Dangerous Compassions


I had a headache that lasted five days, off and on.  One afternoon I was lying in bed in the half-dark–I was in so much pain.  All I could do was hold my head and talk to myself.  “You’re ok, Laura-Marie.  I have faith in you.  I believe in you,” over and over, hundreds of times.  It helped.

Pain is amazing.  I had bad headaches when I was a kid.  No one seemed too concerned.  That was intense pain–it was a 9 of pain.  I feel sorry for that kid who didn’t get much help.  If a boy or man had those headaches, it would have been an emergency.  A little girl having headaches was a sad fact of life!

Usually as an adult, I only have headaches when I’m on my period.  It’s normal for me have a headache for around three days.  If I get the period and don’t get the headache, I celebrate.


I was telling Ming how pain is like anxiety–pain can feel so many ways, and anxiety is like that too.  One word for many possible experiences.

  • sharp pain
  • dull pain
  • discomfort to the point of pain
  • long term pain that wears me down and makes me angry
  • aches that might feel kind of good in a way
  • confusion mixed with pain
  • fear mixed with pain
  • pain that doesn’t really matter, but I get sympathy for
  • pain that ruins my life for a time, and no one else knows
  • referred pain
  • creepy pain
  • hot pain
  • deep pain
  • wrong pain
  • embarrassing pain
  • delayed pain
pain scale

“There’s the pain scale, but a number can seem so inadequate for explaining,” I told Ming.  “It comes in totally different flavors.”

Ming said, “The pain scale isn’t to describe pain–it’s to say how it changed.  So if someone takes a medication, and it goes down from a 6 to a 2.”

“Oh, ok,” I said.  “I never knew that.”  Ming is a disabled nurse, and I appreciate his perspective.

wisdom teeth

I’m the kind of person who avoids pills as much as possible, as I come from a family of addicts, and I never wanted to go that route.  When I got my wisdom teeth out, I swallowed the first pill, and never took the rest of the bottle.

The worst pain I’ve known was from my pinched nerve, when it hurt so much I couldn’t sleep.  Sleep struggles for multiple days are special for people with bipolar issues.  I knew I might lose my mind from mania.

Anxiety, despair, and pain all mixed together formed a midnight hell.  I would cry in the night, as Ming slept beside me.  I took these naproxen pills that did jack shit.


I’m grateful for all the time I’m not in pain.  And I try to take lessons from the pain I feel and use it for the powers of good.  I wonder what the pain is for and try to let it motivate me to make good choices for my health.

But a lot of health stuff is not that related to our choices.  We can try to exercise, eat in certain ways, take a vitamin or herbs, get acupuncture, etc.  It’s good to try, and taking care of my body is a joy.  But some health things just happen, or it’s so complicated, there’s no way to know what to do.

I felt like going out to the driveway and dancing in the moonlight to music from a party three houses down.  My body wanted to do that.  My shoulders got loose, and my feet felt steppy–my hands waved around in ways that felt right.


I thought about a lot of things: a man I loved, the cool night air, who I am, what I’m on earth to do.  Dance is a good option, since I can.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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