Pain Origins: Physical Pain

I grew up in the 80s-90s when ‘stranger danger’ was strong. I used to think the phrase came from The Cure’s Just Like Heaven, but later realized the phrase was ‘strange as angels,’ and not Robert Smith’s wonderful voice saying ‘stranger danger.’ Listen to it, it’s close.

I doubt many children were using Smith as a measure of warning, but instead were having their hands pulled from hot stoves and curious fingers away from outlets (I never stuck my finger in an outlet, but opted to put my Cabbage Patch Doll’s fingers there as a proxy…that backfired, literally) or being warned about paneled vans and candy. I was too, I suppose. But also, pain wasn’t something we were taught to be afraid of. You scrape your knee or fall off the bike, I was more afraid mom was going to grab the red spray from hell (Mercurochrome) than anything I inflicted on myself. It’s amazing how many times the presence of the bottle dried my tears! [Nevermind, Mom, I’m ok!]

It might have been the Mercurochome that gave pain a scale on what I would admit to or not. Only recently at Prompt Care when they asked me to scale my pain, did I notice the chart on the wall. I sat there staring at it curiously wondering if the nurse would think it weird if I snapped a photo with my phone.

This country kid is tempted to rewrite the pain chart to include things like: tangled in rusty barbed wire, grazed the electric fence, fell out of a tree (again), went into the blackberries without my bibs on. All sensations I can still remember quite well.

Even now as I type this, my middle finger glistens with liquid bandage from Sunday’s home maintenance tasks and tribulations. My future as a hand model long gone with all the scars and home-healed bones.  

What’s more, I can only describe pain from my own perspective. There is no way for me to understand someone else’s pain-to know what another’s experience has been. Like you, I can relate, but only so much. So if you feel this is written within a narrow frame, I agree. I would invite you to write or explore your own path.

The overall intent of this exploration, is to ask us all to think a little deeper about our pain experiences.

Thank you in advance for considering these ideas,