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Last Saturday, I got checked by my neurosurgeon again. She offered to increase the dosage of my pain medication. It was tempting, really, but I said “no”. She was surprised because her job was to ensure that I feel zero pain. I explained that I want to be able to honestly answer my orthopedic surgeon whenever he asks if I feel any pain after a certain strengthening exercise.

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Pain is not the disease. It is a symptom. I want to hold on to that symptom so that I could be aware of what is going on inside of me. I have two 4 cm. Tarlov cysts that are being monitored. The neurosurgeon will only operate on me if the cysts are damaging my nerves (a possibility when they grow? any Tarlov cysts sufferers out there?). At the moment, they are eroding my bones. This is actually minor compared to the complicated surgery that it will take to remove them. The neurosurgeon has said as much that reconstructing the spinal sheath after cyst removal will be difficult. That is not exactly a comforting thought.

I am finished with my physical therapy sessions. I miss them because they make me feel rested. Now that I am working full time as a multimedia instructor, I wake up and go to sleep in pain. The comfort that this gives me, though, is the fact that my nerves are fully awake and working. They are not damaged. I am alive and feeling everything with full intensity.

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personal, rant

A Relationship with Pain

In fifth grade, in the school lab where classmates were afraid to prick their fingers for an exercise that I now understand to be questionable, I pricked mine. Like young vampires hungry for a single drop, boys and girls flocked to get a donation. I was pleased in a strange way – strange because I was never the sort to really care if people wanted me to be part of their clique. If someone wanted to be my friend, then fine. In college, I had my share of several true friends. We were a mix of guys and girls, rich and poor, cheerful and jaded, ┬ábut we all had one thing in common: a love for the arts and computers. We were animation students.

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In high school though, when things were a little bit lonely, a prick of a finger can turn into art. Droplets of blood became a miniature painting of a rose. They asked if I was alright. I was fine, really. I discovered that physical pain is better – easier to endure, at least – than emotional pain.

As a mother giving birth, pain was glorious and necessary. It gave life to a wailing infant, alive and hungry for more about living. A shot of Vicodin was still a bonus, though.

As a mother, however, pain has become equal to fear. There is the fear of leaving somebody behind, someone precious and beautiful. Youth can make you embrace risks but experience teaches caution. Caution is boring but wise.

Life is a relationship with pain. We all have to go through not just surgeries and physical wounds but also heartbreaks and disappointments. We just have to understand when to endure pain and when to overcome it.

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