About a week ago I came across a post on tumblr where a martial arts instructor said “Don’t you know that women are made of pain?”
With women typically experiencing chronic pain more intensely and more often, the instructor’s words aren’t particularly off-base. Throw in childbirth and his observations are downright astute.
For me, the words are just plain fitting.
Although everyone experiences pain in some way in their lives (be it physical, emotional or otherwise) some seem to experience it more than others and respond to it in different ways.
I think back to when I was a kid and what it meant: unless I was quite ill, for me pain was more or less a rarity, though I did my share (or maybe more than my fair share) of falling off things and running into others.
In some ways I actually enjoyed pain, to a certain extent. I associate muscle soreness with a kind of pain, albeit an extremely mild one. In order to build muscle, microscopic muscle tears need to occur, which stimulate the muscle cells to grow bigger and in turn muscle develops. This kind of pain is good.
The pain I have had (and continue to annoyingly have) due to sports injuries has not been good. Although frustrating, on a scale of one to ten this pain is not even that bad. (But, ankle, please heal, okay??!).
In contrast, the six major surgeries I have had can be considered painful – though frankly I don’t remember the pain from the first three and the fourth was mostly discomfort more than pain. I remember the last two though, and they weren’t fun. That bring said, the pain from surgery was temporary, lasting a few days to a week and then decreasing thereafter. Not pleasant, but needed to improve my quality of life.
But all of those are different from living in chronic pain.
Chronic pain is awful, even if it’s not particularly “bad”.
In the last year, I don’t remember a day where I was not in pain. Sometimes it’s been mildly annoying, and others so bad I want to vomit or cry (Or vomit and then cry. Or cry because I want to vomit.).
The pain makes me uncomfortable when sitting and lying down. It makes he tired. It makes me irritable. It makes it hard to focus. It makes me frustrated. And it makes me cry because all of those things suck.
Aside from (more) surgery and (more) physical therapy my only options for relief are prescription drugs (which also suck).
It’s not a life I would want for anyone else. It’s also not the life I want for me. It makes me scared for my future.
I don’t know what it means for me in finishing this degree. Initially, when I started my program I wanted to be done by the end of my fifth year. I think if I can finish in less than six it will be a tremendous accomplishment.
Cross all your appendages for me.