Monday, 11 May 2015

No Pain, No Gain?

I limped home.
I'm no stranger to injury. During my stint in the trades, injury was part of the game. Further, I'm forever trying things I probably shouldn't. It's the male psyche pretending I'm not aging and some primordial, reptilian brain centre screaming “I'M STILL EIGHTEEN! I CAN DO ANYTHING!” Then I look in a mirror and silently wonder where that new line on my face came from. Is that a laugh line or a frown line? Hmm... Laugh line. Definitely a laugh line.
After a tumble I took on ice this past February, I've had a few musculature issues cropping up occasionally. By occasionally, I mean every morning, half way through the day and every evening. Since the job I do is a physical one, my choices are; crawl back into bed and suffer, piss and whine about it to whomever is within earshot, or be a Nike commercial and Just Do It. I generally choose the latter.
Medication helps.
The problem with medication is it hides the fact there is underlying pain and a root cause. Pain, though often misconstrued otherwise, is your friend. It tells you not to put your hand on a hot stove. It tells you it might not be the smartest idea to jump off a three story building. It tells you to look both ways before crossing the street. It tells you pretending to be Evil Knievel is a tremendously erroneous thought process. (He bailed at Snake River... remember? Not so evil after all.) The memory of pain is a reminder to “not do that shit again”. Of course, being a guy, I sometimes do that shit again thinking I have it figured out this time. It seldom goes well.
Not my point.
By masking the pain, in this case my back, there is a relatively good chance I will re-injure myself or, as fate would have it, continue to suffer the consequences of not paying attention in the first place. Rather than dealing with the underlying issue which is causing the pain, I medicate. The medication takes the edge off and I can carry on.
If I'm hiding the underlying injury by medicating and not having it treated, then the issue becomes chronic and never really goes away. In addition, if this becomes a ritual, then medicating becomes the new norm in my life and I become dependent on it. Without the medication, I believe I cannot function. Even farther along that line of thinking, even when the pain is gone, I begin to medicate for any reason simply to make myself feel better. (For example, relieve every little ache that comes along.) By not dealing with the issue, I live my life with an undercurrent of physical issues which tend to grow as I compensate.
For short term pain, medication is likely the answer. For long term pain, the underlying issue must be addressed.
It's like that emotionally. For the men of our society in particular, we are told stuff our emotions. Stuffed emotional injuries seldom stay where they are hidden away. They rear their ugly heads in places and situations we would never have thought possible. In order to deal with these issues, we are told to medicate. Worse, those of us who don't see a professional to deal with the underlying issues find our own ways to self medicate. We hide our pain behind socially acceptable or non-socially acceptable mind numbing “treatments”.
And when stuff starts to bubble to the surface, we'll make any excuse to find a way to “get through.” Often those issues were so long ago we don't even have a name to put to them any longer. It's just stuff.
After a while, the medication loses it's effectiveness and we need more... and more... and more.
Issues have to be dealt with or we have to be content to suffer endlessly. Those are the alternatives. Either face the fear of dealing with it and work on repairing or suffer without knowing why we are suffering and why we react the way we do.
Why do I wince when I turn this way?
The only difference between physical pain and emotional pain is you can see one of them. They both hurt. They both leave scars. Neither heals without attention. Hiding away from the pain under a mask of medication doesn't help the underlying issue. Hiding under a mask only makes it worse in the long run.
Before I close, I understand there are chronic injuries which will never be resolved. There are some in my circle who I know haven't a choice. And, they have sought professional expertise before coming to that conclusion. 
I'm beginning to get a hint of what that is all about.
Anyway, I limped home.