Pain, Prayer, and Breathing

Mouth surgery left me in quite a bit of pain.  And yet a girl’s got to eat.  And talk at least a little bit.  What on earth am I supposed to do?

(c) AdobeStock Photo

(c) AdobeStock Photo

What a great way to say, “Happy retirement.”

I was feeling nervous.  Even a bit anxious.  Reassurance from my sister Ann had helped somewhat.  I’d also prepared soft food for the first few days.  I was as ready as I could be, I guess.

I got to the doctor’s office.  Some kind of numbing gel, then the shots began.  OW!  I could feel them.  Some brought involuntary tears to my eyes.  He could see I was affected.  “Sorry,” he said.  I know he meant it.

After one-and-a-half hours, the surgery was finally over.  Listening to Josh Groban sing helped to pass the time and calm me down.  Now it’s time to go home.  And figure out how to live for the next few weeks.

When can I eat solid food?  When can I sing?  When can I exercise?  How do I brush my teeth?  Suddenly the simple things aren’t quite so simple.  And the fledgling routine I started was already upset.

But as many questions as I had, that was nothing compared to the pain.  Most of the time it was fairly manageable.  Then suddenly it would zap me and just lay me flat.  I had ibuprofen to help, but the pain often hit before I could take the next pill.

I found myself tensing up.  Tightening against the pain, as if to fight it.  But that didn’t work at all.  It only made it worse.

So I prayed.  Prayed for the grace to experience the pain, to be present with it.  I thanked God for the pain that reminded me how much he endured on my behalf.  I thanked him for the pain that reminded me that my body’s defenses were rushing to the spot to work its healing magic.  I thanked God for the pain that reminded me to be gentle and tender in that area.  Otherwise I might just go about my business, completely ignoring it.  I thanked him for the pain that forced me to rest so my body could do its work.

I also breathed.  Not to steel myself against the pain, but to breathe into it.  As each wave came, I breathed with it.  Inhaling healing energy with each breath.

It was amazing.  Every time I thought I couldn’t stand the pain and tried to fight it, it got worse.  Then when I prayed and breathed into it, it calmed down to the point where I was able to sleep.  Open my mouth a little to eat something with my tiny spoon.  Brush the rest of my teeth.

It’s funny, isn’t it?  When something hits us, we stiffen.  Steel ourselves against the onslaught.  Come at it with force.  And what do we get when we meet force with force?  A headache.  Concussion.  Broken bones.

What if we soften instead?  Let the pain or negative energy pass through us without stopping there?  That’s what I did when I prayed and breathed.  I didn’t come against it.  I didn’t absorb it.  I let its energy pass through my body, and I rode its wave toward healing.  Being present with the pain helped me put it in perspective.

Have you had an experience like that?  Have you ever fought against something painful?  Something you definitely didn’t want?  Something you believed was harmful even?  What happened when you fought?  If you’re anything like me, you probably found yourself more miserable than before. The pain amplified by your anger or frustration.

And then what happened when you lightened up?  Softened?  Breathed into it?  Maybe even accepted it?  At the point of acceptance seems to be where the true healing begins.

If you have a story that will inspire and encourage us, please share in the comments.  If you’re dealing with pain right now, feel free to reach out.  By praying and breathing together we can ease the pain for one another. 


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Debra Healey

    Hi Kathleen, sorry to read about your pain and I do hope it is softening and lessening as you heal. I to had a major pain crisis right after retirement that sidelined me for months. At first I did freeze and constrict which did not work at all! Once I softened, accepted that this condition was temporary, I slowly started to move again and added in meditation and daily journaling. I now look back on it as my time to re-set my body and routine and I learned how to “just be”. I now look on that episode as gathering wisdom for my new way of being and listening to my body tell me when to slow down.

    • It is getting better. Not as quickly as I’d like, but that’s part of the breathing too. Being with what is, and not wishing it was something else. How has learning to just be helped you as you’ve continued in retirement?

  • Ohhh, so sorry you’ve had to endure ongoing pain, Kathleen. And wow, how you’ve enriched us with what you’ve been learning. Thank you! Reminds me of childbirth, using Lamaze technique to ease and simplify a safe labor. I’ve got a few relationships that could use some targeted breathing and presence.

    • I hadn’t thought of Lamaze, Laurie. You’re so right. I think we all probably have a few relationships that could use this technique. :)

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