The older I get the more I realise I have a high pain tolerance. Physical pain tolerance, not emotional. I haven’t really explored this much, I know I don’t like people seeing me upset so I chalked it up to this.
Physical pain is an annoyance that keeps me from getting on with what I am doing. It also mutes me generally. If, say, I cut myself, I’ll verbalise a few choice expletives, clean myself up and get on with what I was doing, and probably be annoyed at myself for being so clumsy.
I feel pain, I do. Some people who know me might disagree. Internalising how I am feeling about it rather than reacting has never been about being “tough”. It’s how I cope.
When I was in labour with my son, I spent the first two days at home with the contractions timing them (I lived across the road from the hospital by chance), I was told “wait until they are 5 minutes apart then come up to the maternity ward”. The only reason I went to the maternity ward in the early hours of the morning that I did was because I couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep. The midwife was a bit shocked to find out I was 6-7 cm dilated, especially considering a woman down the hall was screaming her head off at 4cm. I had 3 friends, my sister and mum with me. When the pain started getting intense (contractions without much break) I ordered everyone out of the room. Looking at this with a new perspective and my new knowledge on sensory issues I see it differently. I had one friend stroking my hand telling me I didn’t have to be tough and to use the pain relief if I needed, my sister and another friend crying, my Mum stroking my head, and my other friend, well, I can’t remember what she was doing exactly but it was too much to deal with so I told them all to get out, except Mum. I also realise now I was having a gall bladder attack during labour. I did let loose with my screaming at that stage, and swearing. I’d been awake for over 36 hours, my son was “stuck” (which I had warned the nurse would happen as I have broad shoulders as does his father), I was cut and torn to get him out, I was exhausted and just wanted to go home, which I literally said (lol). I gave birth to my 9lb 1oz son (4.1kg) without pain relief. I’m not “tough”, and I dislike people assuming I am. I didn’t feel the stitches being put in afterwards.
I didn’t know what a gall bladder was until I started having attacks. It actually took me to the point I was physically sick and couldn’t eat or drink and turned yellow for them to figure it out and hospitalise me. They gave me morphine for these attacks. I don’t remember ever asking for it, I do remember being in the hospital ward silently crying because the pain was so intense I couldn’t speak and a nurse happened to notice and asked if the pain was bad and I gave her a nod, and another time a nurse happened to walk in to my room in the middle of one where I was writhing in pain silently and injected me quickly. What I did like was after my operation having a button I could press to administer pain relief myself, I didn’t have to talk and ask.
I know pain and I know myself. When I fractured my wrist the first time, I became aware of what that pain felt like. I knew I had fractured my ankle the next year. I knew a few years later that my wrist was fractured even though the school nurse didn’t believe me and another few years after that again a fractured wrist. I knew the pain and connected it. X-rays confirmed it. I knew and I was right every time.
It’s given me a sort of “suck it up” mentality (in my head) towards others at times. I do fuss over the people I love though if they are in pain, I want to take it away from them. I’d rather be hurt than see a friend or family member hurt. I don’t like being fussed over at all. I don’t like asking for help. Pain is an annoyance, an unavoidable one at that.