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.
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