Bidding Farewell To Ghosts of Pain.

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by gapsych, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    New York Times

    June 21, 2010, 5:09 pm

    Bidding Farewell to Ghosts of Pain

    Early each morning I deal myself a daily hand of pills: Wellbutrin (450 milligrams) and Zoloft (200 mg) to ply the capricious oceans of postcancer depression, Provigil (200 mg) to keep exhaustion at bay and a chewable orange baby aspirin (81 mg) as a sweet and modest hedge against a heart attack.

    As the pills clatter to the kitchen counter, the ghosts start to gather. They are the shades of the rugged and bitter men who helped shape me as a child — Great-Grandpa Ora and Grandpa Bub, Uncle Lloyd and Great-Uncle Billy, to name a few — and they’re scowling. A real man, you see, isn’t supposed to take pills to ease what ails him. Even aspirin was suspect when I grew up, in rural New Hampshire.

    If you were feeling lonesome and blue, or your muscles and joints ached after a week of backbreaking work, beer and whiskey were the elixirs of choice. Pills? No thanks. They were meant for weak and fancy people — like the summer folk from Massachusetts — who couldn’t dig a cellar by hand or pound in a post with a sledgehammer or lug a brace of shingles up a ladder onto the roof of some swaybacked old house.

    Those men were the kind who believed that all of us were portraits of grief — some of us just didn’t know it yet. They sneered at all painkillers, except for whiskey … and hitting.

    They got into fistfights for the sheer hell and pain of it, the sting of skinned knuckles reminding them that they were still alive. Some beat their wives and children the way a dog tries to gnaw at the hurt in its paw. And others drove faster than reason itself, seeking out serpentine back roads in their souped-up Mercs and Chevys where the oak trees couldn’t quite get out of the way.

    My brother Mike, who doesn’t beat his wife or children but who raced stock cars on small and mean New Hampshire tracks when he was a young man, used to say, “If I’m going to hit the wall, I want to hit it hard.”

    A fifth of Wild Turkey or a quart of Pabst Blue Ribbon was perfect for the self-medicating set. That’s what their fathers and grandfathers had numbed themselves with, so it was good enough for them, too — and, by implication, should have been good enough for me.

    They didn’t trust pills, didn’t want their pain mediated. They acted as if there were an evolutionary advantage to suffering in silence. They believed this life was meant for pain; I think they were afraid that if you took it away, they might cease to exist.

    Prostate Cancer Journal One Man’s Story
    Dana Jennings blogs about his experience with prostate cancer.

    When we four kids got banged up, whether it was barking our knees or breaking a leg, at least one of our dour, sourpuss relatives could be relied upon to say, “Oh, you’ll live.”

    It took me a long time to unlearn those stubborn lessons. When I had my colon surgically removed in 1984, in the insolent invulnerability of youth I refused my painkillers as quick as I could — even though it meant long hours of night sweats, gripping the sheets, gritting my teeth. Apparently, I was no smarter than Grammy Jennings’s alcoholic boyfriend Frank Nay, who wouldn’t go to the V.A. hospital when he got lung cancer but preferred to waste away on an iron cot at home, nursing his pain like a shot of Old Crow.

    But by the time I had my cancerous prostate out two years ago, I’d grown up and away from my New Hampshire roots. I knew that the morphine drip was my friend and that his pal Percocet was a good egg, too.

    So each morning these days, I give a slight nod to those stout and gristly old ghosts, raise my glass of orange juice to them, then gratefully swallow my pills.

    Dana Jennings is an editor at The New York Times. His postings on coping with prostate cancer are at His posts will return after Labor Day.

    Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company Privacy Policy 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018
  2. Doober

    Doober New Member

    actually a nice little read.

    But I am offended by one thing, I am from Massachusetts and I think I know how to use a Wait til I get back up to New Hampshire and give someone a piece of my

    Interesting is the difference between generations. Think about all the alcholism that was not considered as such in that time period.

    Also think that the wiskey and shots of bourbon WAS the choise of medication for the people of this timeframe as the meds we have today is not something that was really mainstream for them folks.

    Cool article, thank you.

  3. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

  4. sascha

    sascha Member

    well written- thoughtful- self-aware

    i'm from Vermont so i know whereof he speaks. i lived in house out on a dirt road. i helped with its building- climbing ladders- putting up siding. then after my husband died i lived there with wood stove for heat. had a big garden. wow i sure couldn't manage that now with cfids.

    he's a good writer- sascha
  5. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    Wow, I am impressed with you Massachusettes and Vermont women!! But then I guess the state is somewhat irrelevant? Made me laugh, though.

    I thought his blog was a very interesting take about taking medications. I just happened upon the blog. I have not read his writings, but did see that he writes a regular blog about his cancer. I plan to read more and also look at some of his past blogs. I wonder if he is also writing a book?

    This article was very well written.

  6. Doober

    Doober New Member

    The writer makes fun of us Massachusetts people and now you call me a girl?????

    Now I am not sure who insulted me the worst....LOL

    BTW - I am a 39 YO Male, and also, I will admit most Vermont women are smarter than most Massachusetts men, though I would consider myself borderline on that subject (Thought I would point that out)...
  7. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    Oops, you know what they say about assuming things.

    At first I thought I had put girl instead of women but upon reading your post again, found the part where you are a man.

    So embarassing.