I’ve broken many bones. Most of them were my own. I’ve broken a leg, a wrist and a nose while skiing. Trees are not surprisingly unyielding. I broke just about all my fingers wrestling. For good measure I broke just about all of them again rock climbing. I broke an ankle falling off a roof. I broke a collarbone, some ribs and the nose again mountain biking. I’ve had a concussion, ripped a tendon off a bone, detached a retina and hyperextended a knee and an elbow. You could reasonably conclude from this that I am clumsy, foolish, or reckless. Most likely it is some combination of the three. My point though is that I know something about degrees of pain.
To complete my expert credentials on the subject of pain, I have rheumatoid arthritis. RA offers three distinct sorts of pain. The inflammation pain is like sticking your knuckle on a hot stove and holding it there until the skin just about starts to cook. The dull ache pain emanates as if coming right from the marrow. The searing, shooting pain happens when you do something your body does not want to do like tie a shoe lace, open a soda bottle or generally move in any way. It is like being stabbed with a hot fireplace poker. I only assume this to be the case as being stabbed with a fireplace poker is on the short list of unfortunate events I have not experienced. When all three sorts are occurring at once it’s called a flare up, and your rheumatologist will give you highly restricted narcotics and a pitying look.
I am having a flare up. This is pain turned up to eleven. The narcotics do very little to alleviate this degree of pain. What they do accomplish admirably is make you not care much about it. They also remove most social inhibitions, all good judgment, and inhibit one’s ability to operate heavy machinery. It warns about the heavy machinery bit on the label. This is particularly frustrating as I was just getting ready to take the backhoe out for a quick pool digging. Picture Beavis and/or Butthead with a spear stuck through the chest. That is the essence of having an RA flare up and being on Percocet or some such.
I have broken ribs a few times. Most of them were my own. Broken ribs make almost any activity painful. Something quite strenuous like……breathing…..brings to mind the torture of the inquisitions. On one particular occasion of broken ribs, I was punched in said ribs. How I came to have broken ribs and then have them punched is another story entirely. However, my point is the pain. I dropped like a Jersey Shore bimbo’s panties; that is to say I didn’t come back up. And I cried. I cried like a little girl. I cried like my puppy died. I cried like a little girl whose puppy has died. The pain of an RA flare up is worse than that.
There is pain worse than the physical. Sorrow or heartbreak can hurt in their intensity and duration far more than the temporal discomfort of the flesh. There may be perhaps no greater pain, no greater rending of the mind and senses, than the death of one’s child. An RA flare up does not compare to that. Given I can speak with experience on that subject also, trust me when I say it does fucking hurt.
(Relax peoples. I’m not spiralling; just writing.)