Hard Lessons

To paraphrase a Bruce Springsteen song, life has been giving me some hard lessons lately, about pain, loss, disability and hope. Years of chronic pain, my mother's death, my hearing impairment and other serious medical problems have sorely tested me. When I finally found a doctor who took my pain seriously, he asked me why I had checked "suicidal thoughts" on my new patient questionnaire. I told him, "I have 30 years ahead of me if I live as long as my mother did. I refuse to live in pain for another 30 years."

In all that I've learned and written since then, the most surprising discovery has been my ability to remain optimistic about my life and my future. If you hear despair, anger, frustration and fear in what I post here, please don't turn away. All is not dark, and eventually a glimmer of hope will light the path ahead.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Whatever your religious beliefs, do pain and suffering somehow make you a better person? Is a bone, or a heart, or a soul, made stronger by a break? Maybe. But an innocent baby shouldn't have to suffer before it qualifies for heaven, should it? The baby is a beloved child of God. I’m no baby – I’m 59 years old. Does my pain mean that I am, by contrast, an evil person, deserving of punishment? 

Maybe. But I no longer believe in the redemptive value of pain.      

All I can personally witness to is the destructive power of pain, its ability to rob you of independent functioning, self-respect, peace of mind. Swallowing my pain is swallowing a very bitter pill indeed. Mary Poppins sang that "a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down." If I must have this pain, why can't I have a spoonful of sugar to go with it?

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