Comment of the Day: What a Pain

Today we heard the story of a woman who shot herself to get treatment for pain. This prompted many commenters to wonder about her motives. One commenter got to the sad heart of the matter.

From franzen:

Pain makes people crazy. My father had a disease not entirely dissimilar to MS, and in the years in which he saw specialist after specialist in an attempt to get a diagnosis, treatment, or even palliative care, he was a nightmare. (Fond memories of the day daddy told me he was contemplating family annihilation and jetting off to Fiji.) What stands out most, in retrospect, is how crippled he was by his total inability to live his life, let alone enjoy it; when he lost the ability to walk for a time and went on disability from work, there were fears he would commit suicide, and certainly he admitted contemplating it. I was an adolescent during all of this, and I watched my father turn from a gregarious 'Mr Strongman' into a sad, grimacing man, who was unable to ever really rest from the godawful pain his body was inflicting on him. I'm fairly certain that, at one point, he began stealing my anti-anxiety medication just in the hope of forgetting, however briefly, how much pain he was in. In the last months of his life, he found some relief in treatment, which, unfortunately, is the probable cause of his death, but that's neither here nor there.

Point being: I've never been in this woman's situation; I don't know what I would do. But having seen the way chronic pain can erode a personality, I can't say I find her desperation incomprehensible. And I believe her when she says she isn't suicidal — it's the difference between I can't go on and I can't go on like this. The fact that society has given her no options is just leaving me speechless.

Seriously, what would you do? The cure is out of reach, the ER says you're not an acute case so they won't treat you or give you more than a cursory once-over, medical loans are out due to the fact that you have no way to prove you can repay them, you're losing out on work opportunities due to your disability, and every day you're losing some part of your life to this limitation. Firing that bullet into her injury was probably the most psychologically healthy move she could make. She's not insane, crazy, or looking for a free ride; she's desperate but entirely logical. And that's probably the saddest part.