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» Asclepius' Ampoule - The role of pain

Listening pain

by Erica Giaccone, nurse at Santa Croce Rianimazione (CN, Italy)

There is not just one kind of pain; pain has so many different forms, that if we try to make a list we would incur the lack of respect towards the types we would neglect. There are pains which are still far from being explained if not personally experienced.

When I was asked to write an article about pain, I felt a bit lost because I feel it's a huge topic to deal with, and very delicate, so I thought it wouldn't be possible to explain it in a handful of words. When people hear the word "pain" , most of them feel immediately afraid, probably because they associate it to a situation in which it's difficult, or even impossible, to deal with it and still have a normal daily routine.

In the last year of researches, consciousness about pain has raised up until the classification of some structures as "no pain hospitals". We have to refuse the idea that feeling a constant pain it's "normal", and we studied instruments as assessment scales to treat it: it's universally acknowledged that a person who's not overwhelmed with pain can have a more active approach to the illness, with a noticeable reduction in recovery times. Unfortunately, not every illness has a definitive cure: when science and medicine it's not efficient anymore, we start to think to a palliative therapy in the terminal phase.

In a lot of cases, pain can be seen as an instrument to feel better: in fact, the pain is the way that our body uses to warn us that something is going wrong, and it indicates to us where to concentrate our attention and our energies. That's why we have to accept it and listen to it. Our body communicate with us in every moment, but sometimes we ignore it and we just wait the pain to leave, maybe using painkiller. The correct use of painkiller in fact can be useful, but we have to remember that the pain is still there and we can't ignore it forever. An ignored pain tend to return more frequently and more intensively; that's the reason why we have to learn to consider it since the first time of its appearance, in order to rebalance our energies. The best way to take care of ourselves is to follow a healthy and balanced way of living, paying attention to our physical, spiritual and psychic necessities; on the contrary, ignoring or underestimating, with or without medicines, the messages that our body sends to us will take us to a worse pain. We're used to expect that medicine works as a miracle, even without the commitment to change some bad lifestyles (for example, instead of taking a medicine against stomach-ache after a blowout meal, it would be better avoid eating too much or eating low-quality food.). Our body knows what it needs in order to obtain a satisfying lifestyle, and it tells us: we just have to correctly interprete these signals. The best way to reach this purpose is listening to ourselves and take care of ourselves, nourishing our body as well as our spirit.

We live in a historical moment in which we tend to have the answer for everything, but we developed a strong sense of disorientation and depression: these words would like to offer a hint for a personal meditation and a different approach to our personal pain.

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