. Pain I am choosing not to show (just don't hug me, brush up against me, ask me to wear any undergarments - I can barely put on a baggy shirt right now). Yet on a scale of 1-10, I'm claiming 8 today.
 
Who am I to judge another's pain? I can barely, on a scale of 1-10, judge my own. 







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