The Gift of Pain (Unlocking Our Superpowers)
THE GIFT OF PAIN
Posted on October 12th, 2013 @ 11:12pm : I am doing the best I can to integrate my week in the hospital in a light-hearted and empowering way. Honestly, it was one of the most challenging and acutely painful weeks of my life.
Some philosophers describe life as "Consciousness playing a game to experience itself subjectively." In order for this game to happen, consciousness must venture through every type of experiential territory...from the most pleasant pleasures to the most potent pains. I feel that everyone's life is a bit of a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs, smiles and frowns. Bringing in the concept of reincarnation allows for the possibility of some "incarnations" to be far more pleasure-packed, or unbelievably uncomfortable.
I feel very blessed in my current life for so many reasons. I have the privilege to experience extraordinary things on regular basis. Some of my peaks of joy and bliss have come through adventure traveling, consistent yoga, meditation, and exercise, tantric sexuality, mindful eating, entheogenic plant medicines, and everyday miracles.
This week my consciousness seemingly decided to add a few new experiences to the Akashic database...I got to taste a wide array of flavors of pain, which rocked me to the core. I will share candidly here because I am not afraid of pain, and don't think it should be a taboo subject any longer. We all experience it, so why hide from it? I don't share this to receive pity or brownie points, but mostly because I was literally fascinated with the magnitude of pain my body could withstand...
The hospital gives a scale of 0 to 10 to rank your pain. 0 being no pain whatsoever, 10 meaning "Please God, Have Mercy on My Soul!!"
When I entered the Stanford Hospital it was about 1am. The initial pain of an infected abscess in my belly rated about a 6, pretty uncomfortable, but I could keep my swear words from coming out...36 hours later I was preparing for surgery to remove the abscess and what was left of my appendix. (My appendix ruptured a month earlier at Bursting Man...I mean Burning Man...and I had a device to drain the fluid from the wound in my side for the following month.) The nurses forbade me from drinking water or eating anything during the 14 hours leading up to surgery. Although I snuck a few sips around 10 hrs. before, a dry throat and stomach was very uncomfortable, and I began to understand the terror of what true dehydration can feel like. Mind you, they were shooting fluids into me through IV, though these barely satiated my thirst.
Eventually I went into surgery, which was a wild warp of timespace, because I laid down in the waiting room, listening to a doctor saying “Ok, here is the anesthesia” I opened my eyes 30 seconds later with immense pain in my stomach, and quickly learned that over an hour had passed and I was out of surgery.The recovery wasn’t too bad, because they gave me hefty doses of Dilaudid (also called hospital heroine) an opiate based pain-med, which left me feeling light and fuzzy...until...
12 hours after surgery I was in immense agony. It felt like I was 10 months pregnant with twin lawnmowers. The man who I shared a room with in the hospital was complaining about all the noise I was making, which was keeping him from sleeping. I couldn’t help but moan swear words or sing opera notes as my pain soared above a “10”, even with the painkillers.
The next morning, a new nurse came in with a unique sense of humor and some important information. She asked "Have you been passing gas?" I replied, "No, I don't think so"...She then explained that during surgery, doctors injected gas into my belly to inflate the cavity so they could maneuver their tools. She told me I needed to fart out that excess gas...
I said, "OK, lets go for a walk" Getting out of bed was borderline excruciating. I began slowly strolling down the hall in my hospital gown pushing my IV stand. I couldn't seem to push out any farts...Then I remembered that I am an excellent burp-er...I began belching incredibly loud, and it literally felt like a balloon was deflating in my belly each time. Many nurses turned and stared at these outrageous burps, but I was on a mission to relieve this pressure...
15 minutes and about 233 burps later I feel totally rejuvenated. Thank goodness this nurse informed me about the gas in my belly, and my proclivity for burping.
… After my success with burping, I thought I was in the clear. I ate a big lunch, and snacked throughout the afternoon. Then, it began to feel like I was in a Harry Potter novel… “just when Harry thought he had made it, the tides turned again.” As my food began to digest, I started to feel more discomfort in my stomach. I tried going “#2” and it felt like an L.A. traffic jam in my intestines. My girlfriend recommended I take a laxative. I’d never taken one in my life, and was fairly intimidated by them, but I wanted to release this blockage. I asked my nurse for a laxative, and she replied “OK, I will page your doctor and ask.”
At this point, I had returned to the toilet, pain level at 11, begging for the Universe to allow me to shmoo. I sarcastically said to my girlfriend, “I guess my doctor is the official poo authorizer”...”Nobody shall poo without my permission!” A sense of humor was crucial for me to hold some degree of sanity. Eventually “Dr. Dumpallower” handed over some powerful laxatives...
This night I was faced with a brutal paradox: take more painkillers and increase the constipation or forego pain meds and endure the insanity… I was writhing in agony for a good portion of the night. I literally entered non-ordinary states of consciousness through this pain. It was kinda cool. Every time a burst of butt pain began, the only way to channel the energy was through groaning out a loud “UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” ...I would rank the pain in these moments at a 27... (Luckily I had a new roommate who was more understanding of my predicament) I stumbled to the toilet several times with no luck. Finally in the morning I was able to push out one valiant fart. (I hadn’t farted since surgery, some 48 hrs. previous.) This fart was a good sign, but also an entry into the gates of hell. The last few hours of undoing this internal traffic jam were truly astounding. I’ve had broken bones, been hit by a car, etc., but this pain of constipation surpassed them all!
The pure ecstatic joy and bliss I experienced after finally squeezing out this poo was enormously glorious! I thanked every deity I could think of. I walked back to my hospital bed a new human being. It felt as though through this process I released ancient pain, which was embedded deep in my DNA. I had been to hell and back, and lived to tell about it. My consciousness had ventured through incredibly uncomfortable terrain, and gathered lots of new experiences.
I was discharged from the hospital later that day with immense gratitude for everyone who helped me through this wild week. I give thanks for my girlfriend, all the nurses, hospital workers, and my friends and family who sent healing energy and prayers.
The lessons from this experience are still integrating, though a few I have gathered so far include:
- Honor the pain. Don’t be afraid of pain. Go into it. Ask it questions. The pain has a message for you. It wants to be expressed.
- Keep a sense of light-heartedness and humor as much as possible. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at your challenges and obstacles. They are not as big as your mind thinks they are.
- Give thanks everyday for the unfathomable blessing of a healthy, able body. So many parts and processes working on behalf of your existence is truly remarkable!
- Love and forgive everyone no matter what they have done. Hurt people hurt people. You can stop the cycle with love and forgiveness.
The next section of this chapter is called “Healing Is Cool.”