Gratitude for Pain: A Narrative in Caring for Those Suffering and Tasting of the Same
Ryan Nash, MD, FACP, FAAHPM, Hagop Mekhjian, MD, Chair in Medical Ethics and Professionalism; and Director, The Ohio State University Center for Bioethics
It has become a familiar mantra in contemporary medicine that the relief of suffering - and by extension pain – is the goal of medicine. Though this recasting of medicine is based upon philosophical presuppositions commonly shared in our modern society, it remains a changeable claim. Nonetheless, the modern movements in hospice care, palliative medicine, and chronic pain have furthered this message, if only in part. This presentation is presented by a physician engaged in these movements who persists in respectful skepticism toward to the means and ends of the movements. Further, the presenter through recent calamity experienced pain and the peculiarities of medicine as a patient. The experience of caring for many suffering and being one with at least significant pain sets the narrative. The dilemma in traditional Christianity of the role, purpose, and response to pain and suffering create the tension. The movement is informed by the fathers and mothers of the Church. Modest practical guidance will be offered on how to care for those in pain and how to respond to pain. Of particular focus will be the need for gratitude. Gratitude in the midst of pain and suffering falls short of the mark. Gratitude for the pain and suffering finds truer aim. Applying this hard truth in care of others presents potential conflict and challenge in care and not a little internal struggle.