imagesofhandlight– PAIN – GAIN – 

“Tell us of Pain.” And he said, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses understanding. – Kahlil Gibran 

No one enjoys the experience of pain. It can strike us in the heart, mind, soul and body. It tiring and draining on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. Not only our own pain, but when we witness others experiencing pain on any level.

Those of you who have read my last several blogs on my accident and injuries over 2 months ago and who know of the subsequent difficulties with my damaged hand and fingers, will also know that I wrote psychologically about it. Which is what I plan to do again in this blog post.

I am not going to write a treatise on pain but will simply share with you my own experience of physical pain and how I am now looking at it in a different light.

After the pins were removed under anesthetic just over 2 weeks ago, my hand and fingers were pretty numb for 24 hours and all was well – or so I thought. As soon as the overall numbness wore off, the pain was intense. Subsequent visits to the hand therapists were re-assuring in that this was to be expected; I was urged to continue to use my right hand as much as possible to get used to using this foreign appendage in spite of wearing a stretchy bandage (coban) on my individual fingers to keep the swelling down.

All seemed to proceed apace. And then several days later (last week) the numbness on the pads of my fingers started wearing off. The pads on my fingers had been numb for over 2 months. It was good to get feeling back into those pads. O good, I thought. I had been protecting those fingers as if my life depended on it, knowing that I had no feeling in those pads.

But then an extraordinary thing happened. Pain came in a different guise, in full force, to those pads. This was almost too much for me. I took a multi strength pain killer, which helped on the physical level.

How do I relate to this psychologically?

We know that there are times in our lives when we are numbed. A broken heart brings us to our knees in agony; death floors us; depression wipes us out, losing a job, losing a limb – the list is endless in the ways in which life throws its arrows. When we are numbed, we are ‘protected’ from feeling and we can unconsciously live in this cocoon of numbness for a long, long time. We may take pills, take to drink, mind altering drugs, to keep us shielded from our pain.

But then, in time, feeling comes back – along with its partner, pain. This was my experience when the feeling in my finger pads returned; it was very painful. The nerves were re-generating. And if I extrapolate this to the wider world and not just my fingers, I see that this is true too. When we are no longer numb from pain, and give up the medications in whatever form (drugs, drink etc) we have been taking to keep the pain at bay and engage with feeling in life again after e.g. great sadness, painful feelings will have to faced. Numbness is no longer there to protect or shield us. Those feelings on many levels are a reminder that we are alive, that our ‘nerve’ is returning.

So, this is my offering for today. I am just back from the hand therapist. Last night the nail on my middle finger came off and I can see the new nail emerging. The forefinger looks gross with its black and yellow nail; this too will come off in time.

It is an ongoing process. I am pleased that my physical pain has value. The nerves are starting to work again. I am taking the bitter potion that is pain and seeing it as necessary in my healing.

38 Comments on Pain – Gain

  1. Damyanti recommended this post at her Daily (w)rite blog and I’m glad she did. Wise words. I’m glad to have found them. I have experienced the numbness from psychological and physical pain, and then the soul-searing pain once the numbness is gone. I learned that there’s ALWAYS a way through it, and that going through it is part of healing. I have chronic illnesses that cause incredibly physical pain at time, and I’ve had surgery several times. I’ve learned that there are also two kinds of physical pain: the kind that warns that something’s wrong, and the kind that reveals the body hard at work to rebuild and heal. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much ccyager. How beautifully you put that with regard to pain :’..the kind that warns that something’s wrong, and the kind that reveals the body hard at work to rebuild and heal’. A lovely reminder of the 2 essential kinds.
      Thank you for coming by – I checked your post which was wonderful and left a comment. I so hope to see you again.

  2. Your situation has to be very frustrating, which is another sort of pain in a sense. You are learning and gaining something from the experience so that is a good thing. Finding the good in the bad makes life so much more bearable.

    Wrote By Rote

    • Thanks Arlee, you’ve hit the nail on the head. In amongst all the fragility of everything, there is nevertheless resilience. A paradox I suppose, one I am learning. A valuable learning curve!
      Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate this.

