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What Kind Of Pain?

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Anyone who has been sick with a bad case of the flu(and we all have) and felt extreme nausea can understand that the awful nausea experienced is terrible suffering but we don't really equate it to pain; it's a different kind of suffering. Likewise, if one were suffocated or drowned, there would be terrible suffering but the word pain doesn't quite fit.


Consider that if one feels the type of pain that is most easily understood and identifiable, it could be felt and interpreted in different ways; as being sharp and stabbing or a dull ache or a gnawing cramp or a tight pinching. People might express it as a burning or stiffness.


What can be extremely difficult to deal with however is the type of distress and discomfort that pain killers do nothing for--because it's not plain pain.


For instance, if your glands aren't working properly or if your vascular system is distressed and you can't even tolerate a modest drop in temperature--there is perhaps little or nothing you can do to fix it. If you are struggling with your breathing and can't rest, no pain killer can help. If your central nervous system doesn't work like it should, you can't "mind over matter" it.


I think it is the most awful thing for one to be suffering in such a way that others can't identify with it. We live in a society where it is thought we have control over pain. Suffering? Take pain killers--strong if need be. But pain killers don't stop problems like GERD. They don't rebuild damaged tissue. They certainly don't ease the emotional pain of being disabled.


Some problems can be worked around. Strategies can be developed. Useful remedies can be employed. But often the suffering of a dysfunctioning system is too vague and complex. If only it were as simple as: Where does it hurt? And one could say well I've got a bad pain in my foot because I stubbed my toe. Well, that wouldn't be good, but at least the pain would be isolated. When the suffering involves the "whole" body, the dominoe effect that takes place creates a kind of chaos and a cycle is perpetuated.


I think that people suffering get to be pretty good at keeping things in and remaining stoic. They don't want to be thought of as whiners or complainers. They want to keep a positive frame of mind and that is obviously the right thing to do. But as a sufferer of chronic illness, I think we need more than that. We need every little bit of mental conditioning we can exercise to cope with what can't be relieved--and for that this forum is very good.


We can share, vent and understand--and say as is our common refrain--"I am not alone."





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Thanks for your post.....I have in fact been thinking about those very same issues lately. Pain is subjective...thats what they teach us in nursing school....It is whatever a person says it is.....yet what you said about the discomforts and annoyances that we go through every day can't always be described as "pain".

Sometimes I wonder what to say to someone when they ask me if I am in pain... I am in "psychic" pain ...the pain of not being quite normal or of having my life plans changed or of being out of comfort... I think we need a new kind of scale....what do you think?

Laurie Jill

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Wow.....to the "T". That just says it all. It really explaines our state, and why we, or at least I, rely on this forum to get by. It helps me keep my "normal face" on during the day with everyone else, where I dont want to complain and explain. Here I can just BE and be understood.....pain, painrelievers, and all!


Thanks for those words.

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