What to do with severe pain

We all get it at least once, except for those rare individuals who are born without the capacity to feel pain. Those people tend to die young because they don’t get important messages from their bodies. There are folks who get pain once in a great while, maybe they get an infection or burn themselves on a hot stove. There are folks that experience flares of pain from various health conditions, be it an old injury or a chronic disease. And there are also folks who live with pain almost every day. Pain becomes blended in with their every day experiences of life.

I’ve experienced all three categories and fortunately I only experience pain once in a while these days. When I feel pain, I have different strategies for dealing with it and I choose my strategy based on the level of pain.

If the pain is severe–a level of 7, 8, 9, or 10 out of 10–I mostly choose the following core strategies:
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Unbreakable

It can’t break you apart
You are too whole
Pain sears your insides and
you collapse into aloneness
Wondering why it keeps hitting you
Wondering why it is so hard
Just to get up
Just to get up
The pain steals your will
And yet you keep rising
To the challenge
The pain steals your choices
And yet you keep choosing
To live wholly
The pain consumes you
In moments of despair
And you break free
Again and again
Reaching up
Reaching out
To those who love you
You are the unbreakable ones
The heroines who catch yourselves
Even when the pain pulls you
Tears you
Strikes the core of who you are
You are unbreakable
You find love
You find compassion
You find your voice,
your strong, determined voice.
The pain will never break you
You are too whole

–I wrote this poem for the women in my dissertation study. They all suffered from chronic pelvic pain. I felt so inspired by their grace and perseverance.

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