The unexamined pain

So I’ve been disappeared for a long time, unable to write on my pain blog because of… pain. Funny that…

Long story I don’t want to get into, but it involves the torturous cessation of a medication I maybe should never have been on (but it was worth a shot), flare up of several old injuries/conditions (endometriosis is not my friend), some new therapy that seems to be useful (depression makes pain worse, and St. John’s Wort can be your friend), and my time having to be allotted carefully (finishing a long overdue project).

Ruminating on pain wasn’t the right thing to do at the time. Sometimes it’s best not to examine the difficulties too much.  (So long pain blog.) You have to throw all your effort into the most productive pot. (Hello publishing contract! First romance novel coming out in January!)

One of my health care professionals thought it was a bad idea to examine pain too closely, operating under the assumption that if you talk about pain all the time you’re going to feel more pain. Negativity breeds more negativity, etc. I don’t agree. This break wasn’t about needing a break from pain. Obviously not – there is no escape. Mostly the break was about time management. The more time I spend working on alleviating pain and conditions that cause pain, the less time I have to do other shit. It’s math, pure and simple.

I hope to get back to prodding and poking at this constant companion again. I really do think that paying attention to pain is the best way to live with it amicably.

Published in: on September 30, 2010 at 5:01 pm  Leave a Comment  


Some people call it bad luck. Some people call it karma. Some people call it weakness. Some people call it being born under a bad sign. Some people say it’s a result of a bad attitude/misspent youth/past life. Some people say it’s the result of giving up. Some people say it’s a curse. Heck, sometimes I say some of the things above.

But yeah, I do have a lot of physical and medical problems. Not nearly as many as some people I know. I’m glad all the above judgemental people don’t know them, because if they say all of the above about me, I hate to think of what they’d say about someone worse off.

There does seem to be a clustering effect. Probably because, as I wrote in The Mathematics of Pain, pain makes you more susceptible to pain, and other things. If one condition or ailment or disease or mechanical issue is causing you problems, then you’re less likely to be able to fight all the other ones off.

This is especially true of mechanical issues, by their very nature. (more…)

Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Laughing in the Face of Pain


We’ve all heard about people who “laugh in the face of pain”. They can undergo any trauma or torment without flinching. They withstand extreme hardship with a smile. They don’t complain. Never complain. Ever.

These people are admired. They are either seen as superheroes or saints.

The superheroes are physically tough, tougher than ordinary people. They can take anything. They simply don’t seem to feel pain. Stereotypically, they are male. They laugh with big, booming laughs, take a licking and keep on ticking.

The saints feel pain, but they don’t complain about it. They just lie there and take it. Saints often have fatal diseases, or have a lot of babies. Hence, they are often female. Not a word of complaint leaves their (often) pale lips. They suffer, and their suffering elevates them to beautiful, beatific sainthood.

Sometimes women are the tough ones. Tough old birds, most often. And men can suffer in silence as well. In fact, that expectation of suffering in silence can lead to complications, because these superheroic, flinchless wonders rarely seek treatment until it’s too late.

We don’t seem to question that these people exist. As a society, we seem to accept that there are some people who are simply immune to pain.

So why can’t this society accept that the opposite exists at the same time? If there are those who feel no pain, then there must be those who feel more than their fair share of pain.

If people are willing to accept people who feel less pain, why can’t they accept that some people are more susceptible to pain?

It makes sense that pain sensitivity exists along a continuum. So why are people unwilling to accept that while most people exist somewhere in the middle, there are indeed people who fall at both ends of that spectrum?

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 3:57 pm  Comments (2)  
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Of isms and igns and ints

This post is part of the Blogging Against Disablism Day

Isms and ists come from igns and ints.

Disablism, or antidisablism, or however you happen to label that particular ism and ists, is the result of the same things as all the other ists and isms – ignorance and intention. (more…)

Published in: on May 1, 2010 at 4:56 pm  Comments (12)  

Pain relief – local and effective for muscle aches

ICE!!!! You know, those gels and creams with the menthol. Ice heat. Tiger balm. Soooo good on your back.

I asked my massage therapist about it, and then did a little research. Fascinating stuff, because the action of these gels is physical, and localized (avoiding the fuzziness and other side effects of pain meds.) Here’s how they work: (more…)

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 10:33 pm  Comments (4)  

Don’t Talk About That!

Here’s the biggest problem when you have chronic pain and you go to family dinners.

No. One. Wants. To Hear. About. It.

That’s not a problem if you have loads of other things to talk about – if you’ve seen lots of good movies, or you’ve read lots of great books, or you have a enthralling job, or you know oodles and oodles of fascinating people.

The thing is, if you’ve got bad chronic pain, you can’t really go out to see a lot of movies. (more…)

Published in: on April 5, 2010 at 2:35 am  Comments (7)  
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The Math of Pain

I just heard a bit on Quirks and Quarks about pain, and how if you, say, catch a Frisbee when your hands are cold it hurts more. The upshot was that if your hands are already somewhat in pain because of the cold, then the impact of the Frisbee will cause even more pain.

Pain plus more pain equals MORE pain.

So if you’re already sore from an injury, a stimulus that might not ordinarily seem painful to you will hurt. A lot. Like someone touching you in a gentle, loving fashion when you have a recent, raging sunburn. You ordinarily enjoy being stroked and coddled, but that sunburn turns the pleasant into something unbearably unpleasant.

And if you have chronic pain, (more…)

Published in: on April 3, 2010 at 5:19 pm  Comments (1)  
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What is pain?

So what the heck is “pain” anyway?

The International Association for the Study of Pain says that pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, as described in terms of such damage.”

This is a decent if nonspecific definition.  I have a few quibbles.  (more…)

Published in: on April 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pain is a tricky subject

Pain is a tricky subject.

Pain does not stand alone. It does not exist unless there is someone to feel it. It is not noticeable unless the person who feels it indicates it’s there.

Pain cannot be measured objectively. Its effects can sometimes be measured in muscle contraction or neural activity or temperature or swelling, but the degree to which those things can be determined does not necessarily correspond to the amount of pain that is felt. It’s not the same for everyone. (more…)

Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 2:53 am  Leave a Comment