Physical Pain vs Emotional Pain

December 05, 2020

Photo of a skeleton sitting down resting its head in its hands and its elbows on its knees. The background is black, the skeleton is light grey and the spine and head are highlighted are highlighted gold.

Facebook reminded me that three years ago I was in Mexico for my annual beach getaway. That year was special because I had my three besties join me as there were two milestone birthdays to celebrate.

Lo and behold, I got stung by a stingray on the 2nd day of my trip! Yup, I was tossing the frisbee in the water with the girls when I managed to step on a stingray. I immediately shrieked and when I pulled my foot out of the water, it was already bleeding and the pain started to come fast and furious.

I was stung on the padding of my foot directly under my left big toe. So I hobbled out of the water with the help of my shocked friends and quickly found a beach chair to lay down on while they started to access the situation. Thankfully, two of my friends are nurses (one an ER nurse in fact), so they went for help while my 3rd friend stayed by my side and helped me breath through the pain – just like I had during childbirth.

By that time, the pain had fully kicked in and it felt excruciating. All I remember saying is “I’m not leaving this resort. I’m not going to a hospital.” The onsite medical person poured vinegar into the wound to clean it due to all of the sand in the wound (can you say painful?). I guess the pain from the sting was the actual venom that the stingray release…for real! Compared to my two all-natural childbirths, this was the most excruciating pain that I had ever experienced.

The pain lasted for a full two hours and my friends were getting concerned after the first hour, but I breathed through it, cried through it and thankfully, the pain subsided and disappeared. Because it was a small resort, people were approaching me throughout the week asking about my foot and how I was feeling. One person said, “I heard you scream and I saw the pain on your face when you were first stung.”

What is so interesting, is that the memory of that pain is gone and feels like a dream. It was real physical pain; yet nothing like the emotional pain that I feel related to my caregiving role.

Why does the emotional pain linger? Why does the emotional pain feel more like waves in the ocean that have low tides and high tides? The emotions go out and come back in yet, unlike the ocean tide, the timing of our emotional waves are unpredictable and can often catch me off guard and confused.

What has your experience been with managing your caregiving emotions? Please hit reply and let me know





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