Life lessons from an Unwanted Teacher

Lessons we need to learn are often taught by the most unwelcome of teachers. We have all been schooled in time management by Professor Procrastination, crushed by Coach Chaos, and a lot of us have  been instructed in the art of love and war by Dr. Divorce…

I had an incident last year and have been under the tutelage of chronic pain. She is the most miserable instructor I have ever encountered, she will not be getting positive feedback from me! But I am slowly learning lessons that are helping me in this situation and are applicable to other area’s of life.


Whatever your situation, do not let the pain, the injury, the illness define you. You are more than a symptom, more than a diagnosis. YOU ARE MORE! There are still many things for you to enjoy and take advantage of. Focus on those things.

Keep a pain log. Use this tool to effectively communicate with your doctor so you can graduate this class as soon as possible! But keep it simple, and short. Use adjectives to describe the pain type: burning, stinging, moves around, pressure, throbbing. This will help your doctor help you.

Do not focus on the log! What you focus on becomes your world. You do need to keep track of what is going on but keep it short and simple. A sample entry may look like this: “Sharp, throbbing pain in hip after PT, lasted all afternoon, used ice after PT with minimal relief.” That’s it! Don’t write a novel, jot a note and move on!


Take advantage of this time to do something most of us never really do, rest. Before I was wide open 23 hours a day. I loved every crazy minute of it. I did not ask for this “break” nor did I want it, but here it is, so I’m using this time to catch up on quiet activities: The stack of books on my bedside table, movies I never went to see… And much to my surprise, deep restful sleep is actually good for me! The world continues to spin on its axis without me running at top speed. And that is ok.


Distraction can be very effective therapy for pain. So what soothes you? What activity would you like to try? If you love to read and are a social person you could start a book club from your couch. If movies are your thing, put together a watch list and arrange for all your favorite movie snacks to be available. You could have a “junk food list” and “healthy snack list” and invite friends to join you. I have always wanted to paint magnificent watercolors. I am currently using watercolor pencils to create the most awful seascapes! It’s fun and it takes my mind off of negative things.


Music is a great distraction and way to relax, re-focus or get yourself moving. William Congreve wrote in his play, The Mourning Bride, “Music has charms to soothe the savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend the knotted oak.” When the pain makes me feel like a savage beast or knotted oak I lay down and listen to “WholeTones” by Michael Tyrell.

Music also has power to energize the body. Make a playlist that includes all the music that makes you feel like a million bucks! My energy playlist includes; “All Fired Up” by the incomparable Pat Benatar, “Keep the Faith” by Bon Jovi along with many others. “Defying Gravity” from Wicked inspires me to fly above whatever is trying to pull me down!


This may be the most important, yet hardest of all. I have always been a giver, not a receiver, but I know how much pleasure I get out of giving and doing for others.

Are you going to be selfish and deny that pleasure to others?

If you need help, take it. My daughter now pushes the grocery cart and loads and unloads everything for me with a smile on her face. It seems insignificant, but it’s a big deal right now. For both of us. If you can’t drive accept that ride! You can write thank you notes from your bed while eating your neighbor’s amazing peanut butter brownies!


Use these tips to move up your graduation day. Take the time to rest and so something new and you will triumph over this course! Then take what you have learned and help someone else who finds themselves in this class.



Alana is a nurse with 26 years of experience in caregiving. She is also a copywriter, copyeditor and creative writer who believes our words should always inspire, encourage and delight. Visit her online at

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. A positive approach toward pain. Christians seem to believe they should be exempt from pain and hardship, that God has “failed” them if these occur. This is an error. God does not deliberately inflict pain on those who love Him. But He does use pain to shape character — sometimes ours, other times that of those around us. Read the trials Paul endured. If we are to follow in Christ’s footsteps, we should remember that He carried a cross.

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