Pain is a funny thing.
I have seven chronic medical conditions that cause pain. One is said to be the most painful disorder known to modern medicine. The first of the seven started when I was just a kid – scoliosis. The last started just a couple weeks ago – insane muscle cramps. Whenever medical folk ask me where the pain is, I tell them the easier answer would be where the pain is not.
Every time something new hurts, though, it’s the worst pain ever. The muscle cramps had me screaming for the better part of six hours. On the upside, it was one of the fastest ER visits I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, it was also one of the “We can’t find anything wrong, here’s some drugs, go home” ER visits. I’ve had a lot of those.
Sewing last night and early this morning, I was working with a very stiff fabric. Bad idea, won’t ever buy that again. I wound up having to put a band-aid on my thumb I use to push the needle through. Not because it broke the skin; it didn’t. But because it eclipsed the pain in my mouth. Which is good and bad, I suppose. It’s bad that I was having more pain somewhere else. But it’s good that the new pain distracted from the slightly older pain.
Pain medication makes life much more frustrating.
I’m foggy-brained enough without the side effects of Norco. I’ll start to do something, and in the middle of it, forget what it was I was doing. I lose track in conversations. Half the time, I don’t know what day it is. I once famously asked Daddy for 10’s three turns in a row playing Go Fish with him, Little Man, and Lulu.
But this is a whole new level of fog. I spent five minutes trying to thread the wrong end of a needle. Where there’s no hole. At all. A couple hexies after that, I was confused because the end of the thread wasn’t showing up as I pulled the needle through the fabric. I completely missed that I hadn’t threaded the needle at all that time.
Pain management is a whole ‘nother ball game.
It’s a toss-up, then. Do I want to be physically miserable, i.e. in pain, or psychically miserable, i.e. brain fogged? I’ve tried for 20 years to find the balance between the two. Generally, I lean towards gently creating pain elsewhere, to distract from the existing pain. I don’t want to injure myself. This isn’t self-harm. It’s little things like digging a knuckle into a pressure point. Last night’s sewing.
Then there are days like this. Recovering from surgery, fighting a fever, and every pain condition flares up. I’ve seen people jokingly say “My everything hurts,” but for me, that’s the gods’ honest truth. Wait, I take that back. My left ankle feels ok right now.
However, above all the pain, I strive to avoid suffering. I have a quote on a post-it note stuck to my monitor that says, “Pain creates suffering only when you refuse to accept the pain.” I’ve long since accepted the pain. I haven’t given up on eliminating it by any means fair or foul. But it’s there. It’s part of me. It’s part of my authentic life.