starving for substance


Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 13, 2010

The first time I remember going to the hospital, I was maybe four or five years old. I had the brilliance to think that jumping off a table would be a fun thing to do and so I took a breath and away I went. The next memory I had was in a hospital and I still have an “X” shaped scar under my lip as a reminder of that fun little time. Shortly after I again found myself in the hospital for stitches, this time because I got hit in the head by an automatic door (I assume there to be some scar on the back of my head from that one).

And so early on began what would become a motif: ending up in hospitals for reasons that will never ever impress women. The reasons include kicking blocks of foam (broken toe), teaching swimming lessons (dislocated shoulder), swimming across a pool after swimming lessons (another shoulder), pretending I was Sam Fisher (two broken metatarsals, subsequent surgery, and a couple months spent tripping around on crutches), sitting down to take a test (seizures and a diagnosis of epilepsy that I now lie about), playing basketball (yet another shoulder), and finally getting my shoulder fixed because I was too injury prone in the first place.

More than the actual pain of the event, what’s worse is the feeling in my head something is wrong. Don’t get me wrong, lying in a dark room in the ER for two hours hallucinating from pain because the nurses forgot to give you pain medication as your shoulder muscles spasm is not fun and definitely a “10” on the scale of pain they ask you about. However, physical pain cannot produce that gut scrunching, stomach wrenching, unease that something is wrong. Unless a needle is providing me with morphine, I hate them. It’s not because they hurt, it’s my OCD-ness overreacting that there is something in me that shouldn’t be there.

Sometimes as my mind wanders I think about torture methods they use on spies and how I would fare. I think I could go with the pulling of toenails and fingernails but if they start cutting things on my body I’m pretty sure I’d sing like a bird.

That all being said, recent painful experiences have given me a few new insights on things.

Pain Sucks
There is absolutely no other way around this. Pain is terrible. Physical, mental, or emotional pain is all terrible. You always seem to minimize how bad pain is until it comes again. That’s why every time you stub your toe, you briefly think, for at least one second, that you will die.

Pain is a Constant
Not in the scientific sense nor in the emo sense. But in this lifetime, we can always count on pain. A few months ago, my grandma died. There’s still a lot of emotional baggage I simply refuse to touch after the funeral. A few weeks ago, I accidentally kicked a wall (I was reading why laying on my stomach, my foot nailed a corner, and now I have a dumb scar on my foot). Whether we like it or not, pain is always something we can count on.

Pain is Necessary
This echoes a post I had earlier about fighters and why they do it, but pain adds a feeling of significance to life. If something hurts, we want to justify it so as to make it so our suffering is not in vain. We hype up our circumstances to prove to ourselves and to others that what we’re going through is serious and worthwhile. A popular phrase among students is “I’m gonna die.” A common phrase among soldiers in Afghanistan is “I’m gonna die.” The language is the same but in the less serious circumstances, a greater weight is attached so that we can reassure ourselves that what is happening now is serious. Personally, while guilty of this, I hate it. I hate the false weight we place on insignificant things. None of the aforementioned injuries I’ve had is life threatening in any way but I’m 87% sure I could talk about them for a good few hours. Does it increase the impact of those injuries? No, but it does blow them out of proportion. So why is pain necessary even if it constantly sucks and is something we selfishly wallow in at times?

Because pain points to a future where none of this will matter in a way that comfort cannot.

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