when in pain

The Red Tree, Piet Mondrian, 1908-10

The Red Tree, Piet Mondrian, 1908-10

I experienced acute pain last night when an antibiotic pill got stuck in my throat, causing whats known as pill-induced esophagitis.

I thought it would only last minutes but it ended up lasting for two hours.

I noticed a few things about myself when I’m in pain.

I don’t ask for help and I would rather suffer alone. Even when offered help, I reject it and I want to be alone. I'm not sure how healthy this is. But I think it's because I want to be strong enough to handle it on my own because I won't always have people around me all the time. If I'm dependent on others I fear I won't be able to support myself in difficult moments like this. Perhaps this self-sufficiency is a lie that I'm telling myself, and it's okay to ask for help and receive it.

I just kept letting the pain absolutely paralyze me. I was gasping for air at first. It was really hard to breathe. And I kept regurgitating stomach acid. It was not pleasant. I could barely ingest any water. It felt like I had a ball of glass shards in my throat that was scorching hot, and my body was actively trying to puke out. I could feel the pain in my teeth.

The whole time I kept asking why this was happening. I wasn’t sure why at the time and it was very disorientating. It’s terrifying to have pain show up and you have no idea why it’s happening or what you can do about it.

I felt anger, then cynical. I was filled with bitterness. Things only started to turn out well, I was eating good food again, and now this had to happen. I felt so demotivated. Like I took two steps forward and three steps back.

Then came fear. What if this happens in the US and I don’t have my family around? What if I’m not able to cope? What if? I was catastrophizing yet again.

I was coping with music, soft and harmonious music. I watched a tv show I liked. I was gripping on things and on myself. I thought about the good moments I had with my friends. They helped distract myself from the pain.

I was thinking about what I should be doing the next time I experience acute pain, so I can cope with it better and learn to control it.

Here are some advice I found:

  • focus on pain-free areas: focus on what you can still do
    • if pain is in your feet, use your hands to draw, write, take pictures
  • think positively: think about what you have – people, good food, roof over our heads
  • distract yourself: walk, pray, talk to friends, go to the movies
  • breathe deeply: concentrate on how you breathe
  • visualize the good: go to your happy place, think about things, places, or people that make you happy
  • understand pain: learning about pain can lower pain volume
    • pain, your body's warning system, is not an accurate indicator of tissue damage, it is your brain's best guesstimate about how much danger your body is in and how much pain is required to protect it