  3. Hi Susan, I just read about your accident and was devastated at first but am glad you are feeling better now. I, too, am praying for you to have a smooth recovery. Stay strong as always. Sending hugs and smiles from Malaysia 🙂

    • Thank you so much Melissa! All going fine – long way to go yet. Thank you so much for your good wishes. Am sending you hugs and smiles all the way from South Africa!

  4. So glad to hear you’re healing, Susan. I’ve missed your thoughtful posts. We’re exposed to so much in life, trials and times of pain. And here you are, overcoming.

    • Thank you so much Sylvia! My hand was splinted at the hand therapists this morning on the advice of the orthopedic surgeon who I had just seen! But I can type so this is good. Very good! I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things –

  5. I think Khalil Gabran’s quote is just right, Susan, as are your positive thoughts. I agree it’s the best way to deal with this. I am so very sorry for your pain, but was glad to see that you are following the experience in your beautiful, writer’s heart. I hope it’s giving some comfort to you and the thought of how your hand will be once healed. I’m so glad to see you back on the blog after the surgery and would love to hear the plan for your next project when you are able to write the next words. Take care of yourself, my friend, and get well soon.

    • Thank you so much Sharon. I appreciate this so much. I keep in mind all the time that my fingers and hand will be healed. Another 4 months of hand therapy – hopefully on 1st Jan 2014 I can put it all behind me, though the experience will never leave me.

      Thank you for your wonderful wishes.

  6. I love Patricia’s message and she inspires your writing a book about your journey through this pain and healing, don’t you think? No doubt you are way ahead of me on this. I know many others will benefit from knowing your story and your taking the positive path through the wilderness of your healing process.

    • Isn’t Patricia’s response so wonderful? 🙂 🙂 I am hardly ahead of you in writing a book Samantha – YOU are way ahead!

  7. Susan, your thoughts, knowledge and intuition are so incisive (if I may use that word in light of your healing hand). You always manage to crack open my shell and awaken me to new perspectives on this life. I like, too, what Susan Schwartz says, “The hand is better but hurting. Better but hurting.” Great wisdom here.

    My thoughts have been with you in your healing, and I hope that your finger pads are less painful now. I can’t believe it has been two months. As Mike says, “Hectic stuff.”

    Lots of love.

    Thank you for enlightening us with your wisdom gained through this painful and healing experience.

    • Thank you so much Samantha. You too know of pain on your own journey and know of healing even though it takes time. And even though we cannot discern the why’s and wherefore’s AT the time, somehow, something emerges … which I like to think makes our psyches a little bit stronger and more open to the mysteries of life.

      Yes, Susan’s words are wise indeed!

      Love to you dear friend – you’ve added an increase to my life in the best way possible.

  8. Dear Susan;
    How amazing that the return to pain hurts but the loss was numbing. What a paradox pain presents to us and it makes us value it and our life. And, what a process as the hand is better but hurting. Better but hurting.
    Sending healing to you,

    • Thank you so much Susan. And for pointing out the paradox that this is. While there may appear to be backward steps at times, in the background much else is happening not immediately apparent. How complex life is yet so simple! Yet another paradox I suppose …

  9. Yoh. Hectic stuff ma. So glad the healing process seems to be going well. I enjoyed the part about numbness for a while and then feeling returning. Very cool. I wish you well with the coming days / return of feeling to the hand / pads.

    • Thank you dear Mike! I often think of you and Davey being here and your enormous help that lightened the load. I am so blessed and will always be grateful. Thank you for your ongoing care and concern.
      Patricia’s response is so wonderful – do read it.

  10. Yikes. I hope the pain heals soon. It’s a very powerful lesson, true, but it’ll be nicer when the lesson is in the past. That’s my wish for you.

  11. Simply beautiful! ” I am taking the bitter potion that is pain and seeing it as necessary in my healing.” Because it is necessary. Growth without learning how to deal with the pain that accompanies it, is not growth. Pain transpires into a vapor that broadens our understanding.

    This series that you have been writing since your accident details a growth passage in your own life. A maturity, an insight into something that you did not see before, and it has made you a more compassionate and empathetic person.
    You experienced a numbness for a while and as you have said, the numbness is good for a while. It too is actually necessary because it prepares us for what we have to face.

