jedusor: (neuron art)
[personal profile] jedusor
I learned when I was about fourteen that the baseline for acceptable nothing-to-worry-about pain was period cramps. I wasn't sure how much more than that real pain would be, but I knew it had to be above that level. I got sympathy for my period cramps, but no one was ever really concerned that anything was wrong, so I learned that at that level of pain I am supposed to pop some over-the-counter painkillers and suck it up.

This is why I blamed myself for missing a shift of work every month when I was seventeen due to period pain, because that was an amount of pain I was supposed to be able to deal with. This is why I never went to a doctor about the headaches I've been getting between one and five times a week for a decade, and was surprised when I mentioned them at an appointment for something unrelated and the doctor started asking a bunch of questions, because that level of pain was nothing compared to my baseline, so it shouldn't have been anything notable. This is why I got a kidney infection, because I didn't even think to go to the doctor until I could barely walk.

This is why it didn't occur to me that I might have broken my toe until a month later, when someone else suggested that pain should not last that long. Because the pain wasn't as bad as my period pain had been, and broken-bone pain is supposed to be bad.

This is why a few months ago a doctor asked me how on earth I had managed to function for that long in the amount of pain I must have been in. Because it wasn't that bad.

I wish being aware of this helped me fix it, but it doesn't really. It just means that now I'm more willing to consider the possibility of low levels of pain being a bad sign. But there's a lot of low-level pain that really isn't anything to worry about, and I don't seem to be getting any better at judging the difference.

I'm also not much better at talking about it. I'm thinking about this right now because last night I realized that I hadn't mentioned to Mike that I'd been hurting for a couple of days. I do usually mention my headaches to him, but I don't tend to talk about them a whole lot to other people unless they get really bad. It doesn't help, really, to talk about it. Other people can't feel my pain, so they can't tell me whether it's anything to worry about; and to be honest, I wouldn't trust them anyway.

Date: 2015-03-10 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I took a bad tumble in PE Gymbastics in the 7th grade and fell on my head/shoulder, and later that day the ER doc missdiagnosed me. Ten years later when a doctor was trying to daignose my headaches/migraines and desided to do a full workup on every bodypart, he took som XRays of my neck and shoulder, went super pale, and nearly rushed me into the OR because he was amaized I was functional and was sure my top vertabre was about to snap and paralize me. I honestly blinked at him and said, "Isn't this pain level normal? I thought everyone lived with it like that." The ER doctor at the time of the incident told me I wasn't badly injured, just a mussle pulled, so I just assumed any problems I had after that were my own weakness in judgement. By that point it was just one more pain grouping on top of everything else, so I didn't think it was my place to complain about it being odd, or unusual to other people.

Turns out, pain ISN'T normal. Weird.

As someone with cronic pain issues who can relate to yours, if you ever need to talk, or need a push to talk, I'm around. I've had the same headache every day for 19 years now, with migraines on top of that a few times a month. Arthritis since I was a teenager, too, and two difrent kinds of nerve damadge (hands and down one leg). And the above shoulder/neck injury and a few other odds and FUCK YOU BODY, THIS IS WHY I HATE YOU things.

And also, anyone who says period cramps are not enough to need comment needs to be stabbed repeatedly in every bodypart attached to them with a rusty corkscrew until they know better.

Date: 2015-03-10 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
See, and my immediate reaction to this comment is, "Oh god, no, I don't have chronic pain issues"... though I guess now that I think about it, multiple headaches a week probably do count as that. But I hadn't considered applying the label, because they're not that bad. And I don't have to deal with period pain anymore (or periods! Thank you Mirena!) but I guess that would have counted as chronic pain too, and I never thought of it that way.

I definitely don't have it as bad as you, for sure, but I am trying to accept that this doesn't mean my not-as-bad pain isn't worth acknowledging. I appreciate the offer to talk--and I hope you know you can always text me if you need an ear, too. ♥
Edited Date: 2015-03-10 07:42 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-03-10 07:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Without fail and across the world, the number one hardest thing for any chronic pain suffer to do is learn not compare one pain to another. To learn not to reason, "That one migraine was worse then this is, so this broken toe must not be too bad," or "That person hurts for longer then I do, so my pain must not be bad as theirs." It's a conditioning that seems to be universal. And it's especially bad amongst female pain sufferers. It's been studied before, and there a lot of reasons for it, but they all agree it's a real thing.

