Friday, June 15, 2012

Why does pain have to hurt so much?

You really don't understand a situation until you go through it. As a writer, I understand this. So it behooves the good writer to try to experience as much as possible so he or she can write credible stories.

Pain wasn't on my list, but I got it anyway.

In two days I went from stiff neck to weeping in my car because I couldn't bend my neck enough to get out. Or in. Or look behind to back up. I'm not sure what the cause is, but my body doesn't seem to need a cause to do weird things.

So it occurred to me, as a writer, to analyze why pain has such a negative connotation. I mean, come on, pain is the body's way of slowing you down when you are going too fast, telling you something is wrong and you need to take care of it, and an indicator (if you do it right) that your workouts are actually making your body stronger.

First of all, pain in a body is rarely a localized phenomenon. Even if it's only your shoulder that hurts, you can't bend your neck, you can't lean over, you can't kneel down, you can't grab/hold/carry things because you use that muscle unconsciously with every action. You can't even breathe or sneeze or cough properly because your head is stabilized using the shoulder.

Second, pain inhibits clear thinking. Seems silly, I know, but if it hurts so much that every other thought is pushed to the back, it's nearly impossible to REASON let alone problem solve. Memory of where you put things is fogged by the shuffling haze of focusing on getting from one location to another without falling over in agony.

I think the worst part, though, is it's hard to see an end when the pain is so bad. Losing my perspective of knowing one day soon I will wake up without having to scream when I literally roll out of bed is debilitating. All I can see is pain and none of the recovery calm. We all need hope, and hope smeared with the mud of pain is sometimes too camouflaged to perceive.

After three trips to the chiropractor and a couple heavy doses of ibuprofen, I'm definitely better, but trying to take my lesson seriously: Characters in pain don't think straight, cannot fight as well as they usually would, and often have a more pessimistic outlook on life. And if my characters could talk to me now, they'd be screaming at me to stop the torture, but it's too late.