If you ask medical providers their least favorite topic, I would hypothesize that it’s probably pain. It’s not because we don’t want to take the time to do a thorough physical exam, order x-rays, order bloodwork, or prescribe medication. It’s because we’re a bit frustrated with the opioid pandemic.
In actuality, we enjoy trying to figure out where the pain is coming from. We just don’t like being asked for controlled substances, like Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Morphine, etc.
When a patient complains of “all over pain”, I enjoy trying to figure it out. I typically discover that patients go a long time without knowing that they have gout (a buildup of uric acid in the bloodstream that affects joints, mostly the big toes), Rheumatoid Arthritis (different than “old age arthritis”), or even low Vitamin D (yep, that can cause joint pain). And once I diagnose them and start treatment, they feel so much better!
Thank God for modern medicine!
And sometimes, I catch something unexpected, like a fracture in the spine! Wow! Yes, I’m a bit of a geek but that’s what makes me a good PA haha!
And sometimes, it’s not physical. Sometimes it’s more than just pain.
I truly enjoy the book of Ruth in the bible. Naomi lost her husband and her sons suddenly and unexpectedly. During that time period, she was basically left with nothing.
She was so distraught that she even changed her name to Mara, which means “Bitter”.
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” Ruth 1:20 NIV
She was depressed.
Jesus even wept. He, being God in the flesh, wept. He felt the same emotions that we feel as human beings.
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 NIV in regards to the death of Lazarus.
Jesus was also distraught in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before he was betrayed. He tells his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Mark 14: 34 NIV.
Jesus. The son of God. Our Savior. Full of sorrow. To the point of death.
Sometimes with my patients, pain is not just pain. When the bloodwork returns normal. When the x-rays are normal. And when the prescribed medications don’t help, I start to investigate a little further.
That’s when I find people who are hurting…from the inside out.
I find people who are still grieving over their husband’s death 8 years ago and they can feel it in their joints.
I find people who lost a child to breast cancer and their body feels too heavy to pick up and continue day to day.
I find people who start crying in the exam room and apologize to me for crying.
I find people…hurting…from the inside out.
And when sorrow fills your heart, your body will feel it too.
When Naomi was left with nothing, I’m sure she felt physical pain.
When Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus, he probably felt physical pain.
And when Jesus describes his sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane to the “point of death”, I know he had to have felt physical pain.
And if Jesus felt grief, sorrow, and physical pain, it’s OK for you to feel that too.
And you should know that Jesus understands.
As a PA, please go see someone about your pain. It could be physical pain that needs to be treated. Or it could be something deeper and you should talk to someone to help you get through the pain that you’re feeling from the inside out.
As a Christian, please go see someone about your pain. But also know that Jesus felt both emotional and physical pain. He didn’t have to. But he did.
He did it because he loves you.
If you’re hurting, turn to the one who overcame all pain, the one who died to save you, the one who loves you even when you don’t love yourself: Jesus Christ.