Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"My Eyebrows Hurt"

Sorry to start off with a bad joke here, but back in elementary or middle school some inquiring soul would ask, "does your face hurt?" If you were dim enough to answer at all (presumably in the negative), then the retort would be, "well it's killing me!": Laughs would ensue (with the laughter's being directed "at you", not "with you").

Today's first patient (who is undergoing a gentle narcotic tapering / detoxification process administered through my practice), stated, "my eyebrows hurt". He had been complaining of mild cold-symptoms, and I guess his audience (his wife and I) knew what he meant, some forehead pressure from sinus congestion. But shortly after he said this, we all started to smile, particularly after I mentioned that I had never heard, in 25 years of listening to pain-complaints, the particular phrase "my eyebrows hurt".

Earlier, his wife had been asking about his starting counseling in hopes of divining the reason for his previous narcotic usage. He has not been working although they have a three-year-old child. I mentioned one of my little homilies that "the best counseling (or group therapy) is a job", and recommended his pursuing employment over counseling, directing his efforts outward rather than inward -- with the goal of production, rather than introspection.

With a job, external challenges have to be met, internal issues have to be set aside. There is friendly chumming and social churning: getting out, getting lunch, keeping busy. The result is a lack of time to self-obsess: my recommendation in cases absent severe mental disturbance. Not returning to narcotics involves, IMHO, a step towards maturity: (in his case) knowledge of his place as father, husband, provider; evolving from current dependence.

Surely, then, there would be less time in which to worry over eyebrows' hurting. Before people excoriate for minimizing the medical problem at hand: testing and examination were done and pointed towards his having a cold, simply. Whether he can stay away from narcotics in the future is an open question, but success is anticipated, if his eyebrows stop hurting. Moreover, if his mind and body are busier focusing on the world just beyond those eyebrows