May 2, 2014

physical vs spiritual pain

     The patient was terminal and was well aware of his condition.  He was also in intractable pain.  No matter what pain management strategy was employed, it failed.  At last, a chaplain was called in to speak to the man.  The conversation that ensued was between them and their God yet the pain in the man went from a consistent 9/10 to a 2/10.  Some may conclude that he just needed faith and the power of prayer.  Others would say it was all in his head.  I would consider both unwise conclusions.  The man's pain derived from his existential anxiety.  Medication cannot treat the deepest set fears of the soul and heart.  And who among us would deny another person this pain, this suffering by trivializing.  Only by honoring it was that mystery entered.

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