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
“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.
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.