Pain, no one likes it, we all try to avoid it. It’s only natural. We’re all humans. But is pain that bad? Does pain hurt us so much that it deserves no place in our lives? When we feel the pain, what is it trying to tell us? Is there anything else other than the discomfort that it inflicts on us?
Last week I finally surrendered to my thumping headache. After 2 days of enduring pain, I decided enough is enough. So, I dragged myself to the local supermarket and buy a mini pack of Panadol (paracetamol). It was the first time in many years (possibly more than 15 years) that I went to buy an over the counter (OTC) medicine to treat a pain related symptom. Judging by my poor track record, I don’t think any pharmaceutical companies would like me as a consumer. Why wouldn’t they? I’m just not one of those guys who would reach for a painkiller as soon as I experience some physical pain. It may sound strange or weird but I’d like to test out my tolerance level for pain and give my body a chance to fight and respond before I resort to the medicine option. Of course, provided the pain is not serious, urgent or life-threatening. Luckily, I haven’t been in a situation where I needed to seek an immediate medical attention. Just for the record, I’m not against medicine but I’m a firm believer that my body needs time to settle the pain, understand why it’s hurting, then go into a right channel of healing.
In my recent case, taking medication was certainly a wise decision to make. I started to function like my normal self very quickly. Going through a work day not affected by my headache was a bless. Thanks to the magical power of paracetamol. However, deep down I knew it’d only be temporary. 6 to 8 hours passed, the effect began to wane, the pain came back in no time. It was as clear as it started. A pain medicine is never intended for long term use anyway. If we read the label carefully, it says: provide fast, effective temporary relief of pain. So, after having popped a total of 6 pills into my system in a matter of 2 days, I thought it was time to confront my pain head on, literally. It wasn’t hard to see why my headache was only a symptom. The real cause lied in my weakening immune system due to a lack of sleep. All it took was one wild chilly wind blow, then bingo! I caught a nasty cold.
To treat the cause rather than the symptom, I consciously made time throughout the day to allow myself to rest and slow things down a bit. It was amazing how fast my body recovered from it. I woke up feeling rejuvenated. The headache was gone by itself without drugs. Right there and then, I knew I’d treated my body right.
None of us is a machine. We do need to recharge our batteries every once a while. Walking away from the rat race for a few hours or even for a day for a health-benefit reason won’t set us back both in the short and long runs. If it does, we’ll have to question if it’s all worth it. When we put a highest priority on health, we’re in front in a game. Other less important things can wait. When our bodies start to send a signal to our brains that something is up in the form of pain, it’s a red flag. My experience has taught me that an effective coping mechanism for pain is fundamentally about giving what the body needs, not wants – it may be painstaking but is worth taking…