Posted by: ritagone | October 14, 2015

What We (hopefully) Learn From Pain

They say if you want sympathy and/or empathy about something you are going through, talk to someone who has already Learning thru paingone through the same experience. Only a migraine sufferer, for example, knows the kind and extent of pain that is a migraine headache. Others can only imagine.

In fact, I’ve noticed about myself (and is this just me?) that when I am not in the midst of a migraine, I have very little recognition or remembrance of the quality and quantity of the pain I had experienced with my last headache. In other words, when the pain isn’t happening, I can hardly imagine it. I just know it was bad. That’s weird, but for me, at least, it’s true.

This past week I had two “procedures” that had to do with my body, which, at 71, is not surprising, because the old carcass is not as spry as it used to be. I used to pride myself on being fit and healthy, on not having to go to the doctor very often, and therefore it got planted in my feeble brain that I was somewhat indestructible. The last few years have shown me quite firmly that I am NOT! And forgive me if the last few blogs on Rita’s Ramblings have had to do with health issues; I used to have faint patience with those who did exactly what I’m doing now: wax on and on about their maladies. But stay with me, please, because there IS a point to all of this beyond the physical health issues, and once I’ve made it by the end of this blog, I promise you that I will then turn toward other topics to write about!

Even I am bored with my health issues and displaying them in public.

The first procedure this past week was 31 injections of Botox around my head and neck, a protocol that has been discovered to be successful for migraine sufferers 70% of the time! Now I’m waiting to see if I’m one of the fortunate 70% or the unlucky 30%. It takes a week to 10 days, I’m told, before you really know whether or not the Botox treatment has worked, because you would then have no or fewer headaches. So far, so good. No headaches. Fingers crossed.

But the procedure itself – while sounding rather horrible – was really absolutely easy, thanks to my dear friend and physician’s assistant Robert Higham.

I would always get a little annoyed when people went on and on about their illnesses, especially since up until this past year, I have been, as I said, pretty much malady free. Now, however, I understand the need – almost the obsession – to talk about what’s literally ailing you: if you talk about it, you can better articulate what is going on inside your body. You can express, hopefully, your fears and concerns in the context of a polite, run-of-the-mill conversation, hoping that your listener will say all the right things back to you. And that they won’t hijack your conversation with aches and pains of their own!

Believe me, my compassion for those who are suffering any kind of pain has increased ten-fold. And that’s something to be thankful for. Proverbs 14:10 tells us: “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.” Basically we are each terribly alone in our joys and in our sorrows, and especially in our pain. But this proverb notwithstanding, we do “weep with those who weep” when we have walked in their shoes a bit rather than not. Compassion often comes at a cost, the cost of our own suffering and pain.

And another benefit that being in pain and suffering gives to you: you have to decide to be thankful, to make the right choices, to understand where God is in all of what’s going on around you and inside of you. No more blithely skating through life ignorant of the possibilities that could cause you to stumble. You have already stumbled. You are not well. You are not particularly whole. You have flaws. You are – yes – an imperfect being. It’s overwhelming, but it’s a truth well worth grasping and making a part of who you are going forward.

And you know what else I’ve learned? When you’re suffering, when you are in desperate pain, there doesn’t really, truthfully seem much to be thankful for. You have to dig around consistently and deeply for something that’s positive, because you really don’t feel very positive.

And my pain and suffering consists of headaches. When I think of those suffering with major catastrophic illnesses or situations where the rug is pulled out from under you suddenly and terrifyingly, I am amazed that anyone gets from one day to the next without the occasional scream or rant.

So if you are experiencing any kind of pain and suffering today, if something hurts you physically, emotionally, spiritually, my prayer is that through it all somehow, in some mysterious way, God will touch you and comfort you as you have never felt Him or His presence before.

And that you will make as many good choices as you can, and that those who love you will forgive you for the bad ones.

No more of this subject. I’ve been able to share and vent and speak my mind. But I don’t want to stay here. I want to move on.

Let’s do that together, shall we?




  1. Thanks for the word Rita; simple yet profound, deep yet universal.

    I’ve never noticed Proverbs 14:10 ( “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy”) before. Wow, I can relate – those deep feelings that I believe only God can hear and understand.

    You’ve challenged me today. I want to do a better job of listening w/o judgement or opinion (through my own filter), but instead with love and compassion.

    Thank you.

  2. Thank you Rita- you said it so well.

  3. I pray that the Botox treatment works for you. As always, your blogs are so meaningful to me.

    • Thank you, Lucy. The doctor says it will take two to three weeks before we know if the Botox is helping or working. It’ll be two weeks Thursday. Meanwhile, I’m off to NYC with a girlfriend for a few shows and fine dining!! I appreciate your concern and thank you so much for the kind words about the blog. Hope all’s well in your world. Love, Rita

  4. Last night I read your blog post from yesterday morning and really appreciated it!

    A couple hours before I read your post, I had read the overall story on her blog of one of my former students (2012) who has battled Lyme Disease for five years. When I had her in class, she would mention occasionally that she had health problems, but I had no idea the extent of it. Reading the story of her pain and suffering and also how doctors treated or failed to treat her over the years (often blaming her symptoms on her) was so grievous to me. I think I would have given up on getting any help from doctors at all! And then shortly after reading her story, I read your post. It hurts me to think of the suffering of people I care about, but from a biblical standpoint I’m so glad that we know that God is there and also at work in and through the suffering. Somehow in ways we don’t begin to understand, the pain and suffering has purpose because of how God works in it.

    Here’s my former student’s story if you want to take a look—

    She is doing better and has recently gotten engaged! A guy in our church used to be in another church with her and has known about her Lyme struggle and her blog recently sent me the post announcing her engagement. So I’m going to email my congrats to her. And also my joy for her that she is better physically.

    Love ya, Betty


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