Pain has volume. I don’t mean pain measured on a scale of 1 to 10 for doctors who don’t really know what that means for you. My 10 have been pinched nerves, broken ankles and leg, surgery for endometriosis, and episodes of endometriosis. Relative to that, a lot of things are less painful, perhaps the 4 of someone else’s 7 or 2. Because of my “high tolerance” I may not get the morphine or hospital stay I need because I don’t hit the magic number for it.
I am not really digressing from pain having volume, because pain played a part in my pain’s ear drums bursting. As with listening to music, physical and emotional pain both have the power to be so loud for so long they affect your hearing it anymore. Pain is powerful.
Years of my parents telling me to be quiet and ignoring my illnesses turned the volume for pain down year by year. The traumas I felt by their and other’s hands without anyone caring to help also turned down the volume of how I feel pain today. Even I told myself as a child to keep quiet on the outside while I was sexually assaulted. Years of telling my pain it is too loud, taught my brain that whatever I feel really isn’t as loud, as critical as I think it is. I became deaf to pain. My eardrums burst.
For example, a little over a year ago, I stumbled against a curb, fell, and saw, on the way down, my leg and ankles turn at funny angles. I remember, as if through a haze, people gathering around, asking if I needed help getting up, because I just sat there not hearing the pain. I refused the ambulance the campus cops offered to get me. I really just wanted to sit there not knowing anything, shutting everything and everybody out. I couldn’t even try to understand the why and where of my state. My eardrums have burst. I was deaf to the full extent of my state as the police helped me, first, to their car and, then, to mine. I was deaf to it as I made an appointment at my family clinic and drove myself home.
I hurt and yet it didn’t seem so bad. I did not think it important enough for the ambulance and emergency room, others, who aren’t pain deaf, told me later certainly was. It certainly did not seem important enough to cancel, only to alter, the lunch plans I had with a friend. I just asked if she minded picking up lunch to have at my place, and she told me sometime later that it shocked her that I sat there so cheerfully chatting with her over lunch when I should have heard the screaming of my legs and of my situation.
I wish this was a blog about my pain’s ear drums being restored, but I am not there yet. I am not sure if I will ever be able to hear pain, including emotional, at a relatively normal level again. Time with my therapist will tell.
It is ironic that I always tell people to listen to pain, to not completely shut it off with pain meds, because pain tells us when we shouldn’t be doing something or are overdoing it. Pain serves a purpose, so listen. Don’t tell pain, physical or emotional, to be quiet too much or you might in time burst your own pain’s ear drums, turning down the volume for good.