My little dauschund had surgery a week and a half ago. He had a scary looking growth on his front leg that was removed.
At first, he did okay. I think he was just so glad to be home he felt happy and content to rest.
But then the healing of the scar began.
At that point, he noticed he was suffering.
I think that is how it is sometimes when we go through a trauma. We endure the hard part because we have to. We laser our focus so much on survival we don’t feel all of the pain.
When the pain really hits us is when we are in a safer place and start the process of healing.
I can’t tell you exactly what was going on with my dog, because he is well, a dog.
But I can tell you he was miserable.
He would bite and lick at his stitches. After I put the “cone” on his head, he discovered he could scratch the stitches on his front leg with his back leg. He was suffering, and in his suffering, he was making himself worse and worse.
As frustrating as it was to watch my dog hurting himself, I felt more compassion for the little fella than anger.
So I picked up my dog and held him in my lap.
Now my little dog is a big cuddler. He loves to snuggle. He particularly loves to stick his head in the crook of my neck and nuzzle me. When he does this I usually tuck my head down and nuzzle him back.
When I picked up my cone ensconced dog that day and held him in my lap, he did something that about broke my heart. He tried to stick his head into my neck but was defeated again and again by the cone.
Now the result of these efforts is that I was whacked in the head with the cone of shame a few times. But still, my heart broke for my pup.
So, I looked my dog in the eyes and stuck my head down in the cone of shame with him.
And when I put my head within his reach he immediately tucked his head in my neck. And I tucked my head to squeeze him.
And my dog sighed and relaxed into my arms.
Because when someone is sick or suffering, not only do they deal with their pain, but they also deal with the isolation it often brings.
I could not take all the pain away for my dog, but I could enter into the cone of his suffering with him so he would not feel alone.
And that afternoon in the midst of his pain and suffering, the comfort of the presence of someone who loved him was enough.
For you science nerds like me that want to read about actual research on how the presence of a loved one actually decreases our sensation of pain, click here.