Oranges and Buicks

I categorically do not understand the idea that pain and/or disability is some sort of competition as to who has it worse.

I once had somebody tell me that they understood my condition because they had rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and there is “no pain worse than RA.” I had to take a few Cleansing Breaths, lest I respond like this:

“Really? RA pain is the worst pain in the world? How do you know that? Ever been shot? How does that compare to RA? Or had a limb amputated?

Or, in my case, had neuropathic pain flares in your legs?”

Until and unless you have experienced all those sorts of pain — and many more that I won’t bother to list here — just do of me a courtesy and Shut Yer Piehole about how RA pain is the worst pain imaginable.

I am not so self-centered as to consider my pain issues any bettor or worse than those of anybody else with chronic pain. It’s my pain, tailored (for better or worse) to my neuroreceptors. Unique to me. Trying to compare it — let alone rate it — against anybody else’s seems to be not only an exercise in futility but one of arrogance.

You have pain. I have pain. We have pain. Our issues may not be the same, nor how it feels on our skin or in our bodies, but at the end of the day, we both have pain.

And isn’t that what matters more? That we can acknowledge each others hurt, rather than turn it into some sort of twisted competition? Trying to compare our hurts is like attempting to compare oranges to Buicks.

This entry was posted in chronic pain, not your teachable moment. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Oranges and Buicks

  1. I deal with chronic pain.

    I almost never discuss it, not even when it’s limiting what I can do because of the comparison thing, especially if someone else also has a problem. I find the oneupmanshit worse than the justgetoverits.

    • thatwordgrrl says:

      I’m not sure if you remember Dances With Cars from AC, but she had Ankylosing Spondylitis (and sadly died from complications far too young, at age 32). We spent an afternoon at Comic-Con discussing how people assumed she couldn’t possibly be disabled because she was a cute gothy girl. Even when she was in a wheelchair, she still got called out as a faker.

      I never assume that just because somebody else looks healthy, that they actually are so.

  2. Brandy says:

    I agree! Even in fibromyalgia, the symptoms between sufferers is so widespread as to be nearly different ailments! Some people have The Fog so bad that they can’t remember how/why to put on clothes, while others have trigger points so severe they feel like being continually stabbed, and others have exhaustion that causes them to stop everything no matter where, as if they have narcolepsy!

    To say MY Fibro is worse than someone else’s is to deny them their experience. All I can say is my fibro makes me feel a hell of a lot worse than before I had it!

    I did have a healthy friend email me a poem she had gotten from her mother. I don’t have it anymore, but it still rankles me. It talked about how we’re all tired, and that we should be at the end of the day. That it means we DID something that day, yadda yadda. I wanted to SCREAM and RAGE at her, that yes, this is true, but you shouldn’t WAKE UP feeling like you had been chasing a bus all night, and STILL have to work a full day at several jobs with that exhaustion! Invisible illnesses…. ARG!

    I would hope that ALL people with pain could bond over it, instead of playing one ups. I try to. People in pain can relate more with all the other things that come with continual pain – the depression, anger, frustration at the doctors who deny and dismiss.

    And even while trying to bond over our similarities, I try not to turn into one of those people that can ONLY talk about their surgeries and pains and illnesses, even if they do seem to be the only things happening in my life sometimes!

  3. Diana Lee says:

    I so completely agree. I actually just said this to a friend today. It’s not the pain Olympics.

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