Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • For not being a tennis player, this really hurts

  • Is this just the latest sign of life's twilight on the horizon?
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  • “Life is pain. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is either lying or trying to sell you something.”
    What a fantastic, cynical line. Optimists would cringe at the thought that there is any grain of truth to what the character Wesley said in the climactic scene of the excellent 1987 Rob Reiner film, “The Princess Bride.” Pessimists, even realists among us know, however, that the line spit out with more than a little conviction by the character played by the actor Cary Elwes has a ring of truth to it.
    Pain. Just think about how gargantuan of a role pain plays in the human existence. What would our lives be like without pain? Would it be like a Utopia? Or even in Utopia would we get a headache now and then, or maybe get stung by a bee while we’re strolling through an idyllic meadow, hand in hand with the one we love.
    And that’s just physical pain, pain that makes you flinch, makes your brow furrow, makes you even utter an enthusiastic “Ouch!” or some other less family-friendly word.
    There’s emotional pain, too. We’re even being told now that depression, a chemically-imbalanced mental/emotional state of mind that much of the population has to deal with to varying degrees, is accompanied by physical pain. What’s the proclamation made in that current commercial for yet another prescription drug to deal with depression? Oh, yes, “Depression hurts.”
    Ah, yes, the commercials for the mountains of drugs and other medicines that exist to ease our pain. Aside from beer, vehicles, smart phones and investment options, what would advertisers peddle in TV commercials if it weren’t for the constant, timeless desire to ease pain?
    I’m off on such a painful tangent today because typing these very words is causing me pain. From my right elbow down to my fingers the pain radiates. It’s kind of a burn, mixed in with a little sting, and features various pulsating throbs and uncomfortable tinges and tingles. When I try to grip something heavy and lift it, especially above my head, I rely on my left hand and arm to assist, something I’ve never had to do before. Shaking someone’s hand in my traditional firm fashion suddenly hurts. I drink coffee out of my big mug at work now with my left hand, because making that twisting, turning motion with my right arm is no treat.
    I’ve dealt with pain before; who hasn’t? I’ve had a broken nose, a separated shoulder, a badly sprained ankle. But compared to most people, that’s peanuts. The strongest pain pill I’ve ever taken that had to be prescribed by a doctor was some Tylenol with codeine, and I certainly don’t remember enjoying any time in la-la land after swallowing one of those. Although, after taking one on the night I separated my shoulder about 25 years ago, I did swear I’d stumbled upon the love of my life. Was I doped up? Probably just young. We lasted about two years.
    Page 2 of 2 - But this arm thing, it feels like the first pain I’ve been faced with as a person who might be described as “no longer a spring chicken.” It feels like I’m dealing with this because I’m no longer young. It feels like a malady that a dad is afflicted with...a dad with kids who are old enough to wonder if their dad is starting to get “up there” and isn’t quite his young, spry self.
    My arm started hurting early in the summer. My doctor, when I visited him earlier this month, wanted to know if I’d done some kind of stressful, repetitive motion with my arm, like pounding a thousand or so nails while building a deck in my backyard or something. Nope, I said, all I’d done is golf…a lot. That might be part of the problem, he said, as he told me to get on a regimen of ibuprofen to ease the inflammation in my arm that he called “tennis elbow.” If it didn’t do the trick, he said, then a cortisone shot or some type of “platelet-infused” blood injection were other possibilities.
    Too bad I’m just not a pill kind of guy. I took a fair amount of Advil and the decrease in my pain was barely noticeable, so a few hours later when I was supposed to pop more pills, I figured the first dose hadn’t helped, so what good would a second one do? Since then, people who are much more experienced in the world of medicinal pain relief have told me that I need to get the ibuprofen “in my system” and keep it there. Only then will I feel some relief, apparently. When I scoffed at that notion, I was told by one person, in particularly depressing fashion, that “lasting, chronic pain puts lines on your face.”
    So that’s where I’m at? In my early 40s, a little flabby, more than a little bald, and now faced with the prospect of countless winces throughout the day, that typically start in the morning when I reach for my toothbrush…winces that will prematurely wrinkle my face?
    Ouch. That hurts.
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