It has been a long dry trek through the desert of pain since I last wrote. But, in the moment, I find myself in a little oasis and so I write. Yet even in this oasis comfort eludes me as I sit here, miserable, waiting for Novocaine to wear off from a root canal.
No ordinary tooth, this. The same procedure was done a week ago, but within two days pain returned, angry pain. The only way I could get to sleep was to take two Vicodin before bed, but they provided less than “normal” sleep.
There are but two bedtime positions that will allow me a respite from pain. One is on my back, which is less than ideal because I have sleep apnea in that position and often wake myself up with a loud snort. The other is on my left side. Ah, I cherish that side. But the tooth would start to throb within seconds if I dared roll to the left. It appeared that Vicodin didn’t cover The Left. The only way to get the tooth pain to settle was to flip to my back again. Snort!
The post-root-canal experience is one I know well, having enjoyed at least a half-dozen root canals, so I knew that something wasn’t right. After the second Vicodin night I called the endodontist. He assured me that, since I only needed Motrin during the day, the tooth was indeed healing. Really!!! When I called two days later, the secretary squeezed me into the schedule. (Surely she must have Angel wings tucked under that blazer.) So here I am newly and thoroughly “canaled.”
I relate this experience because it prompted me to ask a question that I’ve never asked before. The week of dental hell was only the most recent of countless incidents of severe, scary, prolonged periods of pain occurring over the past 25 years. Yet, for the first time I wondered “why me?” … but not in the usual way.
I am not thinking “poor me.” Rather I’m wanting to know what purpose this experience serves.
Is it to force me to appreciate how great it feels when my teeth don’t hurt? No, I’ve had far too many painful dental procedures not to be grateful when my teeth are happy.
Is it so I can empathize with the pain of others? I don’t think so! After 25 years of chronic pain, in addition to instances where doctors had no answers for apparently inexplicable symptoms, fear that said painful symptoms would never stop, anxiety that yet another part of my body will become the next sight of searing pain … no, no. Empathy I have in abundance.
Is it to teach yet another health care provider that his/her patients are not pressed out by a single cookie cutter? Is it to enlighten a doctor that he should listen, really listen, to his female patients because, sorry guys, he sees me as just another hysterical woman? Read … either I must be exaggerating the pain or I am not smart enough to know when something is seriously wrong.
I’ve played such roles far too many times. If I told the Creator before I was born that I chose as my job on earth to endure decades of pain in order to make life easier for those who follow me, I quit! I gave my two weeks notice twenty years ago so don’t bother with the retirement party. I’m outta here.
And then I wonder if I’m suffering because I am not worthy, because I do not measure up, because I was too timid to take advantage of an opportunity to serve, etc.,. But when I read those words, my gut tells me that I am worthy no matter what I am or am not doing. So I wonder still, why me, what purpose does this life of suffering serve?
What do you think? I will be meditating and searching for answers until next time when we can explore your suggestions and whatever has revealed itself to me.
Something to ponder until then:
“To the world you are one person but to one person you are the world.”
— author unknown