Monday, February 23, 2009

On Being a Pain

Let me apologize ahead of time but I am going to whine for a few minutes. It is not my normal character to whine but I have a point at the end so please put up with it for a paragraph or two.

I cannot walk without pain. In fact, I don’t remember a time since I got out of a cast after my first knee surgery in High School where I have walked without pain. So for over 30 years and six knee surgeries I have dealt with knee pain. The problem is, when your body is out of balance with knee issues I walk funny and after 30 years of walking funny it has affected my back and for the last 15 years I have had back problems. Almost two years ago now I broke the foot on my “good” leg and had to have surgery to put things back together again. So now I have pain on the “good” leg. Instead of just hurting every other step I now hurt with each step I take. I won’t even bother you with all the fingers I have broken and jammed to make each grip painful and rings almost impossible. Nor will I tell you about all the teeth I have missing from growing up with a masochistic dentist and all the oral surgeries. I just won’t tell you about those things. I fall asleep thinking about how to minimize pain, I get out of bed because of pain, each step I take during the day is filled with pain, and I have to sit in certain chairs to minimize back pain.

I am constantly told to try this doctor, or to try this medicine, or this exercise and am given countless home remedies to help with pain. It’s not incapacitating, it is just there; constantly there.

I’m used to pain. I’ve seen enough war movies now that “pain lets you know you are alive” has become a cliché. I have come to accept pain and, in fact: come to use pain for good. The easiest example of this is my proclivity to getting up at 5:00 am to start my day. I would not have the self-discipline to get up that early if my back would not be screaming at me to get up. Pain keeps me humble. I used to run, jump and play with unusual talent and it all went to my head; now I watch from the sidelines constantly fighting the urge to get in the game, invited into the game, yet realizing I cannot. My wife had to threaten me with not taking me to the hospital for my last knee surgery because I could not admit I couldn’t do it anymore, I couldn’t admit that I couldn’t.
We have to look at pain as motivation and not as an excuse. Too many of us claim pain to exclude ourselves from having to work or being fruitful. We become users instead of producers, takers instead of givers, and whiners instead of winners. Take a long hard look at your life and ask yourself “am I using pain as an excuse or motivation?” You get hurt – okay – take a minute to look yourself over, brush yourself off and then GET UP! I know, I know, now I’m just being a pain.

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