Pain, no it is not a laugh fest topic really unless you are the one person in the world who HASN’T hit your little toe on something. Okay, then this is a topic I hope everyone can relate to. Yes, people with neurological and chronic conditions deal with pain a lot. But so do people with cancer, with back problems, with arthritis, with depression (yup, depression can really ache, right down to the bones), fallen arches, shin splints or at least one horrific accident story that you pull out to tell at parties to see the faces of people get squeamish.
It is odd how while we are so connected by pain, it can still be so individual and a simple question of “Where does it hurt?” followed by “And how exactly?” can leave me frustratingly searching for appropriate metaphors. “How does it hurt? Okay, imagine your spleen is on a road, and a drunk guy is driving a pavement masher, and he keeps backing over it every few seconds.”
Migraines. They suck. I have the secret solution to migraines and I’m not going to tell you. Know why? Because everyone else already has and like any person desperate in pain, if something could work, you would have already tried it. So not going to tell you to sit in darkness or pinch the bridge of your nose or masturbate (though found to minimize migraine pain in 30% of women) because you’ve tried it. Just like I know that Brewers Yeast or Green Tea isn’t going to make me able bodied again. My personal metaphor for a migraine (I’d be interested in yours): Someone using an ice cream scoop to try and remove part of my brain from behind my right eye…..a blunt ice cream scoop.
I know that pain is supposed to be part of the body's system of telling us that something is wrong. Fine. But why does it have to hang around like the college “friend” you actually disliked who ate all the food at parties and when everyone else was gone and you and significant other were thinking either snogging or sleeping would say, “Hey, who wants to order pizza!” I mean, okay, maybe I overdid it at boxing the other night, might have been a good time to send me a message then. What use it is at 4 a.m. two nights lights later to be in so much pain that with Linda just touching me causes me to scream? Who is that helping? Me? Linda? No. Though our “kinky sex” rep probably went up a few notches with our neighbors.
Seriously, who hasn’t had this experience: You fall, twist, rip, feel tearing somewhere. Get to doctors. Doctor says you have sprained, torn, whatever this part of you and it is going to HURT FOR A WHILE. Yeah, like that is a surprise. Actually, I have a bigger complaint, which is like the boxing issue, the whole, “No message at all to sudden or progressive incapacitation” pain. For instance at 19 I spent the day with friends doing all these water rides in California, you know those huge water slides which keep your hands occupied keeping parts of your bathing suit attached to you. And then there was inter-tube mazes and slides. I had all sorts of fun with friends. The next morning, I not only was in agony, so much of my back had locked up, I couldn’t stand up straight, I could just lean over staring at the floor...and feet. “Hello? Pain? Where was that head’s up?”
Pain is like, “Sorry, I was so amused seeing your body do the corkscrew slide knowing that would lock up at least three vertebrae, I must have forget to send you a memo.”
These days, with completely 'non-related to anything I might have done' pain, you know how now that I have a “condition”. A "condition" means I just get extreme pain for no apparent reason at all. And I learn about how it fatigues you, and leaves you in a brain fog so bad that telling time become challenging. Those times when you are trying to sleep or in so much pain you can’t concentrate on anything (not even US TV) and all you get are the waves of pain coming over you. One of the trips about having a “condition” which affects all the (normally) invisible bits of you is being in late night pain, accepting that you may NEVER sleep again, and that you likely will go insane (if you aren’t already) and the sad reality that there isn’t going to be a baby to show everyone at the end of this. Nor will you ever get one of those classes to teach you to “breath out the pain.”
It is odd sometimes how just that extra bit of pain one day is enough to have a mental temper tantrum which has mental stomping, meltdown and “It isn’t fair” and “I want some TLC…and a cookie….and ice cream!” I mean, I have been in muscle pain since thirteen, but once the back pain kicked in, it was, “Oh what, more?” and then I managed to adjust but sometimes something little like, athletes foot would turn me into the biggest pouter on the planet. Linda would be stuck with me staring out in space and throwing shoes on the floor for attention with the big lower lip saying, “Not fair….just not fair.” Hey, that’s pain for you.
Pain can regress us, distress us, drive us to distraction and is frustratingly individual. A friend can tell me they have a migraine or terrible cramps and I am like “I’m so sorry” but I don’t really FEEL the intensity they do. Odd that about pain, like a spy, it erases all but the vaguest memories. But when I have cramps or a migraine, AHHHHH, then I’M the one looking for some sympathy loving and I can tell that these people, these callous people don’t REALLY get it! (Forgetting that I was one of them but days/hours ago)
I do have to say that most people’s pain is far more terrifying than my own. I mean, the guy you know who says, “Oh yeah, my arm/shoulder/elbow goes out of joint all the time, sure there is a blinding flash of pain SNAPPING it back in, but you get used to it.” I have turned slightly green listening to this. Labour especially scares the crap out of me. I mean, all those films with women screaming their lungs out can’t REALLY count as a “miracle of birth.” They seem to scream for some reason (like intense pain), and having a few pregnant friends gets you the stories as women just walk up going, “First pregnancy dear? I could tell, oh, my first, he was 47 hours and I had bitten through my tongue at hour 22…still talk with a bit of a lisp.” Seriously, you want to hear HORRIFIC birthing stories, just hang out with a young pregnant girlfriend and these women with the most nightmarish stories will simply appear, “….they were putting blood in me, six pints I think it was, so much blood coming out the doctor slipped and fell two times….”
I have to say that as bad as it is now, thankfully even the worst memories of my own pain tend to fade pretty quickly. I’ll be tracing “KILL ME” in the foam, frothing out the side of my mouth at 3 a.m. and then 12 or 18 hours later be, “Uh, okay, I could go for pancakes.”
These last few days have been ones of pretty intense pain for me (and a few friends I know – I’m still thinking about you, so hope the tide turns soon). So I was, “What do I blog about when I have had a hard time focusing my eyes for a day and a bit?” My solution: “Why not write about pain, I think everyone knows what that is like.”
But I don’t want to just talk about my pain, come on, give me the gory stories, the pain of your life (no name of ex’s please). Tell me what coarse embrace you fear? The locking of your back? That clicking in your knee before things fall apart? Or just how gravity on this planet seems to be increasing, particularly on your muscles and joints? My nightcare worker has seen just about everything, so at 5:50 am on Thurs night/Friday morn she came in to find me not only locked in hands, elbows, shoulders, legs but also I was going exorcist girl on her, and virtually inverting my entire body. “What are you doing?” she asked after giving me muscle relaxants and pain killers.”
“Turning myself inside out.” I panted out.
“Why?” Did I mention nothing phases her.
“Ask my BODY, AHHHH, my kidney!” I hissed out. Like I somehow planned to be in such pain that I was going to try and pull an Alien ripping out my stomach right there.
She flipped me about and massaged my lower and upper kidney and worked down the muscles until I lay there looking more human and less like “Attack of the Crab Woman.” And even though I never thought it would happen, I finally slept.
See, that little story probably freaked you out while me, that was a couple nights ago and I survived so now I am like, “Hmmmmmm, that might have looked pretty cool, she should have taken a picture.” While your story about pulling out a two inch splinter with a pair of pliers through the pool of pus will have me gagging while I read between splayed fingers, turning away to say, “Oh God, unbelievable. I’m not sure if I am more disturbed how gross that was, how painful it was or how she continued working for another six hours.” Pain is a bitch, eh?
1 day ago