One thing chronic pain does is it teaches you to ignore pain. If I didn’t ignore pain, I’d have long ago stopped eating, sleeping, showering, dressing, laughing, having fun, having sex, walking, writing, and many other things. Instead, I learned to ignore most of the pain and I continued on with my life.
I’m not going to pretend that I don’t feel the pain. But let’s be honest, if you have chronic pain, do you really notice the minor pain? When it’s a 2 on the pain scale, are you even aware of it?
The other day I stepped on something sharp. I let out a small yelp, then checked my foot. I didn’t see anything much, so I continued with what I was doing – getting water for the guests in my living room. A while later, I was sitting on the couch with my feet pulled up next to me (my physical therapist wouldn’t like this, but I do find it comfy) and I happened to see something out of the corner of my eye. I looked again. Half of the bottom of my foot was covered in blood.
Of course, I did what any rational chronically ill person would do: I checked to make sure the blood hadn’t gotten on my dress. Priorities, people. Then I check the couch. When I was sure there was no blood on either, I hobbled to the bathroom. Then I hobbled back to the hallways for supplies, then back to the bathroom. I cleaned up the blood and covered the wound. Easy.
Then I came back and looked around. Everyplace I had walked when I was getting water had little bloody spots on the floor. Oops. I got a damp paper towel. I realized I couldn’t bend over, so I got down on my hands and knees. It wasn’t ideal, but I managed. To mean, this was the worst part.
My friend was trying to figure this out. She asked how it was possible to have that much blood and not feel it. Didn’t it hurt? I tried to explain that after more than 20 years of pain, I just stopped paying attention to pain. It’s not that it didn’t hurt, it’s that I didn’t care. I ignored it.
I know this is hard for someone without pain to understand. For me, it’s just how things work. If the pain is small enough that I can ignore it, then I do. That makes sense, right? Well, ok, maybe in this case I should have paid attention.
I won’t pretend I’ll always pay attention to injury-induced pain, but I’ll make an effort to at least make sure I’m not bleeding. I guess that’s a start. Because for most people, pain is our body’s way of telling us there’s a problem. I guess even for us folks with chronic pain, that’s occasionally the case too.
(Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I saw the doctor and there’s no infection. Thank goodness! Somehow I don’t think antibiotics would help my overall health situation right now. And the hole in my heel is closing up nicely.)