Tag: Pain

Loving Pain as Given: A Review of Heroes, a Dark Twist on the Grateful Acre


For B, and other youth whose grateful acres host, if not prairies, at least patchy meadows. And for Gary McVey.

It’s been a year since Will Arbery’s play, Heroes of the Fourth Turning, took the conservative Catholic blogosphere – or rather, that part able to see the play or a private script – by storm. Now the script is available to the public. I ordered my copy here. If you can afford to, read it. Theaters remain closed, but the theater of imagination richly rewards reading a play. Reading reveals motifs easy to miss when a play just happens to you in performance and you can’t revisit it. This review addresses unspoken pressures, like the prosperity gospel (which may not influence orthodox Christians’ theology, but can influence their social expectations), behind what conservatives speculate is Heroes’ demonic finale, the “We” who may, or may not be, Legion.

Virgin Experience #3: Emergency Room and Follow-up Treatment


I’m in serious need of a rant. For those of you who are queasy about health-related issues, you don’t have to read this post. But I have to write it.

Sunday night, my husband took me to the emergency room. (He had to wait for me in the car for four hours due to virus restrictions.) I was in pain, and after taking tests (some very painful) and checking me over, they found nothing conclusive. So they suggested I consult with a gynecologist about a biopsy of the uterus. Yippee.

Meanwhile, I’m in consultation with my very knowledgeable nurse practitioner. She is suspicious after all the details I’ve given her (I don’t need to bore you with them), that I have interstitial cystitis. (If you want the gory details, you can go here.)

Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?


“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.

Member Post


I sometimes get to thinking about the human body’s exquisite sensitivity to pain and the suffering it has caused over millennia of human existence. How brutally painful it would be to have been dispatched by sword edge, or to die in childbirth, or even to expire with a simple case of appendicitis. Just an infected […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Motorcycle Accidents


Last summer I was browsing through our towns’ police department Facebook pages because sometimes I like to see a little of what is going on in that circle.  It’s very limited, but sometimes they have useful traffic or fire updates, and it’s interesting to see what crimes might be mentioned. One incident that stood out to me was the death of a motorcyclist on one of the main roads. The driver of a pickup had changed lanes into him and knocked him into a box truck. The details were sparse, as you would expect from a simple Facebook post, but the motorcyclist died, and it was hinted as likely the fault of the pickup driver.

Yesterday, I volunteered to be in the church nursery as I had been sick on my normal day and it just so happened that my husband’s aunt had also volunteered and were placed in the same room. I haven’t seen her for a while because she just retired and has been off to places like Kenya, the Philippines, and Missouri. She is one of those involved, social ladies that knows everyone and is generally up to speed on the happenings of our cities. I don’t know how people do that.*

The Opioid Use Hiding Behind the Alleged Superiority of “Nonopioid” Chronic Pain Treatment


The SPACE randomized clinical trial, which 234 veterans with chronic back or knee pain completed, has been touted as demonstrating that opioids are superfluous to chronic pain management. According to JAMA’s summary of the trial,

In the opioid group, the first step was immediate-release morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone/acetaminophen. For the nonopioid group, the first step was acetaminophen (paracetamol) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Medications were changed, added, or adjusted within the assigned treatment group according to individual patient response.

Quote of the Day #2: Singing Out One’s Pain


O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!

For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.

Give Me Misery or Give Me Death?


Doctors retire. That’s the context of my recent experiment in “detoxing” from two prescriptions, both of which strike me (but not yet the FDA) as good candidates for over-the-counter (OTC) sale. (Most striking detox effect so far: a massive earache.) One is Celecoxib, an anti-arthritis drug. The other is Montelukast, an anti-asthma and anti-allergy drug. What’s scary about selling both these drugs OTC is allegedly death.

Celecoxib is a Cox-2 inhibitor, and those drugs as a class still haven’t completely aired out the stink of death brought on by Vioxx. Montelukast maybe sometimes cause psychiatric side-effects, according to postmarketing reports, raising the specter of suicide (though postmarketing reports could report anything as a side-effect, short of “pet turtle died”). But the most frightening thing about Montelukast appears to be that it’s an effective asthma control medicine, and the FDA is apparently nervous about making effective asthma control medicines available to consumers directly.

Music, Milo, and Pin-Ups of the Heart


Conservatives are not exhibitionists. But real Americans value real-life experience. Which means, if you write, putting your real life on display. I was thinking this as I read @therightnurse’s recent, very frank post on fibromyalgia, written with a kind of directness I’m quite honestly not brave enough to attempt in front of a full audience.

Like many children with a musical ear, I used to improvise at the piano a lot. The impromptus weren’t technically brilliant – I was (and still am) clumsy at the keyboard –  but you could always tell a piano what you really thought, and it wouldn’t judge you. Instead, it would make music for you, music which could be judged, if there was anyone around to judge it (and often there was not), for itself alone. Some found the music beautiful, some found it annoying, but in either case, the music could be valued for itself rather than for the experience of the one who made it. For a shy child, that was mostly an asset.

Shy people may remain shy even when they’ve disguised themselves with music, and for years I had horrible stage fright. I still do, I suppose, it’s just now I’m marginally better at managing ways around it. Some audiences are less scary than others, though. Friends’ families, babysitting charges… “Why are all the songs so sad?” one littler kid my older-kid self was babysitting once asked me. “Those aren’t sad, just minor. Minor is beautiful.” It wasn’t a lie. Minor is beautiful. Even for those who tend to live life in a minor key.

Pain Demands An Explanation


shutterstock_314240933There are two truths about pain that every good conservative believes. First, pain is the most straightforward incentive; people need pain to correct their behavior. Second, we believe in “no pain, no gain;” i.e., that pain is a necessary sacrifice in the pursuit of accomplishment. In either case, pain is useful. At least, that is our moral ideal of pain and how it ought to act to fulfill its purpose.

That pain, whether of the body or the psyche, serves a useful purpose is easy enough to see. We need only consider what happens when it’s absent. Lepers and CIPA patients become horribly disfigured because they can’t feel pain. Lepers lose sensation in their extremities. CIPA patients cannot feel pain at all. They only avoid injury and disfigurement through a tedious process of consciously checking themselves, which is much less effective than simply feeling pain. Similarly, mania and psychopathy both reduce a person’s capacity to feel the psychic pains — shame, remorse, etc. — that keep us on the straight and narrow, and both mental states are quite sensibly regarded as dangerous.

That not all pain serves a purpose is somewhat harder to see. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and phantom limb pain both loudly contradict the notion that pain is always useful, but both are so freakishly rare they can be dismissed as aberrations. While much more common, garden-variety chronic pain is so frustratingly subjective that it’s tempting to moralize it away as a manifestation of moral fragility, as a “cross” bestowed on us by a loving God for the purpose of spiritual refinement, as a failure of mind over matter.

Member Post


All the rain we have been getting here lately reminds me of the frequent thunderstorms southeast Texas got when I was a kid. Back then, it “rained buckets” and you couldn’t run fifteen feet (say, from your car to the door) without being completely drenched. Sometimes you couldn’t even see that distance because of the rain. […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.