Trees are AWESOME! So is PAIN!

Have you ever allowed someone else’s enthusiasm get you wrapped up and passionate about an otherwise “boring” topic?

No one does this better than Radiolab. They produce an excellent podcast which generally discusses science based topics, and occasional history or politics.

They often take otherwise banal topics and make them exciting. There is excellent sound  effects, stimulating music, and silent pauses for dramatic enhancement.

Radiolab’s most recent podcast episode, From Tree to Shining Tree, is another example of this. The producers found the right people to discuss some new advancements in our understanding about trees; their connectivity, symbiotic relationships with fungi, and more. They weave all of these into a fascinating story that excites and generates a entirely new appreciation for trees. Trees are AWESOME, and so is PAIN!

After listening to this episode, it got me thinking about my patient education as well as the education I received throughout all of my years in school. I learned the most when my professors and teachers were excited and passionate.  There was a draw that I felt, a magnetism. That led to a more convincing narrative being written out in my mind, and more of a desire to understand.

When it comes to pain, everyone is an expert. Our patients have had a lifetime of experience dealing with pain. They come to us in pain. They know pain…Or so they think.  They know what experience has taught them, and what experience lacks…modern medicine has filled in. Our patients know that pain means you should stop doing that thing, and what medicine tells them is: that thing is “damage to the tissues.”

If you walked into your local garden supply store and the employee there began talking to you about trees and how they are connected and more complicated than what we once assumed; you’d probably brush it off, buy your plant and get out of there…never thinking about that interaction again.

BUT, if you walked into your local garden supply store and the employee there started talking to you about trees and how connected they are, and how they are much, much more complicated than what we once assumed. That one tree may be connected to up to forty seven other trees through their root system. That they will send off their nutrients to other trees if they detect their own eminent death. That the only way they can perform this nutrient sharing is via the microscopic fungi (so small that up to 7 miles can be found in only a pinch of dirt) that create tubes to transport these nutrients back and forth. If that happened…well you might grab your plant and get out of there just the same.  And maybe later you might think, “Why’d that guy want to talk to me about trees so much?”

Fortunately…we as healthcare providers don’t have the same customer interaction dynamics as the garden expert at Lowes. We have a captive audience with a vested interest in listening to our fascination with trees...I mean pain. So next time you do your pain ed…do it with some enthusiasm. Maybe thats what it’ll take to trigger a shift in understanding and a change in pain.


PS. You should listen to that Radiolab episode.


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