Friday, January 20, 2012

Pain: Common Connection with Another Stranger

A middle-aged man looking somewhat unkempt boarded the crowded bus I was on at one of the stops in the DTES last night. Though I judged him stereotypically as homeless and/or an alcohol and/or drug addict (see my posting, Beauty in the DTES, Jan. 24, 2011), my perspective was soon to change.

It changed once I noticed he was in pain and later when he started sharing his story. I could tell his back was in extreme pain as he squeezed his eyes shut – I sometimes do this too when I feel intense physical pain – and hunched over, tightly clung onto a railing at the very front of the bus, having his back towards the front window.

As the bus was jam-packed (not sure why) at a few minutes before 9:30 pm, I asked a woman at the front of the bus behind the driver, if she could give up her seat for this “man who was in pain.” I thought I spoke loud enough, though whether she heard me or not my request was ignored, unfortunately.

Now, during our entire ride to the bus loop in North Vancouver (about a 25-minute ride give or take), I was also in physical pain. I had recently been experiencing intermittent, almost constant pangs of pain in my left heel, a most likely sign of the beginning of plantar fasciitis.

This is a condition that I am familiar with having experienced it a few years prior for the first time. In my case I believe it is attributed to ill-fitting shoes over the years, as I have narrow feet and high arches. At that time, I could barely get out of bed, i.e., walk on the floor, which apparently is a very common symptom.

For those of you who don’t know, this painful condition can be brought about by the inflammation of the tissue at the arch of the foot. It is common to athletes, unlike me, and middle-aged folk, like me, and those who are overweight, somewhat like me, as per the BC Health Guide (

Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand comfortably for more than a few minutes, if that, I sat uncomfortably on top of a railing at the front, an area meant for luggage and extraneous bags, etc.

Upon seeing this man in pain and hearing part of his story about it (including titanium rods in his body), I felt that my pain paled in comparison. Interestingly, whilst listening to him share (and sensing he was partially baring his soul), I forgot about my own pain for a little while.

This stranger spoke about being on opiates, not wanting to be on any pills as he hates them, but feeling he didn’t have any other choice. Though he wished to be off them as his tolerance level had lessened over time, he had since doubled the dosage as this seemed to help.

Long story short, I was very grateful to have met this man to again remind me of a lesson. Similar to one of my previous blog postings entitled, A Tribute to David: Connection with a Stranger (Oct. 27, 2010), I relearned that I need to be grateful for what I already have as things can always be worse, including pain. Albeit painfully, at least I can still walk!

I’m always reminded of this lesson too, in particular, when I see someone in a wheelchair. When I do, I express thanks quietly for my body, especially my functioning limbs and digits that I have.

And someone in a wheelchair did board the bus during our trip. So I witnessed two experiences to remind me that though I may be in pain from time to time, I can walk and stand, run, and dance. Lucky me!

What lesson(s) have you learned about pain?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bear with me ...

Please bear with me as it has been a very busy couple of weeks for me. However, I realize too that I write best when I'm NOT under pressure as my blog posts seem dry when I do. Thus, I'm considering writing not necessarily every two weeks like I used to, but rather more so when inspiration hits and more importantly, when I have the time.

Recently, I felt like I had nothing fresh to write about. However, a couple of incidents lately triggered some newfound inspiration. I still need to write it so am thanking you for your patience, in the meantime. : )