A patient was being transferred by wheelchair from post-surgical ICU to a regular ward. As the nurses settled him into the wheelchair, he felt a small prick high on the right side of his chest. Knowing the demerol supply was packed into a little box inserted into his chest there, he wondered briefly if it had become unplugged.

In that moment, he knew he should say something to the nurses. Like, “Hey, I think something poked me there, did my painkiller come unplugged or something?”

But he said nothing, partly due to drowsiness, but mainly due to his abdicate his own personal authority over his body to this team of highly trained staff. Surely, if it had come unplugged they would be checking it soon as they got him into bed. No need to say anything. His usual outspokenness was numbed by the uniforms and his own feelings of vulnerability.

So it was that, a short time later, after he had had his pillows fluffed  under his head in the new bed, sharing a ward with two other friendly souls, after the nurses had assured themselves that he was fine, all was well, and taken themselves off to do the paperwork, so it was that he suddenly sat straight up in bed, shrieking.

The nurses came running.

“What, what is it?” they asked in a panic. The older one put her hand firmly on his shoulder. She peered into his face where his mouth was wide open, his eyes squinting with agony.

“Pain. Pain,” he gasped, holding his body absolutely still, unwilling even to breathe for fear of experiencing more of the unbearable, unendurable, unimaginable agony.

The nurse, of course, quickly whipped the blue gown off his shoulder and grimaced as she saw, sure enough, the painkiller pack was lying across his chest at an odd angle, the whole thing entirely useless.

“It must have happened when we transferred him,” she said quickly. “Call the doctor asap, get instructions for a shot fast as you can.”

A few minutes later, the crisis over, he lay back against the pillows. Bliss. Demerol. How wonderful. He floated away on a cloud of peace. But at the same time, he was remembering something.

What was he remembering? Oh yes. That moment when he had felt the needle come out, when they were placing him into the wheelchair.

He had known. But he had not spoken up. Now why didn’t he say something? It seemed odd that he had not told them at the time.

This patient had just passed a choice point. And no doubt, he had passed thousands of such points in his life already, and would again.

When we look back on our lives, we sometimes feel that we were mistreated in certain situations. But one painful lesson I learned years ago is this: no matter what someone else has unjustly done to me, if I search the background and my own actions or non-actions, I will certainly find that I myself am at least 80 percent to blame for the unhappy events I felt I was forced to endure against my will.

This is painful to face up to. But few lessons in life are as important as this one. As Joe Vitale in the video The Secret assures us, we choose it all. Us. No one else. Unbelievable but true.

Psychologists will tell us that when we make a choice, there is always something ‘in it” for us. Some reward. Peculiar to our own self.

So take this post-surgical patient above. He could have avoided the pain he endured. But he chose, in fact, to endure it instead. Why?

Was he curious? Did he want to know if post surgical pain was really all that bad? Did he wonder if he could do without the painkillers? Or did he want some attention, at some deep level, did he want the nurses to come running? Maybe he lives alone and was not looking forward to being all alone in a six week recovery plan at home. So having the staff fuss around him in a panic was, perhaps, rewarding. Or, maybe he just really wasn’t paying attention and didn’t want to bother them.

Whatever the reason, he had the option of avoiding the pain and he chose to try it out.

Of course, the staff should have automatically checked the pack after transferring him from bed to chair and back to a bed again. But they didn’t.  Why didn’t they? Each one of them knows to do that, but no one did.

Could it be that they were all in collusion with his desire to try out the pain? Unconsciously? At some level? Probably not…I can’t quite get there, but still, maybe.

The important thing about all this is that we have the option to change our life experiences, large and small, all the time. So, if we have lived our lives at a level of struggle for fifty years or more, the question is, WHY??

There is a reward in there somewhere for doing that. Maybe we want to be like our parents, want to feel the familiarity of the kind of home we grew up in.

A friend asked me one day, “Why do you live in such a small house when you could afford something bigger and nicer??”

I replied honestly. “Being in a little run-down cottage with a view of the mountains across the town, with the smell of the pulp mill nearby, it makes me feel like my mom is here in the house with me. I like feeling her presence.”

She looked surprised but said, “OH! Yes, I can understand that!”

Well, to move on, I need to get over needing my mom to express her presence by the pulp mill proximity and the run down cottage. So I need to take a look at that. I guess. Maybe there are more luxurious ways of feeling her presence.

My point in all this rambling is that in every day of our lives, we face choice points. We make a decision about each one of them. Without really thinking about it. Habit unfortunately often dictates what choice we make. How about stepping out of the mold, the rut, the past, and taking on a new strength, step out into a new dawn in resolute decisions both large and small?

We can change. We can look, feel, and act differently, dress differently, change our job and our friends and our locations if we want. And we can call on our personal Guides and helpers from the other side to assist us in finding good, supportive choices that will work out best for us. We are not alone as we face our daily choice points.

Pain and struggle may not be our best options. Maybe we are just so habituated to them that we feel lost without them.

Maybe my mother, living her wonderful life of freedom and new discoveries in The Park on the other side, her life of struggle left behind, would be happy to express her presence to me in better ways that a worn out cottage and the smell of pulp sulphur.

Maybe I need to start getting comfortable with that idea. I’m not a kid any more. Time to grow up.  My mom sure has.


About gentlenurse

Blogging is not only a pleasure, it is a basic necessity...I don't know how I have lived so much of my life without a blog. It gives me a place to write, a motivation to write, lots of reasons for reading lots of mind-expanding and challenging books, plenty to think about and be happy about. It has become a centerpiece of my retirement life along with my friends and pets, my faith and my afterlife journeys.
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