Not the post I intended

I had a post ready to go for today. It was about the time I got thrown off an airplane because of my skin.

And then two things happened.

Thing the first: somebody linked to this.

Thing the second: I didn’t get to bellydance class tonight. Instead, I was curled up on the bed, unable to stand, let alone execute a 3/4 shimmy with snake arms. I’m still not moving around very much. In an attempt to distract myself, I went online and happened to read that article.

And it occurs to me that the author missed the point entirely. Which is entirely expected, given that he is not a patient. Was it a major accomplishment that I managed to finally get off the bed and walk to my computer desk? Yes. Does it make me brave or exceptional? No. It makes me somebody in pain. The fact that Michelangelo had pain doesn’t make me hurt any less.

If you really want to understand our pain, the first step is to acknowledge that we hurt. And that it’s OK for us to not be OK with that fact. Telling us about those who overcame doesn’t stop our pain. Making us into brave brave little soldiers doesn’t help us. Telling us to be “positive” has no meaning without acknowledging that we also may be feeling negative.

And that’s the point. There is nothing brave or virtuous about having chronic pain. It doesn’t make me humble or noble. It makes me cranky, angry and tired. And I’d bet that Frida Kahlo would agree with me.

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7 Responses to Not the post I intended

  1. Ted says:

    (I was led here by a link in another, far-off, post on LJ…)

    The main thing that article did for me? Made me think, “yeah, but just think of what they would have accomplished had they been healthy.” Pain sucks.

  2. Kit says:

    Grrrrrr! I REALLY want to give the author of that article a first-hand experience of actual pain.

  3. tassie_gal says:

    With you there! While my situation is different to yours – people sometimes dont understand why I suddenly go grey and sit down rapidly at that time of month. Well if you felt like someone had stuck a blunt knife in your ovary and twisted you would sit rapidly as well wouldnt you?
    sure I could go on BC and mitigate it, but the side effects for me (mood swings, bloating etc) do not outweight avoiding pain for a week in every three.
    I always remember my original PhD supervisor, who suffered chronic pain to the extent of needing morphine patches on a regular basis, saying to me “I am me, I cant help it if my body doesnt agree with my mind with how I should feel!”

  4. Rainy says:

    Pain just is. On pain days, that’s the reality and you ride the roller coaster of stuff that comes along with the pain or depression (or whatever it is) because what else are you gonna do? You’re living your life. Some days, the couch is where I land. Some days are way better. My virtue or lack thereof is not affected by what kind of a day I am having and how I respond to it or how I’m dealing with it in that moment. Bravery has nothing to do with it.

  5. Penny says:

    Also? Retrospective diagnosis is usually very shoddy history. Putting together a comment here and a quote there doesn’t make a strong basis for any medical conclusions (except on TV); and the whole approach (“Mr. Famous had Y!”) denies the complex ways that culture and material circumstance can shape the experience of illness.

  6. His comments remind me of the patronizing way the well-off Victorian moralist would describe the “deserving poor” who managed to maintain some semblance of ethics and gentility despite mind-numbing poverty. How convenient that it neatly absolves them of responsibility for improving that person’s lot or offering help!

  7. A. Thurman says:

    I confess I often laud my sister for doing as much as she does given her chronic illness. Maybe I need to shut up and show more compassion.

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