I’m glad I’m practiced in misery

The day after I last wrote, my pain level went through the roof and has stayed there, prompting me to take a phenomenal number of sleeping pills and narcotics. The worse case scenario would be that I tore the tendon that had to be temporarily detached during surgery in order to reach the joint. This fear of re-tearing tendons is a major stressor that goes on for months following shoulder surgery. I’ll give the pain two more days before I call the doctor.

Fortunately, pain doesn’t get me down as bad as it once did. I well remember the days when I would sit in my recliner (I had to sleep in a recliner in order to sleep at all) in the wee hours and worry that if the pain got any worse, I would become hysterical. As you might imagine, that fear was harder to survive than the pain itself. Now, that I have a long record of survival, I can reassure myself that it’s unlikely that anything like that will happen.

Another interesting aspect (interesting to me, anyway) of all that I’ve been through is that it has probably left me less depressed than I’ve been in years. I certainly experience anger, fear, and sadness, but not ongoing depression. During the London Blitz, psychologists found that the depression rate of Londoners actually went down as their city collapsed around them. Obviously, that was a very different situation than my own, yet one commonality might be that pain and fear trump depression. After all, depression requires reflection, and reflection requires that one’s basic needs be realized.

Even among WWII concentration camp survivors, there appeared to be little clinical depression, presumably because the people were too busy surviving fear, sickness, overwork, exposure, and starvation, to ponder their deeper feelings. So it was that the suicide rate appeared to go up after liberation when the former inmates had sufficient comfort and leisure to consider the meaning of what they had suffered, and to mourn for what they had lost in terms of family, friends, wealth, and opportunity.

10 comments:

All Consuming said...

"Another interesting aspect (interesting to me, anyway) of all that I’ve been through is that it has probably left me less depressed than I’ve been in years. I certainly experience anger, fear, and sadness, but not ongoing depression" - me too, that's why I'm so cheery. Not all the time of course, but without doubt tis the longevity of the pain and health problems that led me out the black tunnel of despair eventually. What strange creatures we are. x

Mim said...

hmm...terrible pain and suffering or clinical depression. what's the answer here? Humans need to work hard to survive and without challenges we get depressed? Ask me about my mammoth theory one day....
hope you call the dr soon snow -

Candy Morrison said...

I hope you get some relief soon!

The Elephant's Child said...

Oh Snow, I am so so sorry that the pain is back. Hopefully temporarily. Though I do know exactly where you are coming from on the depression front: pissed off yes, afraid yes, depressed? only v briefly.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Damn that doesn't sound good. Were it me I would not wait two days.. I'd be knocking on the front door of the doctor's home.

Snowbrush said...

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone.

Mim said: "Humans need to work hard to survive and without challenges we get depressed?"

I think it's a case of Maslowe's Pyramid according to which one's higher needs can only be realized when one's lower needs are met. If I remember correctly fulfillment is at or near the top of the pyramid, and what is depression but the absence of fulfillment? This would imply that depression is, to a extent, a malady of those who have achieved at least a moderate degree of comfort, safety, security, and so forth.

Robert said: " Were it me I would not wait two days.. I'd be knocking on the front door of the doctor's home."

It's tempting, of course. However:

1) He doesn't have anything more effective for pain relief than ice, Neurontin, oxycodone, Dilaudid, and sleeping pills, all of which I have.

2) It's conceivable that I overdid some new exercises that he gave me, in which case the pain might quiet down without intervention.

3) He would have to order a $1,400 MRI to know if the tendon is torn (an office exam and x-rays wouldn't be adequate).

4) I have a natural reluctance to go to a doctor straight away for a non-emergency problem because I want the doctor to know that, when I do come in, it's for a good reason. Should this be a consideration? Maybe not, but I believe it makes it more likely that I'll be taken seriously and receive stronger pain-relief when I ask for pain relief.

River said...

$1,400 for MRI? my torn tendon was seen by X-Ray and confirmed with ultrasound. It was only partially torn, but certainly painful enough. i'd torn it a few months earlier but hadn't realised and kept working until the pain got so bad my supervisor told me to go to the doctor immediately. Don't go home, go to the doctor. It is still torn, but with rest and physio I've regained a lot of movement and there is no pain. not in the shoulder anyway, other areas are still problematic and will be forever.
I hope your shoulder settles soon, do you have some analgesic gel or cream you can rub into it as well as taking pain relief? (Ha Ha, pain relief; give me pain knockout).

Natalie said...

Survival requires adrenaline and when it leaves the body..pffft like a deflated balloon we go.
Love to your poor shoulder. ♥

Zuzana said...

Very interesting take on pain and depression and I certainly agree. Depression is a result of unfulfilled dreams and desires, a condition that arises from a prolong state of apathy, or so I feel.
Love your post above too, what a very refreshing take on the great nation...
Thank you so much for stopping by recently and for your very substantial comment.;)
Hope your own pain has eased a bit.;)
xoxo

nollyposh said...

i can't lie down either due to pain and the days just keep getting longer... i take pain meds just to get the kids off to school and then am exhausted until the dinner rush... sighhh... i am learning the lessons that fear teaches... i will rise above this, but it quite the battle field x