Hurts So Good

We’ve spoken about pain before, and how to push through our perceptions of what is bad and good. The gallbladder implosion incident has given me for the first time a decent idea of what bad really feels like: I’ve broken toes before, but the pain of those is lost to the mists of time. First and second birth were so highly medicated that, to be honest, I couldn’t reliably tell you how it felt either. How do you know when you’re looking at a trip to the hospital?

This is particularly tough when your 14 year old is coming to terms to what an allergic reaction feels like, and the circumstances where she’d need to use an Epipen. It’s about understanding first that she has the symptoms: remembering what they feel like and how that affects her body. Then, it’s telling her that as soon as her major bodily functions became impaired (breathing, cognition) it’s vital to seek medical help and then self-medicate. Learning how your body works is an essential part of the process.

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The process of pushing myself physically comes with its own sets of challenges. Last night, for instance, for a brief and glorious period of less than a minute, heart-rate creeped up above my normal threshold. The physical consequences of this are many-fold: breathing loses any kind of rhythm, brain struggles to keep focused and, literally my chest hurts. Last night, however, I was prepared for all this. We didn’t stop, just slowed down. We kept moving, and experienced the sensations properly.

It wasn’t about speeding up last night, or pushing through any kind of barrier. I just needed not to stop, and so that’s what happened. Fear is the biggest killer, means by which you will never move past your static goals, because it is the possibility something bad is going to happen that prevents you from ever making the effort. Nothing bad happened, I didn’t fall over or pass out. Making it to the end of the class, for the first time in several months, really felt like an achievement.

Those of you who don’t have to worry about this kind of stuff are very lucky indeed. You individuals who can just run without thinking, exercise without consequence. I wonder, do you realise just how lucky you are? Is there ever a moment where you stop and think what it might be like not to be able to do everything you want… or is this never a situation that ever crosses your mind? These are the days when overthinking becomes a distinct curse.

Pain has all sorts of consequences, and not just the ones you’re unlucky to feel.