After a prolonged bout of toothache and several sittings with the dentist, I think my suffering has finally come to an end. Or how should I take my hard-earned respite? Toothaches have the nasty tendency of recurrence but why should I now bother about that only to underplay my deliverance?
Toothache pains and we all agree on this. Not a single mortal should have any reason to disagree. But if we ask a dentist, what extra does he have to say?
'Yes, there're people who even don't complain of toothache. Clinically speaking, they should scream of pain when pus forms at the root of the teeth, or when the decay reaches right up to the base of the gum, but they don't.'
The dentists' treatise would explain the above phenomenon something like this: As a sequel to an attack of toothache, there is always some damage at the root of the affected tooth, and when its ability to heal itself disappears, the tooth wobbles and falls out. Sometimes, an acute toothache leads to the snapping of the connection between the sensitive parts of the tooth and the nerves, and this may result in a state of painlessness. The tooth may persist, but it is without pain, without hassles. Brave people they really are--even toothache does not bother them!
Pain leading to such a state of painlessness may not be the case always. Very often, it tends to be persistent, irremediable and chronic. Sometimes we even hear of people committing suicide to get rid of their sufferings. 'God, take me away. I can't bear it any more', 'Oh, if only I had a shotgun to kill myself…the pain is so unbearable'--the utterances are only from the depth of despair.
Not all types of pain can be cured--it's a medically accepted fact. There are many methods tried and tested, like cryotherapy (cold therapy), cognitive behavioral therapy, electrical therapy, immobilization therapy (e.g., casts, braces), injection therapy and nerve blocks, but more often than not problems get misunderstood and hence remain undiagnosed. Sometimes, the doctors even don't give medicines powerful enough to stop the pain because they fear the drugs may create addiction. But they should understand it clearly: Chronic pains no longer remain the symptoms; they are the maladies in themselves. The chronic sufferers know it better. They anyhow procure the drug and swallow them--be it morphine or any sort of opium derivatives.
There are methods prescribed in yogic systems. People try them--some get benefits some do not. Body massage, an age-old method, works but only as long as the massage session lasts. Acupressure may work or in cases it may not. So what is the exact prescription? Nobody ever knows.
Do then distractions relieve pains? Yes, to some extent, if they are really powerful. Take, for instance, the case of a wounded sportsperson or for that matter a wounded soldier. But stoicism ultimately gives in and pain surfaces. And when it does, the sufferer screams, shakes, grunts, shouts, clenches body muscles and gives innumerable involuntary twitches, not to call for any help nor to announce the onset of pain for drawing sympathy but to do something when God has stopped doing anything.
It is a cruel social dictum: Share your pleasure but keep all your pains to yourself. This means one has to wear her mask of cheerfulness, a please-all countenance. It's a double burden--to endure the pain and, at the same time, to hide it from all. Like shedding tears but not letting out a groan, stoically with absolute silence.
Hasn't pain got, after all, a lot of dignity attached to it?
A. N. Nanda