February 13, 2014
Historical diagnosis of what afflicted a famous figure is a dicey proposition at best. But I read of an interesting theory surrounding Ernest Hemingway's death by his own hand. He had suffered multiple traumatic injuries leaving his body a shadow of its former self, and this from a man who was known for his daringness and bravado. His pain left him unable to do the things he loved and that included writing. So one theory hypothesizes, guesses really, that had medicine been able to treat pain better half a century ago, perhaps he might not have taken up that shotgun. It's an interesting theory in that I can relate to my own life. My physical pain has been tormenting me of late to the extent that it's limited my ability, even my desire to write. Being in pain is exhausting. It saps your physical energy, your emotional energy, your very will. When I get home, my mind is not on how I want to enjoy my evening. It's not even spent on how to make the pain go away. It's spent on how to get the pain down to a tolerable level. So it goes with chronic pain. I can't remember the last time I've been pain free. As I've said before, I have developed a very deep empathy for patients with chronic pain. It's hard to treat and most doctors don't want to touch it or even know how to do it properly. My family doc, fortunately, has done right by me for which I am infinitely grateful. He tolerates a lot of my self-diagnoses (we usually agree so that helps) and experimenting with different modalities. I can only hope that I will do the same down the road with my patients. But it explains my lack of writing lately.