Why Bother Paying Attention to Pain?
I fell off my bike once and woke up in an ambulance. It was an embarrassing experience. My friend and I were riding bikes. I wore a baseball cap, but no helmet. Cruising down a hill on the road I felt the wind lifting the cap from my head. As I reached up to secure it, I over compensated with my other hand and turned the handlebars too sharply to the left. My friend had to fill in the blanks for me as to what happened next.
She told me later that she’d never seen anyone fly through the air with such grace and speed. When I finally hit the pavement she tried to rouse me, but could not. That is when she called an ambulance.
I regained consciousness while riding flat on my back inside an ambulance and hearing one of the attendants speaking to someone at the hospital, “Incontinent female about forty years of age.”
That was me. I was mortified. I’d wet myself while soaring through the air. But, he’d been wrong about my age; I was no longer forty, rather a decade older. It was a small comfort to be thought of as a young incontinent woman rather than an old one.
My injuries were not life threatening. Gravel from the road was lodged into one of my palms, a bruised hip and a small bleed in my brain. I stayed overnight in the hospital as a precaution and was released the next day. I’d suffered a concussion and was given strict instruction to be cautious for the next two weeks.
For the first few days following the accident, my body craved rest and ease. I obliged. Instead of my regular routine of running, swimming, bike riding and yoga, I restricted my movement finding comfort on the couch with plenty of pillows. By the second week of rest, my body recovered and I returned to “normal.”
This biking incident reminds me that pain brings restrictions. Restrained movement protects us from any further injury. With this in mind, the discomforts we encounter in life are not limited to just physical. We are also subject to internal wounding; rejection, estrangement, unresolved conflicts, and misunderstandings.
These injuries, as with physical ones, require attention. Ignoring them only worsens the condition and prolongs healing. If we pretend we are okay when we are in fact not, we operate from our brokenness. In so doing we lash out at anyone whose intentions are only good. We defend ourselves from those who offer comfort. We brush aside anyone offering their aide. Our hurts are nothing to hide. Like a bruised hip, gravel under the skin or a concussion, our injuries limit us.
Why bother paying attention to pain? When we admit we’ve been hurt then we can find a way to heal, while ignoring our injuries only leaves us unconscious to how we might get better.