Lacey Smith

Pain Averse Society

In Uncategorized on June 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Last week on my Facebook page I again started up a controversy on accident. I posted that an epidural sounded miserable and that I didn’t understand why you would choose one.

Now, having not yet given birth, I may understand later. Currently, though, I can’t get over all the risks and the other aspects of receiving an epidural for that choice to make sense to me.

As the posts came in many of them, especially early, were resoundingly in favor of receiving the medication. After I explained myself, a few seemed to understand my concerns but many didn’t even seem to process them.

This dialogue got me thinking about politics. Stick with me here.

All humans experience pain on some level. Be it physical or emotional, no one is totally exempt.

In many cases, pain indicates something is wrong. A sore stomach, a headache, an aching limb are all indications of a body in distress. Sometimes, this pain points to a major issue. That stomachache is a symptom of an ulcer; the headache warns of a tumor. While these are extremes, pain is frequently an indication of a problem. It is a warning sign.

On the other hand, pain sometimes bespeaks of healing instead of injury. Aching limbs after a trip to the gym, sore muscles the day after a deep massage, pain in a mostly healed broken arm are “symptoms” of healing, not disease.

However, no matter the kind of pain, our culture is anxious to avoid it.  Good or bad, we just want it to go away and if we can see it coming we avoid it. Sometimes we even take extreme measures or unnecessary risks to numb the pain. We are a pain averse society.

Right now, America is feeling extreme pain. It’s not pain that tells us something is just a little wrong.

We have a broken leg that, instead of seeing a doctor and getting set properly, we ignored. We treated the pain with aspirin until we’ve given ourselves ulcers.

The bone has grown back together wrong and is infected too. Aspirin isn’t enough and for a while we were getting the pain meds we needed by doctor shopping. Now, though, even “legitimate” prescriptions aren’t enough to stop the pain or satisfy our dependency so we’ve taken to getting drugs wherever we can find them.

At the bare minimum, we need surgery to clean out the infection, to have the bone rebroken and set properly, intensive physical therapy and drug rehab. The recovery process is going to be long and painful. The longer we ignore it, the worse it gets. Much longer and the limb might be beyond saving. We’re lucky to have avoided blood poisoning.

And yet, even knowing the risks, we look at the road ahead and continually decide it’s not worth the pain that will come with healing. Our doctors, afraid we might fire them, won’t do anything for us unless we demand it.

We’re just treating symptoms even though they are getting harder to ignore as the disease gets worse and worse and worse.

Just like many of the posters on my Facebook page, the fear of pain is greater than the fear of what could happen by numbing the pain.

In all areas, our culture tends to be extremely pain averse. There are cultures that not only understand pain, but embrace it. I don’t think we need to go that far, but our fear of pain is keeping us from making wise choices.

In case you think my analogy is about one aspect of America – particularly the economy – that is not my intent.

We are in trouble on so many levels. In fact, I believe that the bad economy is just one symptom of a far too large government doing things it was never designed to do.

Recovery is going to be long at it’s going to be painful in different ways than our current pain. But if we want to survive, we have to quit just treating the symptoms and treat the injuries before it’s too late.

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