I used to think it was something of which I should be proud: high pain tolerance. “You have such high pain tolerance!” “That doesn’t hurt? WOW!” People were impressed, and I liked feeling impressive. I leaned into it. I let people give me Indian burns at recess for a quarter on the promise that I wouldn’t even flinch, no matter how strong they thought they were.

But the thing is, it does hurt. It always hurts. You just have a higher tolerance. Without fail, those other people that I bring it up with have some story, usually several, or a lifetime of stories in which they were forced to deal with their pain for some reason or another. They had to learn to live with it.

With pain.

Literally the thing our bodies are designed to avoid, are trying at every opportunity to avoid (with notable exceptions, call down masochists, I love you). Chronic pain is something that you have to learn to live with. There are things that help, but nothing eliminates some pains.

Some pains are just there.

When I started with my singing group, my darling friends would sweetly ask about my feet, how I was doing with all the walking and standing. Horrified, I had to quickly explain that we don’t talk about my feet because then it sinks in, and I have to go sit down forever. Oh, but that doesn’t actually help, by the way, because my feet still hurt, but the pressure is removed. So it’s lesser, but always there. And sitting too much makes my hips and back and shoulders and neck act up so sometimes walking is preferable. My podiatrist at the time suggested a thousand different vitamins to repair some of the damage and explained the importance of stretching. I’ve kind of stuck with the stretching to a degree, but I gave up on the vitamins a while ago. I figure I’ll just deal with it.

It’s just pain.

How many of you are nodding along? Shrugging ruefully?

How many of you are rolling your eyes because it probably just isn’t as bad as we’re making it out to be? Mm-hm. It’s okay, we’re used to it.

This isn’t for pity or a call to arms (everyone meet in six weeks after we rest up and it can’t be too far for anyone because travel is hard some days, and it could get called off last-minute because if I just wake up with a bad pain day all I can do is huddle under my heating or weighted blanket or both or… mm-hm). 

I guess I’ve seen people learning about correct compliments to pay to people – always compliment something they have a decision in like hair or makeup or nail color or shoes, but never something they can’t change like teeth, or butts, or breasts. Or pain tolerance. Uh-huh. See what I did there?

Do you have any idea how useful those charts are that break down the 0 – 10 numbering system that doctors use to measure your pain level? Holy crap, they’re so good. Seriously, look them up because they’re so useful. I can be at a seven or eight and literally hide it from people if I want to. 

I have to say ‘want’ to because really, what situation calls for me needing to hide my pain these days? Yikes. Run away from that. Oh yeah, I can’t run either because when I push off, my ankles dislocate oops. Laugh or cry kiddies. You find real quick that there’s a lot of laughter in the chronic pain group because it is exhausting to cry that much and people get really uncomfortable around you and at least with laughter you might manage to trick your brain to forget for a second.

It’s all a game.

Do you feel like you’re winning?

Tired of hearing about it, yet? Yeah, me, too. But my brain talks about it ALL THE TIME. Find some new topic, damn!

Let’s go cuddle up on the couch and put on a movie and pass out halfway through. -gentle high five-

March 06, 2021

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