Pain. We all feel it. The only difference is how much we feel. That’s why doctors invented the pain scale. It’s a way to measure pain when patients can’t describe it. A ten is the absolute worst pain you’ve ever felt. On the opposite end of the scale a one indicates hardly any pain at all.
Most of the time the pain scale is effective; doctors can ascertain pain levels and treat the patient accordingly. Sometimes though, the pain scale lies. What gets logged as a four is actually an eight. Why does that happen? Patients are stubborn.
I am one of those stubborn patients. I’m not sure if I always have been. I don’t remember how I handled childhood injuries, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I had a high pain tolerance. Actually, I don’t know if I’d call it high pain tolerance. I think I’d just call it lack of willingness to admit defeat.
I get things called bowel obstructions a lot. Without going into too much detail they’re a complication from a surgery I had when I was very young. They’re like constipation but worse. The first time it happened I’m pretty sure I was around eight years old. I was screaming bloody murder and begging for any pain killers I could get. The years went on and they kept happening. It got to the point where most of the ER staff knew me on site. They happened so often that I could tell how bad the obstruction was and what treatment the ER was going to have to administer before we even got to the hospital. I wouldn’t bother screaming for pain meds anymore either.
I went through a period of about a year where I was obstruction free, but as bad things always do, they came back. It was near the end of July, the night before camp. I started feeling the pain late in the afternoon. Being me, I ignored it. I knew what was coming, but pushed it to the back of my mind and went to take a shower. By the time my mom helped me out of the shower I was in a lot of pain. My back was in full spasm from all the cramping and I couldn’t really focus on anything. It was only at this point that I started to actually show I was in pain. I spent a good majority of the rest of that night hunched over in my chair trying to relieve the pain by simultaneously putting pressure on my stomach and stretching out my back. It worked…sort of. The pain eventually got bad enough that I vomited. Vomiting apparently helped because I was relatively okay the rest of the night I went to bed and woke up a little sore, but more or less fine the next day. I ate a pear for breakfast before mom and I headed up to camp.
About half an hour into the trip the pain started ramping up again. I ignored it, telling myself I would be fine once the pear digested. I was right for a few hours. By lunch I was in quite a bit of pain. I ate half a tuna sandwich anyway. Bad idea. We got back to the cabin and I resorted to my routine of hunching over in my chair. When that failed I laid down. Since it was rest period anyway no one thought anything of it. After an hour or so I started feeling nauseous and asked for a basin just in case. I mentioned my stomach felt sick, but didn’t tell them anything else.
I toughed it through the rest of the afternoon’s activities, but by supper I felt terrible. Of course no one knew this until I vomited. By that point there was no more hiding it. Everyone knew I was sick. I still didn’t want to leave camp though. We did what we could to treat it, I babied my stomach for the next couple days, and everything turned out fine.
The above story is a long one, but a necessary one. That’s pretty much how I handle any pain. Unless it’s really bad nobody knows about it and I don’t do anything about it. I just sort of wait it out.
I think some of my stubbornness in regards to pain is just a result of having CP. Something pretty much always hurts. My hips, my back, my legs, no body part is off limits. The only pain that freaks me out now is pain I’m not familiar with. Some might call that strength. I call it normal.
I originally didn’t want to write this piece, but I realized that if someone else wrote it I would want to read it. I would want to know that someone else out there handled things the same way I did. I hope this piece does that for you. I hope it lets you guys know that you are not alone and that there’s someone else out there who knows what it feels like. I’m just a message away if any of you need to chat.
What are your experiences with pain? Or if you are a parent, how do you deal with your child being in pain? Leave your comments below! If you enjoyed the post please consider sharing it on your favourite social media platform as it helps us out. Thank you!