A physician said to me that too many people are into pain. They should suck it up more. That was my family culture. Endure the headache, don’t take pills for it.
This conversation reminded me of how a decade after my brain injury, neuropsychiatrists noted how severe my pain was. Up until then, I was aware of it only when it ratcheted up to certain extreme levels. In between, I forgot about it, though it never went away. But these doctors brought it into my consciousness in an in-between time, and it became unendurable as a result.
Worse, the pain wasn’t my real problem, the injuries to my body and brain were. My injuries were what needed healing, but medical professionals didn’t try to cure those, only have me focus on controlling the symptom. (And yes, I see the irony of having it under control until they demanded I acknowledge it.)
Medicine is too focused on pain. Medicine treats pain with pills and meditation — it does not treat the cause of pain. And so patients learn not to talk about its cause but about the symptom, for the only way to get help is to have that one symptom alleviated. If medical professionals would take their heads out their asses and start looking at neuroplasticity in brain and body, start treating causes and pursuing cures, then patients wouldn’t overfocus on pain.
Patients would be free to discuss causes and trust their doctors will heal or cure them.
An Illustration of Focusing on Cause versus #Pain
A story in the Jan/Feb 2022 Reader’s Digest issue illustrates. A woman had increasing stomach pain. For some reason, no one thought to X-ray her for quite some time. When they did, they discovered her organs were all disarranged, and her intestines rotated. Her symptom worsened. A leading gastroenterologist said she was stressed and to meditate. (Why does everyone think meditation cures major problems?) She got worse. Well, duh, the cause of her pain wasn’t addressed. Eventually, she asked to see Dr. Kareem Abu-Elmagd, who rotated her intestines and rearranged her organs. She said, “I didn’t know I could feel this good.” That’s what happens when medical professionals treat causes not symptoms.
It’s time for medical professionals to focus on causes of pain not the symptom itself.