Thursday, April 12, 2012


My friend Doug, who is not a writer, but should be, visited me yesterday, and I told him about my recent experiences with pain. He told me that, as I writer, I should set down my thoughts and feelings before more time passes and I forget. Here are my thoughts and feelings.

The worst thing about pain is… I was about to say “the worst thing about pain is” and complete the statement by saying something else is worse than the pain itself. And that would be dead wrong! That would be to diminish the role of pain in being the worst thing about pain. Having recently experienced a "9" on the pain scale of 10, I will honor pain by saying that pain is the worst thing about pain.

However, the second worst thing about pain is certainly fear—fear that it will never end. Even though a nurse might say  “45 minutes and it’s done” or “just 10 minutes; hang in there.” 10 minutes is NOT 10 minutes and 45 minutes is NOT 45 minutes; any future time is an eternity away at a pain level of “9”. Time stops. The clock ceases to move in your brain, and you no longer believe in the linearity of time; you believe in “the eternal now” and that eternal now is Hell.

One of the definitions of Hell I remember from my theological education is “eternal separation from God.” I am not at liberty to speak of such a separation from the Deity, as I no longer presume to speculate about God, but I am competent to speak of the horror of being segregated from humanity in a prison of pain. If we are social animals, as we are indeed, the worst place just short of Hell must surely be (even for an introvert like me) separation from the human tribe.

No person, no matter how close, not even a spouse or a mother can ever understand a “9”, even if the spouse or mother has at one time herself experienced a nine. The human brain kindly protects us from having any exact memory of a “9”. So unless your significant other is also in the same pain at the same time, there is no one in the universe who can truly be with you on that painful plane of being. Alone...

Now, pain-free, engaged in the merciful process of forgetting the "9", I am haunted by the feeling that I have seen a ghost—and the ghost is me.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Very well said my friend. I like the statement pertaining to loss of linearity of time.