Pain is pain. And no one else's pain makes your pain less acute or less valid, and does not make it less worthy of comment, attention, or treatment. Ever. {{{hugs}}}

Date: 2015-03-10 08:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Most of my pain issues are with distinct incidents. The concept of "chronic pain" applying to me honestly hadn't crossed my mind until you just said it. I'm still not certain it actually does. But I think what you're saying pretty much applies regardless, especially with this history of fucked-up pain judgments.

Thank you, dear. You're wonderful.

Date: 2015-03-10 09:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As my pain issues have increased over the years, I've found some solace in a small group of trusted friends where we can let our hair down and really bitch about what we are going through. One of my main goals in creating this group was to avoid being perceived as a complainer, but chronic pain SUCKS and feeling like you aren't being heard or understood is the worst. I apologize if I minimized your period or headache pain as a teen... I couldn't feel what you were feeling and tried to give you access to the same techniques I used to cope.

I don't know if you've ever considered it, but once I got gluten out of my system and did what I could to lower the amount of foods associated with inflammation in my diet, my migraines decreased significantly (and the ones I do get are not as debilitating, for the most part). I don't know if it would have helped me in my 20s, but I'm throwing it out there in case you also inherited that sensitivity from me as well.

Date: 2015-03-10 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The problem wasn't you--I think I would have gotten the same message regardless from the way this whole culture minimizes menstrual pain. Anyway, I think it was already ingrained, because I wouldn't have seriously considered the idea of having endometriosis or anything else like that even if you'd suggested it (maybe you did, I don't remember), and in retrospect I think the pain was bad enough that it could have been something like that. I don't think period pain is supposed to be worse than a broken toe.

I'm glad you have a support system! I don't know if bitching about it more often would help, but I do have friends I know would be patient with me if I did. And I have considered the gluten thing, but honestly being vegan and gluten-free might actually be more of a pain than the headaches. I'll keep it in mind if things get worse, though.

Date: 2015-03-10 10:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, I thought about how hard it would be to go vegan AND gf, though if you were going to try it, you probably live in one of the best places to pull it off.

Love you, hope you find some answers. xoxo

Date: 2015-03-11 03:59 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
There are other things you can do about headaches, you know... It doesn't have to be a 'worrying' pain, but if you want to do something about it understanding the genesis might lead to a resolution that makes sense for you.

(Josh and I have both, at various times, suffered from severe and persistent headaches. We're sympathetic.)

Date: 2015-03-11 04:18 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
There are other things you can do about headaches, you know... It doesn't have to be a 'worrying' pain, but if you want to do something about it understanding the genesis might lead to a resolution that makes sense for you.

(Josh and I have both, at various times, suffered from severe and persistent headaches. We're sympathetic.)

Date: 2015-03-11 05:17 am (UTC)
ext_2248: (demolition)
From: [identity profile]
Yes. Period pains, for me, feel like being stabbed repeatedly in the gut. I'm very lucky. They only happen four or five times a cycle, for maybe 1 to 5 minutes. I stop everything, find a way to not be standing, and go 'ow ow ow fuck ow' until they go away enough that I can move enough to find pain meds.

Also sometimes, a few times a year, the same kind of pain happens across all of my muscles when I'm trying to go to sleep. This is mainly a problem because it's hugely exacerbated by any movement. Including, oh, of my diaphragm. To breathe. So I generally manage to induce an asthma attack too.

Which got me in trouble when I rated what turned out to be a 15mm kidney stone as a 'six' on the pain scale, because to me it /was/, and then spent an hour quietly going 'ow ow ow' at increasingly higher pitch in a hospital bed until t'boy got concerned, summoned a nurse, and got me meds. Because one mustn't complain. Other people have /broken bones/. (I've had a broken collar bone. I literally did not notice it hurting for two hours after it occurred.) And it's not like it's as bad as ovulating.

Date: 2015-03-11 12:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*nod*. Learning to calibrate "same old, nothing to worry about" versus "something exciting and new" is a fun game and one I have mostly dealt with by gritting my teeth and asking people a lot of questions every time something new happens (and about everything when I was first getting diagnoses).

Y'want recs for painkiller combos, I can do that.


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