    When I had my surgery in April, I knew from a previous journey of enlightenment dealing with the loss of loved ones, that I would probably have intense pain. I remember the doctor telling me that everything around that area of my body would be numb for months, and I should try and take as few pain pills as possible. It was then up to me.

    Like you, my dear Susan, I made the step to walk with the pain until the healing process has completed itself. As I began to walk out my decision by actually doing it, I learned to adjust the intensity of the pain by taking small breaks. Those small breaks caused the pain to ease and decrease tremendously. Interesting enough, I found out that listening to my body plays a big part in the healing process.

    Again, I quote you from your wonderful article, “It is an ongoing process. I am pleased that my physical pain has value. The nerves are starting to work again.”

    Isn’t it wonderful to feel those nerves coming alive again? There are so many people who wish they could feel the nerves in their bodily limbs coming back to life, but they never will because of paralysis or some other terminal disease.

    You are blessed to feel the pain. And when the pain is past and gone, your heart will be even warmer than before, because you have passed through a passage that has enriched your life journey.

    Love you Susan, and your article touched my heart deeply.


    • Patricia, thank you for your beautiful and heart warming response – I read it late last night and felt my blood corpuscles expanding. And again this morning on a few re-readings my blood corpuscles are again expanding. YOUR response has touched my heart deeply, thank you.

      I excerpted this below:- I wish I could acknowledge the source.

      ‘Arthur Attwell said, “There never yet was a drought that did not end in rain.” I can honestly tell you from personal experience that the more severe the drought, the more blessing the rain is and the more it is appreciated when it comes’.

      This speaks to what we are talking about.

      I remember you writing a few months back about taking smaller steps, more breaks and resting more and how this helped your healing. I took those words to heart and am doing likewise. I find that I am appreciating simpler things. A walk around the block seeing the plants and flowers, trees, greeting people – looking out to my garden and seeing spring buds flowering, birds building their nests – gives me a greater yet quieter appreciation of all that is.

      And yes, it is so true that there are so many who are bedridden and unable to feel their limbs. This is a graphic image and brings its own dart into my heart.

      Patricia, thank you for your loving friendship and beautiful soul and all that you are. My friendship and love to you is always there.

  12. Dear Susan,

    I am wishing you a swift recovery.

    Ah… pain, that inescapable aspect of our human experience, and, great motivator.

    Thank you for this post.



  13. I feel your pain Susan. May you have complete freedom from it very soon. Such a brave soul you are.
    I read with very much interest the comparison to psychological pain which upon returning to by thoughts or sharing can be as equally excruciating as the original pain. That is why that even though people as a rule tend to think that speaking about it is therapeutic – it is not after a point. The point has to be reached by the individual but it does exist. If on track to a partial bit of happiness it is best not to re-visit the painful times. Thankfully this will not be the case with your poor hands and fingers!

    • Thank you Lesley very much. Psychological pain can be extremely excruciating and because of this tends often to be denied or numbed by means of medication, drugs etc. There are many other beneficial ways of ‘handling’ this so that one can get to the source of this kind of pain if one chooses to go on one’s own. Recognising it and accepting it and expressing it by way of writing, painting, meditating, prayer are just a few that come to mind – as well as seeing the joy and beauty that there is in the world.
      Your words lighten the pain, so thank you Lesley! I will be free of it, in time!

  14. Susan, your words are wise and well written. They bring to mind the saying “No pain, No gain.” I think that the pain can also indicate other psychological issues. For example, my back problems and my pain, indicate that I didn’t “stand up for myself” as I had no confidence in me. I think pain can provide us with much information, if we only look!

    I’m applauding your excellent progression with your hand. Before long you too will be applauding (literally) for yourself! I love your words!

    • Thank you so much Gwynn. Too true that psychological pain can express itself in the body. Psychological distress will always look for expression, like Nature herself always seeking expression.

      Thank you for your encouragement Gwynn – I appreciate this so much.

  15. Hi Susan
    I’m glad that your hand is finally getting better. Pain is no fun but as you said it lets you know that you’re on the mend.


  16. Be patient, and know others are wishing you good progress. a humorous motivational speaker, and also a friend of mine, Vinny Verelli says:

    “No pain, no gain? No pain, no pain!”

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