a work in progress

pain dictionary

I will do absolutely anything to avoid saying the words “I’m in pain.” Does anyone else have this problem? The simplest explanation for this oddity is that it’s a clear admission of defeat, and I feel that being vague helps me hide what’s going on. But I believe this reason is over simplistic, and I’ve barely written anything so even if it’s true I’m going to keep going for the sake of my word count.

Below are the words / phrases I use to describe my level of pain which allow me to sidestep that dreaded phrase.

  1. I’m hurting. Pretty straight forward…couldn’t tell you why I find this easier to say. This phrase comes out when I’m in the presence of physicians more than anyone else. 
  2. I’m maxed out. I usually only use this one with peers. I feel like my grandmother just wouldn’t understand it. 
  3. My hips are done / wrecked. This gem usually comes out at the end of an event when I’m pretty sure I can’t walk another step.  
  4. I’m spent. See above.
  5. It’s been a tough / rough / hard day. This phrase is probably the easiest to say in front of mixed company. I can really detach myself from its implications and say it completely unemotionally. 
  6. I need to get out of here. This is my cry for help and is only heard when I am way over my limit (that’s another phrase, actually!) but have no plan for getting back home. 
  7. I’m over it. This has very little to do with any specific hip pain and more about when it’s that kind of hurt that is everywhere and has me completely exhausted (like when you can’t even turn on the TV when you get home and just want to collapse). 

I feel it’s my responsibility to come up with socially acceptable ways to indicate how I’m feeling. If I told the truth when people asked how I’m doing I’m confident I would be met with that blank I-have-no-idea-how-to-respond-to-that stare. You don’t have to be someone with chronic pain to know how that looks! Sure, lying would be easier, but considering that I’m a terrible liar it isn’t an option.

Deflecting is more my style, anyway; it’s so EASY! People seriously love talking about themselves. If they ask me that question I hate, “So, what have you been up to?” I find that all I have to do is say something along the lines of “You know, nothing too exciting…” and then quickly add “but I heard that you got a new job! Tell me about that!” and they’ve forgotten they ever asked me anything. It’s easy and probably accounts for the reason I follow 75% of the people I do on Instagram. If I follow them it makes it very easy to know the superficial things going on in their life. It’s brilliant if I do say so myself.

But back to codes, which is what I rely on when I’m not deflecting. I confess, some people are on to me. They’ve either heard my scripts too many times or see what is actually going on. Every once in a while those are the people who translate for me. Let’s take the other day…

I was talking to someone about prolotherapy. He had a single injection in both of his knees and it fixed everything (what a jerk). We were comparing notes about how we felt following our procedures. If I’m being honest, after I get through that first hour I really don’t have any issues. As the doctor said, “It’s going to make you slow, stiff, and sore for a few days, but I think that’s how you live so I don’t think it’s going to bother you.” And he was right.

So I’m talking to this guy and someone who knows me quite well is nearby. The knee guy is telling me about the soreness he had following his round of injections. He asked me how I felt and I said, “I really don’t notice a difference from how I always feel.” This is when the third party stepped in and met his confused reaction. “She’s saying she’s always in pain, and because the pain after prolotherapy wasn’t worse than that she didn’t really feel a difference.” The knee guy laughed awkwardly.

You know how that first time you have to tell someone something really lousy that happened to you it’s hard to get the words out without crying? Then the second time you say it it’s a bit easier, and by the third or fourth time you can share the news without even threatening to shed a tear? Well, in the past 11 years I’ve definitely learned to say those tough phrases that I hate admitting, even to myself, without getting the least bit upset…at least not outwardly. Still, I think that has a bad impact on my psyche to say the things that I fear the most. Not only that, I’m not sure anyone else needs to / has any interest in hearing them.

We all live by our little codes to get us through the day. They help us fool others, and fool ourselves a little bit. It’s really just better that way.

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