I’m sure I’ve mentioned in other posts how former Christian Scientists, such as myself, will often wait longer than we should to seek treatment for injuries and ailments. The reasons for us largely boil down to having had it drilled into us since childhood that disease and accidents are unreal according to God, so therefore, there really is nothing wrong. So, we go into a state of denial, and ignore or downplay the problem…until it doesn’t go away, but rather, usually gets worse. Then, we do something about it.
It isn’t just ex-Christian Scientists who do this. A friend of mine who was in the US Army for several years (who is also a former Christian Scientist) has said that there is a tendency among those in the military to also downplay injuries, and that culture, combined with her Christian Science upbringing exacerbated her tendencies to downplay injuries, which did not always bode well for her health. Athletes will also fall into this trap as well. Any of us who can remember the 1996 Summer Olympics will recall Kerri Strug who stuck a painful landing off the vault to help the USA gymnastics team win gold. She stuck that landing on a badly injured ankle. Currently, the issue of brain injury and concussions is a huge controversy in the NFL and NHL. A recent movie Concussion addresses this issue in the NFL.
You’re not weak if you seek treatment…
In some sectors of society, there definitely seems to be a tendency to downplay pain. You’re viewed as a ‘sissy’ if you say you’re hurting. This is wrong on so many levels, not just the obvious concerns about health. Constant pain causes mental-health issues as well. My own father waited far longer than he should have to have a severely arthritic hip replaced many years ago. The chronic pain made him almost unbearable to live with, and he developed a hair-trigger temper because of the constant pain he was in. Once he acquiesced and had the surgery, his irritableness virtually disappeared.
In my own recent experience, early last year, I began to experience pain in my elbow. At first, I was afraid it might be arthritis (there is a history of arthritis in my family). However, a co-worker who has a nursing background said my symptoms looked very much like tendonitis rather than arthritis. The pain would come and go, so I just ignored it (shades of my Christian Science conditioning). It didn’t get better. Ultimately, it got to the point where pain radiated throughout my arm, and a simple tap on my elbow elicited a painful response. I finally went to the physio, and a few simple tests confirmed lateral epicondylitis, better known as ‘tennis elbow’. Physio therapy three times per week, as well as home exercises, and regular treatments with ice pads, and I was cured.
So often, if we shed the false sense of machismo that seems to saturate our society, and this applies as much to women as it does to men, and just admit when we’re in pain and DO something about it, we’ll be so much better for it. There is nothing ‘weak’ or ‘sissy’ about admitting when we’re in pain, and when you ‘play through it’, you’re just being plain stupid. Is the gold medal worth potentially crippling yourself long-term or permanently? I don’t think so. Not that I don’t admire Kerri Strug for what she did in 1996, what she did for her team was nothing short of amazing. She did recover, but she could just as easily have caused herself permanent injury. Would the gold have been worth that? These days, with a different perspective on life, I wonder.