By Richard P. Holm M.D.
The word pain has many definitions. In general, pain represents an unpleasant and harmful physical or emotional experience with a purpose. It is something to be avoided, helping us withdraw from destructive circumstances, protecting our bodies while we are healing, or encouraging us to avoid from danger. Helping people deal with pain is the most common reason people go to the doctor and I should add is also the most common reason people use alternative medicine.
It is important to realize that people have different kinds of pain.
A 50 something year old man came into my office this week with abdominal pain. It was dull, cramping, nauseating, and drove the man to stand up from his chair and walk around the room ineffectively trying to find a comfortable position. The differential diagnosis included gallstones, pancreatitis, appendicitis, or an intestinal obstruction. With testing I defined the diagnosis in order to eventually give him relief.
A 20 something year old blond woman came into the Emergency room with severe sun burn. She forgot to put on the sunscreen before she climbed into the boat, and three hours later after all that beer and fun she realized she was in trouble. Her bright red color and blisters indicated the extensive first and second degree burns and it didn’t take a medical degree to tell that she was miserable. Pain medicines and salve helped.
A 30 something year old with a ten year history of migraine headaches presented to the office with another pounding one-sided headache, and as I entered the room she was curled up on my examining table, the light was off, blinds were pulled, and her eyes were squinting and watering. I gave her a combination of pills, which helped put her to sleep, allowing the vessels and muscles in spasm to let go and give her relief.
A 70 something woman lost her husband to a month long struggle with multi-system failure starting with heart, then brain, and then the tough decision to stop life support and let go. I watched how she deeply suffered, dove back into work for distraction, and finally came to relief of pain through connectedness with family, spirit, and friendship.
The word pain has many definitions.