Life As It Comes


Pain is a constant companion. On November 24th, 1972, I was involved in a car accident. I was 16 years old, a Junior in high school and I fractured a few of my lower lumbar vertebra. The swelling was so bad that my spinal chord was squeezed to the point of my not being able to move or feel from the waist down. After about 3 weeks I slowly got the feeling back but standing and walking was extremely painful. I had to wear a brace with big steel bars up the back for support. I spent a month in the hospital and another month at home before I could return to school. I have suffered with back pain and sciatica ever since. Regaining the movement that I had until then taken for granted took many more months. I have learned to live with the pain.

Now in my 60’s, I find that I’m getting arthritis. My grandmother on my dad’s side had it so bad that she could barely move on her own. I often wondered if I could inherit that. I’ve had it in my lower back for some time but within the last few years it has developed in my hips and hands. I play hand percussion and fool around with bass guitar but as time goes on those things are becoming more painful. As I am well familiar with pain it is not a surprise or necessarily a burden. Because of my back I have always had to be innovative in how I do things. So the new pain just presents more challenges for how to get things done with the least amount of suffering. I don’t like taking medication so I find other ways of working around it. Some days are just too much however, So I take pain reliever like Ibuprofen.

The joints in the fingers on my left hand make a crunching noise when I make a fist. Some days they hurt so bad I can’t make that fist. I know I’ll have to go to the Doctor soon and probably will take meds to alleviate some of that. I’m not so much worried about the pain as I am worried about the loss of movement. I really like my hands. And I like using them. Who doesn’t, right? And the pain in my hips may not be arthritis but a deteriorating joint. Yay, that sounds better! It is said that age and experience brings wisdom which is great but they leave out the part about your body falling apart. And of course, with the wonderful state of our health care system and insurance, it’ll cost more money than some countries GDP. Can’t wait for that.

Physical pain is a natural part of life. So of course, is emotional pain. All of us have to deal with pain of one kind or another. How we deal with it is important to our overall physical and emotional well being. I think of pain, physical and emotional as a natural part of existence. I don’t think of it as something to be avoided, but something to be dealt with. I, like most people, want less pain so I do things or don’t do things accordingly. Or I change how I do things. Sometimes the change is drastic, like not playing bass anymore. I only started playing bass about a year and a half ago but pushing down on the strings is really getting painful and to continue doing it will only make things worse. I like playing bass, but it’s not something I’m going to be able to continue with. Sometimes changes are not as drastic as that. Like changing how I pick things up. Using my middle finger as opposed to my pointer. I don’t mind change. It keeps the mind sharp.

All this I guess is to say that change happens. Looking at something not necessarily as bad, but different, can contribute to a more stable emotional well being. Pain is not bad, it’s just different than not having pain. Good and bad are just concepts that you agree with. If you can view something as different instead of bad, it helps you think about it in a more constructive way. Now I know that the pain I’ve suffered has not been debilitating. That’s not what I’m talking about. If I ever reach that point I believe I’ll figure out how to deal with that as well. Dealing with pain for me is like dealing with anything else. Whatever comes my way, I look at it, study it and figure out what to do or not do about it. If I can get the pain to go away, that’s great. If not, I’ll figure out how to live with it. What else can you do?

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Pain

power to the people
I’m sitting here at my computer today with my foot resting on a bottle of frozen water. I have Plantars Fasciitis in my right foot. I’ve been hobbling along for several weeks now, the pain coming and going, but yesterday was really tough. And this morning it was so sore and swollen that I couldn’t go to work. I hate to let down my boss and co-workers so I don’t miss much work but today, well it had to be. I need to stay off it and get the swelling down. Maybe I’ll mow my lawn this afternoon. A couple hours on the riding lawn mower won’t hurt my foot. But it’s supposed to be 90 degrees today so we’ll see. 80’s and 90’s are too hot for May. We should be having 60’s and 70’s for highs in May in Minnesota. Oh well.

Thinking about my foot and how the pain shoots up my leg while the rest of me feels pretty good is reminding me of how things are going in the U.S. today. Our country is in flux, no doubt about it. Having Fasciitis causes me to walk different. I’m favoring my right foot, trying not to put too much pressure on it. This in turn is causing me to use muscles differently than I normally do. So now I have leg and hip pain. I suppose you’re wondering how this relates to the country? Well, there are a lot of things going on that are causing people to think and act differently than they have, and it’s causing some pain.

The coming presidential election is defiantly causing pain throughout the country. People are arguing about the candidates, about who’s best and worst. About the political parties, how they have changed, and what they will accomplish. Should we get rid of them, should we have a three party system, Should we even have democracy, or do we still have democracy? We have so many things on our plates these days. Politicians, the NRA, Monsanto, GMO’s, the Koch brothers, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Syria, ISIS, LGBT people, Transgender people, pipelines, Native rights, Black Lives Matter, etc., etc. The list goes on and on. All of this is causing us pain in many forms and causing us to act in different ways than we normally do. We are dividing ourselves with all these issues.

Our constitution allows us many freedoms. But with over three hundred million people you are bound to have differing opinions about what those freedoms mean. It’s always been that way, right from the start. And it causes pain. Maybe past generations thought that things were getting to be too much. In the Sixties, when we were fighting for civil rights did people wonder how things could get much worse? I’m sure some thought it couldn’t. When white people first came here did the Native people wonder how things could get worse? Each generation has had its pain and some fought hard for change while others sat on the sidelines. Change is the thing that causes the most pain. People are reluctant to change.

So here we are in 2016. Change is called for from many different factions. Tolerance and acceptance vs intolerance and rejection. The battle lines are being drawn in the news headlines every day. Gun control, Transgender rights, the environment, climate change, refugees and more. We’re all taking sides on these arguments; even if you’re sitting on the sidelines, you’re still taking a side. The pain is growing and forcing us to act differently than we would like to. And it’s causing other pains. Where do we find our answers? People used to find comfort in their religious beliefs but statistics show that church membership is losing ground and more people are leaving religion behind than ever before. So now where do we look to find answers? Our government? Well I think most people know the answer to that question.

I’m getting control of the pain in my foot by staying off of it and using ice to reduce the inflammation, which makes my leg and hip feel better. So how do we reduce the inflammation in our country? How do we feel better? By accepting change? By informing ourselves about the issues and deciding which ones are really important and which ones we should not be so worried about? Understanding that we are all given the same freedoms from the constitution even though some have had to fight for these rights a lot harder than others because some people are so reluctant to change and so reluctant to give up control helps us to know what we’re fighting for. So what are we fighting for? Hopefully we are fighting for a better, more just America. Hopefully we are fighting for acceptance and freedom. Hopefully, we are fighting for our lives.