Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pain in a Spotless Mind

When remembering all that was written about in the book Pain: The Science of Suffering, people losing limbs was mentioned frequently. If a person should want to erase the instance that the limb was lost, how do they explain why it is gone? In theory they should have memories in which they had it and one day they awake with no memory of how it left or when it happened. To even make the matter simpler, how about we look at a scar. A scar is evidence of an event that happened. Some do fade, but usually it is a blemish forever imprinted upon your skin. When a memory is removed, how do you explain the scar? Usually all scars have a story to go along with it. Whether it is humorous, traumatic, ironic or natural, the stories of scars bring people together. In a popular song titled Swing Life Away by Rise Against the artist speak about this very fact.

"I'll show you mine
If you show me your first
Let's compare scars
I'll tell you whose is worse
Let's unwrite these pages
And replace them with our own words"

The lyrics, while somewhat gramatically incorrect (or just incorrect in general *cough*unwrite*cough*), get the point across. In the movie Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind it is entirely possible for people to erase events in which they have recieved scars. How do you explain something you have no memory of? Can you live with that empty memory of how you recieved a mark on your skin that you cannot explain? I couldn't.

Keeping with the theme of pain and music, I realized on my playlist I had two songs that were actually titled Pain. One I am saving for a future post if I do remember to use it. The one I am going to talk about is Three Days Grace's Pain. I have been extremely obsessed with this song since the beginning of my Pain class in school. My favorite lines are such.
"You're sick of feeling numb
You're not the only one
I'll take you by the hand
And I'll show you a world that you can

This life is filled with hurt
When happiness doesn't work
Trust me and take my hand
When the lights go out you will understand

Pain, without love
Pain, I can't get enough
Pain, I like it rough
'Cause I'd rather feel pain than nothing at all"

The lines have seriously been haunting my sleep. Over the summer after I kept pushing away my then boyfriend and eventually ended the relationship, my mother told me I push people away before they can hurt me. I have been studying my actions, as much as I can from a biased viewpoint, and I have come to concolusions that she is right. Would I erase any of my experiences in life? No, because they made me stronger and able to handle everything. Should I have done things differently? Absolutely. I needed to allow people to help me and listen to what I was going through. Instead I pushed away anyone that wanted to help and shouldered everything on my own. Today, however, I refuse to depend on anyone.

Now as I am beginning to become involved in relationships I throw out everything that would turn people away from me. I never allow myself to get too attached. Never, thought, have I thought that erasing a situation would make everything better. Joel realized this too late but he did come to this point eventually.Even though he had his memories erased and felt the pain of meeting Clementine again he did see that he needed to have the experience of heartbreak to move on.

The Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind was a movie I have actually never seen much less heard of. It may have come up once when discussing movies but most of my friends tend to ignore me since my knowledge of pop culture is lacking (I have never seen ET or Star Wars). So mostly when I do see a movie, I need to think about it for a few days before stating an opinion if I like it or not. I have come to the conclusion that besides having to watch it again, I do like Eternal Sunshine. This movie has given me much to think about over the past few days. I find myself going through my own memories and wondering what I would erase if given the chance. That is if I would erase anything at all.

Most of the traumatic experiences in my life have shaped the person I am today. I know more about life and death then I ever have wanted to, but never was given the choice of having to deal with this emotional pain. I just did. My grandfather died when I was three years old, my mother explained the concept of death to me. I was young but yet old enough to understand that my “pop” was not coming back. Later that year an aide at my preschool had a heart attack and passed away. I was one of the few kids to understand the concept of death already. Most parents wanted it hidden, mine wanted to explain. Throughout the years after I had been to a few funerals and wakes. It was fairly scattered until my high school year. In an act of what can only be described as irony, my grandmothers siblings (starting from youngest to oldest) started dying. There were three consecutive deaths in three consecutive years before the pattern was broken. It happened that the next sister in line became extremely ill but ultimately survived. One of the siblings that passed away, however, was my godmother. There was a year of no deaths and then my grandmother (the oldest of her siblings) died. Another year passed and then the death of my father occurred.

How can you delete a prominent figure in your life? There was talk about deleting an abusive family member but they may still be needed. Deleting the existence of a mother or father, most forms are impossible to fill out. I have continuously needed my mother’s maiden name or my father’s middle to complete sections of documents. For FAFSA, I needed all of my parents information and just because my father died or has been deceased does not mean questions are not asked about him. Erasing a figure also means erasing everything that person ever taught you. From how to ride a bike or how to play a sport, if every memory of that activity included them in some way, do you forget to how to perform that action? The sense of smell is also strongly connected to memory, this is scientifically proven. Do you lose the familiarity of that scent or keep the awareness but not know why it is present? These are not all of the physical questions that just cannot be explained.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Power of Pain

Pain is never described in the same way by two different people. In the book Pain: The Science of Suffering by Patrick Wall, we find pain explained not only in the scientific sense but in a way understood by all. Everyone has experienced pain, some in the form of illness, some in emotional, some the pain of others around them suffering. Pain is a powerful motivator. When someone is suffering, it’s hard to understand what they are feeling. Pain scales can only tell so much about what a person is feeling.

The experience of trying to convey pain to someone who cannot feel what you do is a hard thing to do successfully. MRIs, CT scans, and x-rays have already predicted some doctor’s movements. The scales set up in “The Sense of Pain” give a realistic sense of how hard it is to articulate the level of pain one undergoes. The book takes us through experiences of people and many different forms of pain. For my brother, a doctor of pharmacy in the Mayo Clinic, pain came in the form of his job. He is an infectious disease specialist and also works on transplant teams in the hospital. As an infectious doctor he deals with the harsh realities of AIDS, CDIFF (a deadly staph infection), and other diseases that are commonly spread and hard to treat or untreatable.

Not only did he have to deal with the harsh reality of dealing with patients dying in the hospital, in February he had to deal with the prospect of his father dying as well. My father was diagnosed with cancer in November of 2006. He did not die from the cancer; my father died from an infection, CDIFF, which attacked his immune system at its weakest. The chapter “Your Pain” really hit home. I know how hard it was for me to cope with my father’s illness, but my brother now had to cope with possibly losing someone to a disease he is spending his life treating. It was hard coping with my own pain and watching my family struggle. It is hard to sit next to someone knowing they are going through pain and sorrow that you could never imagine.

The book explains to us how people cope with pain, what outlets are available, and what people are going through. I even learned about my own condition, something that I had originally just trusted the doctor with and never thought to look up on my own. Everyone feels pain. I just hope that with this book, pain will be a little less of a mystery and a bump in the road of life.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

About Me

I am a college student with very little time on hand for fun, but somehow it manages to happen. I am the VP of the mock trial society on campus and believe politics is best discussed in mixed company over the dinner table. I am a politics and government major (more commonly referred to as PoGo) and a rhetoric and professional writing major. My dream job would be to work on the staff of a politician as a writer or be a DA.

Onto the reason of getting involved in the Pain Seminar. When I was 15 years old, I was in a skiing accident which resulted in two herniated disks in my back. These disks soon began to press upon my sciatic nerve. Before the doctors had found out the problem, the damage had already been done and I was left with sciatica. This was a major step in my life because back surgery was not on my agenda at the age of 16. I still have some problems with my legs, less then a few years ago, but as long as I stay within limitations I am fine.

Other then the physical pain, I have felt emotional pain associated with death. In 2005 my grandmother passed away and two short years later my father died. I feel like the hurdles I have faced in my life have made me into the person I am today. Sic transit Gloria, glory fades. Yet the world still goes on.