It is rare that a musician can match, lyric for lyric, music note for music note the magic of improvisation. Van Morrison in Astral Weeks does just that, and more.
Music can be magic - especially when it comes from Mr. Morrison, a real favorite of mine, but what is not magic is pain, and how we think it can magically disappear.
Pain can be a good thing. Yes, it can, and this is coming from a guy who most likely has experienced more pain than anyone reading this article.
Life is not a perfect marriage of music and lyrics, which I quickly learned when I was in the hospital as I experienced pain at levels that I did not think could humanly exist.
I knew I was really sick when I overheard the doctors recite what pain meds I was receiving. These were Elvis drugs! This comes from after reading a book a number of years ago about Elvis Presley and in it was listed all the drugs found in his system when he died. Drugs I had never heard of, till now. Don’t get me wrong as I am a big Elvis fan and, in fact used to impersonate Elvis so many times my legs fell off. Yes, that’s a joke.
Out of the hospital, my out-patient therapy included hand therapy with the goal of getting my hands loose enough to undergo tendon transplants with the ultimate goal of getting them to work a little bit. In order to do this I had to have my remaining fingers placed in a fist for 8-10 hours each day, every day. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. My remaining fingers are rigid, stiff just like your forearm. Is taking your fingers and bending them all backwards in an opposite fist and wrapping an ace bandage around them for eight hours a day painful? You bet.
There is usefulness in taking pain medication, but certainly not for recreational purposes. What may happen is that a patient starts a routine that includes taking pain medications at a certain time and it becomes the ‘norm’, making them more and more dependant on them. Again, for the record I am not a counselor or expert, rather I approach this as a person who at one time had to take them in a controlled environment and know the good and bad aspects.
There was no getting around taking pain medications for this, and I did not like it. One reason is that pain medication masks pain, something I needed to be aware of regarding my legs. Trust me folks, walking on the bottom of your knees every day is not the easiest thing in the world to do. It is vital for me to know what shape my legs are in and to know not only what I can do, but what I can’t do. Pain meds can mask this and it can only make a bad situation worse. There is a load and balance formula here, meaning there is a risk/reward for each case.
There was also a time when I had had enough. My hands were not responding, the pain was unbearable, my fate had been decided and it was time to begin to lead my life again. I stopped.
We live in this instant society; instant coffee, take-out, social networking at a click of a phone text. Life does not always work like this as there is no ‘Pocketful of Rainbows’ at the end of each day. Don’t get me wrong as new and advanced technology, including high-end medications kept me alive and now technology continues to keep me upright and moving. But there are no shortcuts. There is no lost innocence.
Last year saw many robberies and worse, such as the terrible execution-style pharmacy murders on Long Island for pain meds. It is giving the term ‘pain killers’ a whole new meaning and by no means is this intended to be funny. In fact the exact opposite is taking place as the abuse of prescription drugs is really spinning out of control. For those who really do need pain medications the fact that the government may now start to regulate more may make it much more difficult for people with real pain to access these medications that allow them to lead lives somewhat comfortably. Yet, the abuse of prescription drugs is so far reaching it cannot be neglected.
There is an earthly significance, a sense of accountability here that perhaps only the person using these medicines can truly answer. There are more and more Government-issued prescription drug monitoring programs current but regardless of any governing monitoring ruling laws or agencies it is important that everyone has a core support team around them providing insight on specific accountability and decision making. This may not be easy but it is important to set a fundamental approach on certain areas of your life.
Each side has an important voice to be heard. It is important that your voice be heard when ever policy is being created so you are properly represented.
Unlike Van Morrison’s ‘Astral Weeks’, pain meds can not be a free-form of expression, nor can it ever be brandished in that mentality. Rather it's important to implement a sensible ‘pain policy’ within your core ‘team’ so neither your real pain or your treatment of your real pain goes unchecked.