What's the line between discomfort & pain? I've had a sort of bellyache all day that's made me feel depressed, but it only developed into pain later in the day, at which point I took medication for it. My oncologist says I have a high tolerance for pain (though she probably says that to all the old guys), but the pain I've been dealing with lately seems mostly manageable with extended release morphine twice a day. I never know quite whether I should take the short-acting Oxycontin when I feel twinges of extra pain. I guess what I'm trying to sense as accurately as I can the difference between chronic & acute pain. Not that one should feel the need to tolerate chronic pain for moral reasons. How far, then, does one go in treating chronic discomfort? Existing is suffering & all that. There are reasons for not numbing one's self out, but there are also reasons for not allowing one's mind to be filled with the distractions & fear of pain. Admittedly, I'm anticipating a time when my pain will certainly be greater. I want to know how best to navigate that coming landscape, which is why I've been going over the maps ahead of time.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

1 thought on “Discomfort”

  1. Keep on telling about this: I and others need to hear it maybe now, maybe later. It’s the sort of information that is hard to get. You are doing a fine thing to share your feeling, impressions, and questions.

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