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Is There Pain?

Picture of mom and daughter

by Becky Gibson

I held back her hair as the doctor was suctioning behind her ear, asking over and over again, "Are you in pain? Does it hurt?" I watched her face turn red before she finally admitted it hurt.  

Less than a week later, she was having surgery on her inner ear. They suctioned fat from her abdomen to fill the cavity. The only thing she asked, "Will my throat hurt?"

What surgery is this anyway? I've lost track. Is it 28 or 29? I find myself already going into cocoon mode. She is safe in the hospital. I'm here with her. Can we stay here? Can I rest?

I'm sure I'm not the only parent who wonders how easily our children are managing pain without medication. Pain that would cause an adult to cry. Pain... do they feel it?  

I was relieved when she asked for pain medicine the first two days after surgery. She made a point to tell me her throat didn't hurt. (I'm sure glad I mentioned to the anesthesiologist she was worried about having a sore throat.)  But then she stopped asking. I don't know how many stitches she had behind her ear, but the entire side of her face was swollen. She also had stitches in her abdomen. How could she not be in pain?

I asked her again, "Are you in pain?" She said, "No!"  I repeated my question and said she looked like she was in pain. The response was different this time. "Not on the outside." I asked if she had pain on the inside. "Just a little."

As parents, we don't want our children to suffer or feel pain. Is there pain? Maybe there is but it has a different name, or maybe we need to ask the question a different way. Is there pain? Maybe...or...maybe not.

I don't think they will ever tell...