Pain – A Personal Perspective

Today, I thought that I would write about pain. Not in a technical, medical or scientific fashion. Rather in personal thoughts, opinions, experiences and observations.

To me, pain manifests itself physically, mentally and emotionally, at times all three simultaneously. A prime example of this would be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Being a member of a military veterans group, I have a number of friends who suffer from varying amounts of PTSD, which they are usually able to deal with it in a number of different ways. They may use some combination of a cautious and guarded lifestyle, or utilize medicines and cannabis products, or have supporting service animals. One thing all have is a cadre of brothers and sisters who make themselves available when needed.

Personally I am fortunate suffering only slightly from PTSD as a consequence of a couple events in my past.

So what prompted me to decide to write about pain today.

Well, partially because I suffer from pain myself, and some of my observations of others in pain, much of which is complicated by our current Covid-19 pandemic.

My personal aspect is that I have severely arthritic hip and am on the list for a total hip replacement. Due to the Covid Delta variant filling hospital ICUs basically all scheduled elective surgeries in Alberta have been cancelled or seriously delayed. My brother recently asked about my hip and I told him I was lucky that my surgery had not been postponed or cancelled, however that was most likely because it wasn’t scheduled yet.

So, because of my hip, I have pretty much daily pain. How much varies with my activities, the weather, and quite possibly, the whim of the pain gods. I am like any number of folks with a similar ailment, and do the same as most must do, which is just put up with it as best I can. I know there are many people awaiting various surgeries whose circumstances are much more difficult than mine.

At times, the physical pain is not the primary issue. The mental/emotional pain is. The frustration of not being able to do any number of routine tasks is.

I was unable to ride my motorcycle as the pain would not allow to mount the machine. So, eventually the remedy was to replace my cruiser with a trike, which I was then able to ride. However, as my hip changes, even riding the trike is difficult. Now it is put away for the winter so who knows what spring’s arrival will hold.

Fortunately I am still able to walk, with a cane, but stairs definitely slow me down. I am still able to drive my car, but getting in and out is definitely not a speedy operation. The bathroom is now fitted with mobility assist devices. Getting dressed meant developing new techniques, particularly putting on socks. There is a specific procedure for sitting down and standing up, and not all chairs are suitable.

I don’t say these things to complain. They are part of the process. They are, however, indications of the frustrations I have experienced. Now add to this, the aspect of the Covid pandemic, which has curtailed physical contact with friends and colleagues, and almost eliminated many of the volunteer activities I was used to doing with both my local Kiwanis club and my veterans group. Even with my hip pain I was able to do some of these things as well as travel with my wife to visit our children and grandchildren in Malaysia. Now all on hold.

I would be lying if these situations didn’t lead to some degree of mental/emotional pain. I like to be involved in things and have found that when I do nothing, then I do nothing, almost like withdrawing. Unfortunately my wife, God love her, is the one who has to deal with me. Honestly, I would be in much worse shape if not for her.

With her kicking my ass, in a manner of speaking, I am making an effort to be more active, hence an increased blog post activity, beginning a podcast and a few other things. As well, I have a friend in Nova Scotia, his name is Rob, who has been stirring up some of my creative juices as well, so we’ll see how things go. There will be more about both these two in future blogs and podcasts.

Most people know that pain is a challenge. A challenge which, with support, although we may not be able to overcome it, we can adjust to deal with it to a large degree.

Thank you for reading. As always, your comments are welcome.

Suicide – Some Thoughts

Just prior to the end of 2014, a lady I know lost her son to suicide.  He was not quite nineteen years old.

Although we had never met in person, we have spoken numerous times via social media and I have also seen her often on television.  As a result I feel that I know her reasonably well, although not as a personal friend.  In this case also it turns out that I work with the police officers who responded to her son’s passing.

Over the years, this is the fourth time that I have been close, in some fashion, to the suicide of a young person.  They have all been males, under the age of twenty-two.

One was the son of a lady that I worked with while in the military.  Another was the son of one of my dearest friends, a lady who has spent her life helping people.  The third was a close friend, like a brother, of a lady that I lived with for a few years.

These four events were, not surprisingly, remarkably similar in many ways.  However, there is one area in which the latest event is distinctively different.

The first three suicides were dealt with quietly so as to draw no undue attention, “kept under wraps” so to speak.

Not so with this latest suicide.  The approach is exactly opposite.  This young lad’s mother and father (they were divorced and had both remarried), have decided that it is long past time to put these occurrences front and centre, to have them recognized as a mental health issue and treated as such.

To this end, she has been appearing on radio talk shows, television news, and has had articles about her, and her son, in quite a number of newspapers.  She has a very strong social media following and is using that to spread the word as well.  It is not an easy road she has chosen to follow, however she strongly feels it to be necessary and the right thing to do.  I also believe that what she is doing is her way of helping to cope with the aspects of losing her son.

Suicide is a disease, it inflicts a terrible toll on the family and friends of those who die.  According to a fact sheet posted in October 2011 by CTV News, suicide accounts for 24% of deaths among 15-24 year old Canadians and is the second leading cause of death for those between 10 and 24.

I consider this woman to be brave, for confronting the pain of her loss head on, and courageous, as she strives to create greater recognition of suicide as a serious form of mental illness.  I know how outspoken and stubborn she can be, and I both admire and applaud what she is doing.  It is my hope that she will succeed in not only creating a much greater awareness, but achieving some progress in dealing with this disease.  This blog post is part of my way to support her and to help this process along.

Over 3500 Canadians will die as a result of suicide this year.  Don’t you think that it’s about time that we all did something about it!