Monday, February 14, 2011


St. Catherine of Siena - who suffered with joy

As I sit, trying to get my homework done for Biblical School, which needs to be done in one hour, I am contemplating suffering.  

I left work today because my back hurt so bad I knew I needed to take a muscle relaxer and go to bed.  Which I did.  When I awoke, my back pain was tremendously decreased which actually surprised me.  Unfortunately, it was joined by a migraine.   I have a migraine which is also causing nausea.

I wonder if I should embrace these sufferings and try to suffer them with joy.  

Or should I do what I normally do and try to endure without complaining too much and take medication if I can and try to get rid of whatever ails me?  I do "offer up" my pains for the souls in purgatory, and always have.  But that doesn't mean I wish to prolong them.  

When I was a hateful "former" Catholic (which I don't believe you can ever really be), one of things I hated the most about our faith culture was the whole worship of suffering.  I remember my mother and her friends talking about their friends and saying "oh, she has SUFFERED so!" as if that made her saintly.  I didn't buy it.

But I am rethinking that and most things.

I would normally ask for your prayers.  Maybe I should ask for prayers that my pain be extended?  I don't feel that one in my heart - at all.


  1. I don't know about you Mary, but I'm always trying to bargain with the Lord. "Send me suffering," I tell Him, "only, please don't send me a headache."
    And because He has such a sense of humor, when it comes to physical pain, headaches are practically ALL He sends me. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so perhaps He intends to continue to send us these headaches until we find a better way to deal with them.

    I hope you feel better soon. It's amazing how dim our perspective can become when we're trying to see our way through a migraine.

  2. Mary-C, I've got a different take on suffering than yours. I do not think Christ wants us to suffer. Christ fed the multitudes, made the blind see, made the lame walk, cured the sick. He was, among other things of course, a doctor and a nurse, like yourself. He went to efforts not to have people suffer. Two of his sacremental acts - babtism and communion - are acts of cleansing and nourishment. In my humble opinion He wants us to nourish each other, to nurse each other, to relieve suffering whenever possible. Of course when suffering comes to us, we must bear it and struggle with it, but that doesn't mean it's a joy. I do not think Christ felt joy on His passion route. I don't think He wants us to feel joy in our sufferring.

    I don't know if that's the Catholic position, but that's how I see it.

    As to your pain, you do so much running. Could there be a relationship? You might want to rethink it. I used to run, but I never went more than four miles. Anything more used to make my joints ache. Also your headaches might be related to the running. It's not uncommon for long distance runners to suffer from headaches. It could be dehydration. Just some thoughts.

  3. Try to figure out what is causing the headaches but while you're doing that learn to manage them because if they don't stop and you have to live with the pain it'll take a focused effort on your part to not let them cripple you.

    Learn to trick your self. Look for the personality traits of the different headaches (demons?)that will take up residence in your head and attack them accordingly. Not all will be the same and they will require different approaches.

    And if they get really, really bad, don't let them take you because that's their intent. If they do take you lock onto something in the real world and don't let it go. You'll need it like a life rope to pull yourself back out.

    The only thing I can equate this to is narcotic hallucination, while being run over by a truck, repeatedly. If you lose your hold on reality major headaches can sweep you away and believe me, you don't want this to happen. It can mean days of total disconnect from the world, which you may only glimpse momentarily through swirling, vivid sheets of pain that blind you like a thunderstorm at midnight.

    Be careful with pain pills. They tend to cause rebound; not always but sometimes. Rebound headaches can be worse than the first time around.

    If you find something that seems to work learn the signs of an approaching headache and start taking the meds early and often. You'll have to figure out what works for you. I take 16-20 Excedrine Migraine pills a day, everyday, and have for years and years. Before they came out it was something else. They never get rid of the headache, nothing has for 35 years, but they keep it to a dull roar, and for that I'm thankful. Eventually taking these pills will kill me but at least I can function while I'm here.

    All of this sounds crazy, doesn't it? I'm not alone in my understanding of headaches. I've talked to enough headache victims and doctors over the years to know that what I'm saying is not unusual. And I'm only telling you all this because you need to understand what may be coming if you truly are entering into our world so that you can get ready for it.

    There is no cure, there is no normal. Everyone that has headaches has their own particular oddities and symptoms so the medical approach is more experimental than anything else. It gets damned frustrating hearing the same thing from different doctors year after year. And most think you're crazy anyway as does just about everybody else.

    And do offer it up. There has to be a reason for the suffering because if there isn't it WOULD be unbearable.

    We all have our crosses to bear. I pray that this isn't yours but if it is accept it, deal with it and keep smiling. Somebody always has it worse.

  4. Thanks everyone.

    Amazingly enough, the headache went away while I was at Biblical School. Maybe the Gospel of St. John is a miracle cure for headaches!

    I have had migraines since I was 30. They seem to have a seasonal component. This time of the year is the worst. I take Maxalt, it gets rid of them, but it causes me to loose a day which I don't like. If I don't take it, I will normally have the headache for three days.

    Sorry to be so boringly self-centered, but there is nothing like a headache to do that to you.

  5. Oh, and I started a yoga class last week, and a zumba class. And I had the baby all day yesterday. I am certain this is what caused the backache. It is actually fine now.

    Thanks for caring. I promise my next post will not be so self-absorbed.

  6. I can attest to the Zumba=backache thing! I am a beginner at it, and moving my midsection in ways it isn't used to def. gets my back a little flared up. You however are in better shape than I! But maybe it is caused by the unfamiliar movements? God Bless you!

  7. I think that what the Church means is that because Christ suffered He "sanctified" suffering making it possible to use our sufferings as a tool for holiness. I've always used a practical approach to this by trying to relieve what can be relieved and offer up whatever is left over :) Like you, I had back trouble and a headache today so I took ibuprofen and offered up the rest. As for joy, I don't think there's joy in the pain itself but rather in the knowledge that you are using it for good.
    I hope you feel better soon!

  8. I have to tell you, I got hit with a blinding headache out of nowhere today while I was in a "train the trainer" class. I broke out in a cold sweat and thought I was going to pass out. A fellow headache sufferer urged me to take one of her Imatrex tablets. I will never needlessly suffer through another headache like that again. Within 30 minutes, I didn't have a hint of a headache. The medicine didn't cause any drowsiness or other side effects, so I emailed my primary and asked her to write me a prescription. I'll have to find some other misery to offer up because I don't intend to suffer from another debilitating headache like taht again. It would not have looked good to go home sick only 4 weeks on the job, and there is no way I would have made it through the day in that shape.