Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Note of clarity.

There is something very pure about the pitch of the cry given out by the nerves around a fresh wound to the body, no matter how insignificant. A half-dollar-sized blister formed against the side of my left heel yesterday from an ill-advised walk in new shoes had a new-fangled silicone plaster applied to it, but during sleep, I managed to scrape both plaster and blister off of my foot. I sat up in bed, having gone from deep sleep to immediate awareness in a scant second.

After treating the wound with scissors, 91% alcohol (oh yeah. Feel the burn.) Neosporin, and band-aids, I realized that I was up, and that there was no fighting it.

I got to thinking about pain.

Spider Robinson makes the superb point that one of the most damnable things about pain is that the body will continue to alert you to some injury or irritation, even when there's nothing you can do to alleviate it. Dammit, there needs to be an "Off" switch. Or at least a snooze alarm. There are people who live with constant pain in their lives, and have treated it the best that they can, and will die with that pain... but can't make it stop.

Well dammit, that's just inefficient, is what it is.

As the pain of my relatively insignificant (self-induced, through stupidity) wound faded away, I thought about the worst pains I had ever felt. The worst was when, as a 5 year-old, I fell from an 8-foot height from an oak tree, and broke my right radius and ulna, and dislocated my elbow. My parents insisted that the bones be set by an orthopedic surgeon (I'm now grateful for this, as the evidence of the break is almost imperceivable), and that night I spent sleepless as the swelling caused my arm to fill the thin expansion cut in the plaster cast.

The most pain for the smallest wound? Dental pain. I simply can't think of anything else, until it's cleared up.

Small glass shards in the foot are over-achievers in the injury-versus-pain ratio, too.

My wife, awakened by my self-ministering, told me that the worst pain she's ever felt was childbirth. She had an epidural halfway through our second child, and given the pain that I observed, I was so thankful when the medication filled her spinal cord. She said that the second place was when a poorly-applied root canal (thanks a whole frickin' lot, Monarch Dental) came loose in her jaw.

Now, an hour and a half later, the pain is virtually gone. It was just that square inch of skin being ripped away that made the peripheral nervous system ganglia sing for a bit.

Maybe I'll take a nap, in a bit.

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At Saturday, July 12, 2008 7:25:00 AM, Blogger Tam said...

Mine is exposed bone ends scraping on asphalt. 'Til the day I die I will not forget that sensation.

At Saturday, July 12, 2008 7:35:00 AM, Blogger Turk Turon said...

For me, the worst pain was kidney stones.
I had 'em taken care of with a lithotrypsy procedure at the hospital. When I arrived, the admitting nurse asked me the usual questions, including, "Why are you here?"
"Kidney stones", I answered.
She winced. "I had those once, and the pain was worse than either of my deliveries."
I reckon it's about a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.

At Saturday, July 12, 2008 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Just be glad you don't have back problems. That is a pain that never goes away. On bad days, it feels like a knife is being stuck repeatedly in the lower back, then twisted. Inversion chairs, exercise morning and night and occasionally 500mg Tylenol are about the only things that allow a decent night's sleep. Sometimes in hotels, I just sleep on the floor because it hurts less.

At Saturday, July 12, 2008 12:22:00 PM, Blogger phlegmfatale said...

I've often puzzled over how demanding the torments of a hang nail can be.

At Saturday, July 12, 2008 5:16:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

I sure tend to think that Tamara's pain experience, without regard to duration, wins any comparison that one might make vis a vis pain intensity.

And grossness.

At Saturday, July 12, 2008 6:41:00 PM, Blogger 5150Wife said...

I have to agree with your wife.

"Natural" childbirth. No meds. Nurse on top of me pushing down on my swollen belly. Dr between my legs with his arm up inside where it never should be...groping around to grab WildMan's head. Now THAT's pain. (Thus WildMan was our last)

I used to rate my pain on a 1-to-10 scale. No more. Now it's 1-to-childbirth.

