Those of you who’ve followed this blog know that I live with chronic pain. Lucky soul that I am, I’ve got both types of pain: neuropathic (or central), from the damage to my spinal cord by the tumor and surgeries to treat it; and nociceptive, caused primarily by the stress a ten-level spinal fusion puts on the vertebrae immediately below, a severe contracture in my right hip, muscle spasms and spasticity, residual pain from my now healed tib/fib break near my right ankle, and a permanently dislocated right shoulder. (The right shoulder problems occurred during my hiatus -- the story warrants its own entry somewhere down the road.) It doesn’t help that the spinal cord damage (SCD) makes my right leg and foot hyperesthesia, making me extremely sensitive to pain stimuli -- any pain to that leg is stronger and last longer than similar pain in other unaffected parts of my body.
With so many types of severe pain ever present in my life, all of the years that I’ve dealt with it, the myriad ways I’ve developed to cope with it, and the handfuls of medications I take to keep at manageable levels, why does having a stye in my eye or an irritated taste bud on my tongue still hurt so frickin’ bad??
In the grand spectrum of pain, those are little things. Ask anyone, “What’s more painful, having broken glass ground into the underside of your arm (one form of my central pain) or having a stye? A dislocated shoulder or an inflamed taste bud?” and they’re going to pick the broken glass and the dislocation. I’m no different -- I know, without a doubt, that all of the forms of pain I deal with should be far more painful than a little red lump on my eyelid or white bump on my tongue.
Yet these little things HURT. Most times, the discomfort isn’t overwhelming. But now and again, they’ll flare -- sometimes enough to make me tear up and emit a muffled groan. I have both right now, and heaven help me when I forget about the taste bud and run my tongue over my teeth. Don’t even get me started on what it’s like if I happen to blink at the same time.
It makes me crazy trying understand why these little things can cause flashes of agony that can feel worse than more severe than the pains that are always with me.
It makes no sense.
It bugs me.
It gives me a headache.
Which, of course, is just what I need.