A SHARPENED FOCUS ON PAIN
When you’re in pain, it’s hard to know what, exactly, should be the center of your focus. Is it the pain itself — the joints, muscles, bones? Or is it the movement of pain – where it is and the rate at which it intensifies?
Pain isn’t something we can ignore.
Like the many other symptoms we deal with regularly, pain is just one indication of how we’re feeling. Dealing with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, RA, MS, lupus, Lyme disease, etc. offers us plenty of symptoms to review. Mood, fatigue, body stiffness, digestive upset, etc. also provide a reflection of our overall health, but they’re not usually the center of the focus.
Pain gets the spotlight.
But, what if rather than looking at each symptom, we looked at how they fit as a collection? Together, do they paint a different picture? This strategy of looking at the collection of your symptoms is what gives medical professionals the information they need to provide a diagnosis and treatment plans. They review the individual symptoms – including pain – but they also look at everything as a whole.
Putting this strategy into practice makes me think of a story I heard years ago. A young mom noticed that some very strange pictures had been taken with her phone. She recognized that the odd, blurry, close-up images were taken inside her own home, but why, and by whom? The pictures themselves generated far more questions than answers. There were snapshots of silverware, bowls, cups, towels, and washcloths. Because of the ultra zoomed-in perspective, they gave no context whatsoever.
It took a while to piece together the clues to this puzzling mystery.
As it turns out, she’d had a bout of the flu a few days prior. She’d gotten her pre-school aged son and toddler daughter up and ready for the day, and then had headed back to bed to grab a few more minutes of rest. When she got up, she found that her rambunctious daughter had emptied some kitchen cupboards and bathroom cabinets onto the floor. After straightening up, she’d forgotten about it.
But her pragmatic and practical son had a different focus. He wanted to document that things had been out of place. More importantly, he wanted to document that it wasn’t his fault. By snapping a picture of every spoon, spatula, and linen, he’d created a digital trail of the crime scenes, but what about the perpetrator of the crimes? His acute focus didn’t allow for the fact that anyone else needed to see the big picture.
That’s how it can be with pain. Yes, it makes sense that pain gets the spotlight, but what’s going on in the shadows? Do you have unaddressed dental problems, hormonal imbalances, vertebrae misalignments, or food allergies? A wide variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms can be part of a clearer, more focused big picture.