Friday, May 27, 2005

Remembering Pain

A man and woman standing next to me on the train were chatting. She asked how his arm was feeling, and he said, 'Oh it's totally fine. I just have this nasty scar now.' And she questioned him further, 'And how did you manage to do that again?' 'Oh I was carrying all these things including a drill, and something touched up against the drill's button, and it came on and drilled into my skin.'

OK, yeah, I really didn't need that visual, or worse that sound, in my head first thing in the morning. But you know, it made me realize something. You can't remember pain. I mean, physical pain. You can remember the emotion. You can remember how you felt ABOUT the pain, but you can't really remember the actual physical pain, what it was like to feel. You can remember the emotion and shock of being hurt by someone you trusted, especially in the case of abuse, but that's not the same as remembering the actual pain itself.

A few years back, I broke my finger playing volleyball and had to have two metal pins drilled through the bones to set it. I decided to walk out of the hospital afterward and head to a pharmacy to fill my prescription for painkillers. Oops, the pharmacy was closed. So I walked a bit further to the next. Closed. The next... opened, but they didn't have my prescription on hand. By the time I found one that was open and had my pills, the local anesthetics had completely worn off, and I was feeling the full effect of two metal rods drilled through my bones. I was screaming as I walked through the store. The clerks were all coming running and asking what was the matter. I threw the prescription on the counter, begging, 'Please fill this, but you have to give me one right now...' and showed them my finger. Within minutes, the pain was subsiding. It was the most intense thing I have ever felt in my entire life. But I can't bring it back to mind really. I can think about it. I can think about the fear and the emotion, but I can't really touch upon the reality of what it must have felt like in the moment.

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