Re: Distraction

Covid Pandemic, Climate Crisis, Trumpian America, Rainy Day Mondays; are some of the persistent bad news realities of our current world. Sometimes it seems like staying in bed all day is the right choice. Logically we can’t escape from these inconvenient truths so we thrash about trying to find a distraction. Even for a moment the respite a distraction provides can seem like a holiday from inevitable doom. There is good news to find these days, but you have to be watchful. It’s also incumbent on us all not to be like Rachel Dratch’s character, Debbie Downer. We all know someone like her can be as negatively infectious as any virus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qse8erP8zEk

A friend once told me she devoted one day a week as a ‘techno-free’ 24 hours. She eschewed devices that brought her news, while choosing to distract herself by walking around town, meandering in parks, or hanging out at a coffee shop watching others. She also loved to read, my favourite distraction, and would often bring me wonderful suggestions that helped me broaden my world view. I admire these approaches to shutting out the busy world. It’s way healthier than was my sister’s distraction of choice: alcohol. There really is nothing that can make problems completely disappear, unless you are a magician.

A magician is skilled at the art of distracting the audience. This talent has been called The Art of Misdirection: While you are busy looking here, the trickster will do something over there. This brings distraction to an art form and I find it so very amusing. As a child I marvelled at the escapes of Harry Houdini. I loved watching the sleight of hand of Canadian Doug Henning and the theatrics of American illusionist David Copperfield. Recently I have been turned on to the unbelievable close-up work of the British magician called Dynamo (Steven Frayne) and stunned by master pickpocket Apollo Robbins, who is able to distract the audience so well one begins to doubt one’s own common sense. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZGY0wPAnus

Along with word pursuits, watching others is a favourite distraction for me; bless those entertainers. Some people are distracted by the joys of cooking and eating, not me. I can lose myself in a challenging crossword and have been known to stare out to sea for great lengths of time. Thinking really is my favourite distraction. I’m contented getting lost in my thoughts. It’s a form of meditation; I just have to be aware that as I ponder, I dwell longer on positives. For example; our newspaper recently reported that in one month 170 people had died in our province from drug overdose while in that same month, in that same province, 415 births had been recorded. How does one deal with those two numbers?

People have been distracted by music throughout history. Music can bring a moment of peace, while directing our attention to a more promising land.
Curtis Mayfield led us well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOXmaSCt4ZE

Re: Pain

Recently I opted for some elective surgery. While in hospital, the most frequent question posed by the nurse was, “Are you experiencing pain?” This question was clarified with, “On a scale of one to ten.” Aside from coping with the real pain, this question caused stress pain. I couldn’t identify the pain level, since it varied from moment to moment. The consistency of the pain was also a factor: there was dull ache, sharp spasms, performance anxiety, all over ague, perpetual angst, stiff muscular knots and constant ringing in my ears. It was impossible to assist the nurse’s valid question because I clearly couldn’t un-sort my feelings.

When it comes to pain, I’m a baby. I can take the sight of blood or a nasty bump but when I feel a low grade headache coming on I run to the medicine cabinet. I keep all the brands of pain relievers so that I can cover all the bases when pain strikes. I think of pain as discomfort, not the, ‘Oh God I’ve just been shot!’, sort of experience. Lucky me. I’ve never had an extreme level of pain. I’ve only been in one fistfight in my life. My sparring partner proclaimed to the grade six class one day that he was going to bring ‘A whole lotta pain’ my way. My classmates witnessed the choosing of the location for the fight later that day and some even showed up to see the result. It was over in a few minutes; blows were struck, noses bloodied, honour restored. I went home after feeling manly yet bruised. I was offered an ice pack and a hot cup of tea.

Recently I’ve been enjoying the drama of a British TV series, Call the Midwife.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tY0eUynAOY . The episodes have renewed my respectful belief that I could never give birth to a child. In reality, I’ve been a father to three sons, watching my wife handle the painful moments of childbirth. Now each time I saw a mother crying out to the television midwives I’ve moved into the room with them, almost becoming them, as though they hold a painful memory. Yet after the TV birth there is joy! How can this be? I’d picture myself immediately asking for knock-out drops.

We use the word Pain in our language frequently. Someone at the office is a ‘Pain in the Neck’ or worse, ‘A Pain in the Butt’. When we were bringing bad news we used to lead into the announcement by saying, “I’m pained to say this…”. Most country songs are about painful breakups or loss. This kind of emotional pain is surely at the heart of the OXY crisis.
https://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/marilyn-bulloch-pharmd-bcps/2018/08/how-oxycodone-has-contributed-to-the-opioid-epidemic

Even though I am British born I find it hard most times to offer a stiff upper lip to discomfort. I will take an easy fix, just as long as it comes over the counter and is medically tested. I hope I never know what real pain is.

Re: Relief

“Plop Plop Fizz Fizz Oh what a relief it is.”

If only other forms of relief came this easily. Tummy troubles are one thing yet I have an atmospheric feeling that there are currently so many troubled people in this world that relief may be hard to find and a long way off.

My daughter-in-law recently gave birth to a premature baby, my second grandchild. After they both returned from hospital, safe and healthy, I asked her what her first thought was as she held her child. She said, “Relief.” Her head had been spinning with tension of the event and the wave of relief, that her babe was now well, filled her consciousness. I was relieved that I could be nearby.

In my youth the idea of being a relief worker had certain attraction. Red Cross, CUSO, OXFAM, CARE were all possibilities back then to anyone who had wishes to provide humanitarian support to the globe’s needy. As a teen I only thought of relief in terms of the dramatic: helicopters, food drops and maybe the blue berets of the United Nations mobilizing to save lives in crisis.

Our games recognize the need for relief. For example, wrestling has its tag teams. Football has defensive and offensive lines. Baseball coaches send in a relief pitcher when the starter underperforms. Religion respects the need for relieving our worries. When we are feeling guilty about something it is helpful to be told that we have not been responsible or that someone has taken that sin from us. With the burden removed we walk taller and with more assurance.

Most times relief is easy to find; a cool shower, some shade, a friend who listens, a drink of water, aspirin, an answer to a question, sleep, a good book, music, a meal. Often, however, life is so layered with complications that it is hard to figure out what might bring us relief, so instead we numb the pain. Or we try to take it away all together by attempting suicide.

I’m not very patient with pain. My medicine cabinet is stocked with whatever I can acquire to be there for me when a part of my body protests over the normal stresses of life. I try to keep my complaints to myself because they are minor. I feel fortunate everyday that I don’t have a chronic condition. I have visited a psychiatrist who admits his specialty is more related to pain management than a specific DSM-5 condition. He understands that there is pain in anxiety as our body responds to the stress of living.

Drug use is at crisis levels in North America, as people turn to physicians, or failing that, the street, to cope with the pain of life. Reasonable people, denied access to medication that once brought relief are seeking other ways to chemically address their symptoms. Many die taking these problems to the underground economy, where relevant controlled dose measures are not part of the deal.

Buyer Beware!