I woke up New Year’s day with pretty intense pain in my left hand. I managed to get through the next couple days okay but woke in the middle of the night Saturday with intense, burning pain in my fingers and wrist. I treated it with ice and was able to get back to sleep but Sunday was a tough day. Simple tasks like pulling on my socks or tying my shoes took great effort. I couldn’t make a fist or hold on to much of anything. I know. It sounded like carpal tunnel to me, too.
Today I was able to see my doctor. He thinks it’s gout. Yeah, I know. I laughed, too. I mean, does anyone get gout anymore? Isn’t that the stuff of American history? Ben Franklin and those other guys with knee-highs and buckle shoes? Turns out gout is pretty common and is caused by too much uric acid hanging out around your joints. It’s not that hard to treat and it looks like my doctor has this one figured out. I’m thankful for that but my brief exposure to pain opened my eyes.
For the many of thousands of people who experience chronic pain everyday most of them do so in virtual isolation. Do you know which of the people you see at church, at the restaurant, or in the mall are in intense pain? I think most of us have a problem accepting that people are in pain when there are no visible signs of injury. If there’s not blood how bad can it be? If there isn’t a cast, a wheelchair, or a pair of crutches you probably just assume that the person is pain-free. But many are not. There are untold thousands who are trying to get through the day under great physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. They are all around us. You may even be one of them.
How do you respond to people who are in pain? Sympathy? Avoidance? Empathy?