Sunday, November 13, 2011

Phantom Pain

I've been thinking a lot about "phantom pain" lately. It intrigues me. The Mayo clinic defines it this way: "Phantom pain is pain that feels like it's coming from a body part that's no longer there. Doctors once believed this post-amputation phenomenon was a psychological problem, but experts now recognize that these sensations originate in the spinal cord and brain."

If you think about it, your brain has been wired since birth. It's the message-center. Imagine how many messages your brain sends to your body parts on any given day, without you even THINKING about it. Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I have sensation two inches out from my chest. Two inches out, there is nothing. Zippo. Nada. Now, we all know that something does not have to be present to cause pain, but seriously, this is WEIRD!

My Dad died 13 years ago. Prostate cancer cut him from my life when he was only 65 and I was 38. And yet, there are days when I honestly think, "Oh, Dad will love to hear that story!" And I almost head to the phone to call him. It's phantom pain! I was so used to sharing joys and stories and laughter with was wired into me after 38 years of being his daughter.

My life has changed in big ways this year. That breast cancer and a mastectomy was a part of it all has given me much opportunity to consider symbolism. Cancer invaded me. It was found. It was dealt with. I am forever changed by it. Is that a bad thing? Believing as I do in a Good God, I am going to say NO. It is not a bad thing.

Phantom pain is a reminder. It reminds me of what was, and what is no longer. By God's grace, I will be a more compassionate, kinder person because of this reminder.