Pain & Passion

Pain is experienced as a community.

On a pediatric rotation I met a beautiful nine-year-old girl with a complaint of shoulder pain. I questioned her trying and find a cause. There was no trauma associated with the pain. There was no bruising. Every movement was painful during the physical exam.

She had come to the visit with her father who was anxiously sitting in the room. It was obvious that his daughter's pain was affecting him as well. I asked the father, "What's going on at home?" The father explained that he and his wife were getting a divorce. Suddenly, the story made sense. This girl was literally carrying the weight of her parent's stress and pain on her shoulders.

We began to talk about the situation together. There was tears and laughter. While talking about the hardships at home I treated the girl with an osteopathic technique to relax the muscular tension in her shoulders and neck. I then taught them breathing exercises for relaxation and showed the father how to treat his daughter's shoulder pain as I had just done. At the end of the appointment the girl's muscular tension and pain had resolved and both her and her father were smiling. 



This experience taught me more about the community of pain than any book or lecture possibly could. 

Pain is not isolated to one person. Pain is felt by us as a community. No matter how hard we try, we cannot escape our human connections. We suffer as one. We celebrate as one. We are connected to everything, and everything is connected to us. This connection is the heart of empathy and the foundation of healing.

The photo above is the flower of a passion fruit. The word origin of passion is the Latin pati which means to suffer. Finding joy in suffering is possible because we have empathy for our self and we are more aware and accommodating to the needs of others.   

We do not love to suffer, but we suffer for what we love.



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