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Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Virtues of Pain

It’s now more than a week since persistent back pain caused by an injury has forced me to consume pain medication which adds up to the daily dose f steroids I need in order to keep my general condition under control. These days were also more difficult following a number of disappointments I had in my life. Indeed, only now can I seem to have renewed hope in a better tomorrow. A tomorrow when I can return back to work and join my work mates once again.

Even if I wish to escape the pain, I must admit that, whatever we do,. certain type of pain is inevitable and may be even necessary.



Here I am not saying that I just accept the pain that's purely physical without making use of medication to relief the immediate pain. Indeed, one should make proper use of technological innovation to address the symptoms of pain. But, then again, we should accept the fact that not all pain is valueless and that pain itself can help us connect to others and to our basic humanity.



Such an approach to pain appears to be a contradiction to the pleasure seeking or hedonistic ideal that equates pain and suffering with evil while pleasure and physical comfort are the higher goods of our current age.


While it’s a natural response to reject pain, not all pain can be removed. I have experienced moments of pain where I even questioned if there was any point in going on. These moments often led me to consider even suicide. But these thoughts eventually would last for days or even months until I would realize that, instead of brooding on my bad fortune, I could learn from this experience. It’s not easy as it might appear when expressed in words and I don’t judge those who failed and and are no longer with us.



However, I can’t help worry about the implication of a hedonism that aims to reject pain because it often leads to the elimination of those people whose lives, due to their pain, are deemed unworthy of living as their lives are perceived as insignificant burdens and ‘lies not worth living’. A life such as my own. In addition, a pleasure seeking attitude to life may result in a decrease in palliative care treatment and lack of funding in pain management research. It would mean removing the person instead of alleviating the pain.



There were many things I reflected upon during these times of pain. Things that I had forgotten as I went about with life until I was forced to stop. I realized how, in spite of any disagreements, my family was there to support me.

I realized that my friends hadn’t abandoned me in this moment of need. I realiszed that if it wasn’t for the work of many others unknown to me, I would’t have anything to brink or eat, no electricity, no means of reaching out to the world. If it hadn’t been for those who encouraged me to ask the right questions, my life today would have been different. Finally, if it hadn’t been for doctors and scientists that have developed treatment and medication to deal with conditions like my own, I would not be here today.

In this sense, pain reminds us of our own vulnerability as human beings and awakens us to the fact that we need each other in life and that we are part of one single human family.

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