At Saturday, July 12, 2008 9:34:00 PM, Anonymous Castr8r said...

I've experienced all the pains you've listed except childbirth (I'm poorly equipped for that...).They're all bad, especially the passing of kidney stones- or "gravel" in my case, and I will say that Tam wins, hands down. All I could think was "Aw Shit, Awshit, AWSHIT!!" Damn!

At Saturday, July 12, 2008 10:29:00 PM, Blogger Dedicated_Dad said...

Unfortunately I know this one well. I'd give almost anything for a switch.


At Sunday, July 13, 2008 6:50:00 AM, Anonymous homebru said...

Heart attack.

At Sunday, July 13, 2008 9:25:00 AM, Anonymous Bob@thenest said...

The body also plays jokes on us, well, at least me but I'm sure there are others, by way of misdirection.

My neurosurgeon and I know darned well that the nerve pain in my right leg is coming from nerve root compression in vertebrae L4. However, that doesn't stop me from massaging the daylights out of my leg, which of course does absolutely no good at all, other than serving as a minor distraction. I KNOW the leg is not the source of the pain, but that is where the pain IS, so that's where my brain tells me to rub.

Pity is that I'm not getting any smarter about it, either. I guess that's why I'm recovering from my 4th spine surgery.

At Sunday, July 13, 2008 11:24:00 AM, Blogger SpeakerTweaker said...

Until my recent blowout of the left knee, mine was a bee sting.

You read right. A bee sting.

SURE, GO AHEAD AND LAUGH. Point at me and make your jokes, I CAN TAKE IT!!!

But, do you know what it's like when they pull the stinger out of your eye?

Again, you read right. Bee sting + eyeball = pleaseGodkillme.

Course, Tam had to go and comment first. How the hell are we supposed to compete with that?


At Monday, July 14, 2008 10:41:00 AM, Blogger Jay G said...


When it hurts putting a thin sheet on top of your foot, try sleeping... The slightest motion sends shock waves of excruciating pain radiating through the afflicted area (typically the big toe) and up and down the legs.

Now do this for 1-2 weeks straight.

Then give a one week pause, and the other big toe gets its turn.

(To add to the fun, mix in a toddler who insists on stomping on your toe every single time he walks by you...)

Sure, it doesn't have the visceral edge of raw bone on pavement, but the duration is the thing here. Excruciating pain for weeks on end...

At Monday, July 14, 2008 2:30:00 PM, Anonymous Stingray said...

Thanks a lot, Tam. Here I'd been considering some little form of two-wheel scooter for the around-town jaunts (1 mile to the hardware store, mile to the grocery store, that sort of thing), but much to LabRat's joy, I'm sure, you've done an excellent job of blasting that notion right out of my demented little skull.

My worst is a toss-up between having a cavity drilled without novocaine and having my ribs tattooed over on the side of my pectoral muscle near the nipple. Yeah, I got nothing.

At Monday, July 14, 2008 6:13:00 PM, Blogger IceFire said...

Childbirth? no problem. Horrendous kidney infrection that felt like someone had inserted a hot knofe through me and was twisting...hurt like heck, but survivable. Cortisone shot into a heel spur? agonising, but over fairly quickly. By far the worst for me has been a migraine that was a 15 on a scale of 1-10. It's enough to make me BEG for someone ANYone to do me a favor and amputate at the neck.

Tam's is still probably worse, though@

At Tuesday, July 15, 2008 10:45:00 PM, Anonymous Bob@thenest said...

Stingray, in the 70's I was in the hospital for a month with back problems. Army hospital ortho ward with LARGE bay of beds, aisle down the middle and 4 beds each side. Lots of folks moaning at night.

It dawned on me one day that for over a week an old retiree and I were the only two people in there for reasons other than motorcycle accidents.

I'd been riding for a few years and figured my luck had been pretty good, so I sold mine a few weeks after I got home.

I've missed it, but...


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