The weekend of recovery in review.

19 March 2007

As I've been talking about lately (probably to the point of annoyance), I underwent my second root canal last Friday, and I've been laying low to give myself a chance to recover. Dental work always knocks me on my six for some reason, probably due to elevated levels of stress hormones and my body trying to deal with all of the unusual chemicals that winds up in it. I've been cutting back on the amount of Motrin I've been taking, in particular - for over a week I'd been taking twelve to sixteen 200mg tablets every day to keep the pain in abeyance so I'd be functional. The last thing I needed was a migraine on top of my body's sinister trigeminal nerve firing constantly. On the other hand, my stomach and liver probably didn't appreciate having to process all of that ibuprofin, so I'm trying to give them a break. Still, there's a little tenderness in that tooth - I can't really chew on that side of m y mouth, which I have to be careful of, so when I absolutely need to, I limit myself to six tablets of Motrin every day and no more. I don't touch the Vicodin unless there is no other recourse, but I haven't had to do that since Friday night, just before going to bed. On the whole, I'm not a fan of popping pills to take care of everything. The body has marvelous defenses and mechanisms that take care of imbalances, excesses, and incursions, and to a certain extent you can train yourself to direct them consciously. The more you let those mechanisms carry out their intended task, and the more you practice with them, the more capable they will become. Conversely, the less you rely upon them, the less they work because the body reallocates resources depending upon what system is using them, so when you really need them you might find yourself in a bad way. Of course, there are limits to everything. Migraines can be made managable, and you can get through a day or two while having such a headache, but at some point your strength will give out and it's time to head for a dark room with the air conditioning off.

Pain is like a whiny child that you have to watch over for a week: Sure, it tells you when something's wrong and should be checked out, but even after you check it out it continues to jump around and yell and complain.

There is a breakdown point at which there really is no need to tolerate pain any longer. Once it's served its purpose (i.e., you get your ass to a medical practitioner and get whatever it is that's ailing you looked at) it starts to interfere in daily life by distracting you. Aside from a profound sense of masochism, or deliberately trying to increase your breakdown threshold, there's no reason to suffer any more than necessary. Maybe I'm turning into a wuss in my old age, but there are more interesting and entertaining things to do with one's life than put up with chronic pain.

I write all of this knowing exactly how many tablets of Motrin that I've downed in the past fourteen days - too many for comfort but they kept me going when I could least afford to cripple down. Trip to the dentist? Check. Appointment for procedure? Check. Need to wait a week for it, though?

I do what I have to do. I made it as far as I could, and rather than spend time and energy and wear myself out (which I wound up doing, anyway) I changed my focus to getting through everyday life with the tools I needed. This brings me right along to the topic of medically diagnosed constant pain - the condition where parts of the body hurt for no good reason at all other than to prove that they can. There are many reasons for this, from old injuries that never healed right to sharp things trapped near nerve trunks, to the brain itself going awry and the pain centers fire constantly (or nearly so) without apparent cause.

Frankly, I wouldn't wish this on anyone. I have a number of close friends who suffer from chronic pain of various sorts and it is not my desire to denigrate them, nor their condition. They've been through the stages, and medical science frankly doesn't know what's going on inside them. If it were in my power to cure what ails them there is a short list of things that I would not offer in exchange for their health to improve. I hate seeing people in pain, regardless of the cause.

Lest everyone start thinking that I'm trying to convince myself of anything, rather than organizing thoughts in my head, I think I'll cut this entry off before it meanders into the realm of the stupid.