Hospi-tales: Pain

Or: getting older just means more opportunities to expand your horizon on “the worst thing that ever happened to me.

As mentioned before, I’m not very loud about pain. As a kid I hurt myself regularly in the way kids do, and the more serious it was, the more quiet I got. I once seriously cut my finger making potato stamps and my mum only noticed when my sis asked why I got red paint and she didn’t. During my first Judo tournament I promptly broke my clavicle in my first fight. I told the people from the sports club that it hurt. Judging from my lack of crying, they told me it would be better in a few minutes and I went to fight another fight. Afterwards I really insisted that this hurt and was taken to the hospital. I said I was in pain, I expected people to believe me. For some reason I still do, despite all evidence.

Anyway, back when Caine posted about her back problems and the work with the pain clinic, I believed her, I understood, I felt empathy, but I didn’t really understand. Of course I’d been in pain before. You can’t break a couple of bones and have children without knowing pain, but I didn’t know Pain. Well, another acquaintance I didn’t particularly enjoy. The hospital was (mostly*) good with painkillers, it was a shame that I was in such a peak that even the morphine didn’t do much anymore. The amount of pain I was in would have been an indicator to transfer me to another hospital for surgery if the treatment of cortisol injections directly into the spine didn’t work. Which leads me from Pain to PAIN. The worst thing in the first days was sitting, as it put weight on my poor inflamed nerve, but in order for them to inject me into the spine I needed to sit and round my back. I simply jumped from the table twice. When we finally got down to it I was crying, whimpering and at the end more or less passing out. If PAIN has a bigger sibling, I never want to meet them.


*Sometimes there are nurses who take it upon themselves to decide that you are really not in that much pain and shouldn’t have painkiller. No, not even fucking metamizol, which is usually effective and has lower (but not no risks) than the alternatives.


  1. Jazzlet says

    Oh Giliell I am so sorry you have been going through this, and fuck that nurse it’s just sadism and people who behave like that shouldn’t be nurses.

    One of the things I have had to learn is how to describe my pain in ways that make sense to other people, particularly medical people. I used to be a lot more reserved about my pain, with five brothers I learnt that crying was for sissies and I didn’t want to be a sissy! I carried that over into adulthood and it did me no favours when I started to have the problems that cause my chronic pain, these days I am very clear about the level of pain I am in as it is the only way to get appropriate treatment.

  2. says

    “For there was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently.” A quote attributed to Shakespeare.

    I never had a serious toothache from a cavity, so when one of my teeth hurt just a bit, I freak out at the unknown. I never had anything broken, so I have no clue whatsoever how that feels. I do not have much experience with acute pain, apart from the occasional back pain from flu/cold or strained muscles.

    But I have scoliosis of the thoracic spine and thus I have occasionally hours of acute back pain when one of the disks budges a nerve. It is paralyzing to the point that even breathing hurts. I do not wish that on anyone.

    So far things always got better with rest and careful exercise, but it gives me a glimpse into what you must have been going through and, well, I hope you get better for good.

    Fingers crossed for it getting under control and never rearing its ugly head again. I hope you will get a good physiotherapist to cope with it and treat the underlying cause.

  3. kestrel says

    :-( Broken clavicle as a child? Yeah. That happened to me too. My parents told me: if you get hurt, don’t sit around crying, find an adult and tell them. Well, I did that… and they made me stay in school. (I was 7 at the time.) Adults just really need to learn to listen to children, is what I concluded. And other people need to listen when someone tells them they are in pain.

    Funny, I ran in to a German nurse here, and she was one with very little empathy and complained bitterly to me about patients who **just would not cooperate** with her. I was astounded… and of course we have people exactly like that here… that she had no empathy for her patients and felt very sorry for them.

    Here is hoping the treatment works. That’s just awful.

  4. says

    It’s that aweful double bind of being a woman: you’re not believed when you’re calm, you’re seen as hysterical if you cry.
    I sometimes think that in hospital there usually is no time to develop a connection and people fall quickly into the habit of thinking everybody to be “that person”. Sure, when you work with people you will always meet “that person”, but the problem starts when you think of every new person to be “that person” and have them disprove it.
    I’m lucky that my sister is a phantastic nurse who can give me advice and advocate for me.
    Now I’m on the sloooooow road to recovery, but it’s getting better every day.
    I’m currently watching whatever British bake shows Youtube has to offer.

  5. voyager says

    I’m so glad to hear that things are slowly getting better. I hope you can kick that pain in our ass to the curb soon.

    The worst pain I ever had was following a needle-stick injury from a patient with severe shingles. Seven days later I woke up covered in chicken pox and crying with pain. I had thousands of pox. They were in my hair and around my eyes and my mouth It felt like every nerve in my body was on fire. The Dr. said that because of my age ( I was 30) the virus was behaving more like shingles than chicken pox. The spots hurt like the devil and I couldn’t tolerate wearing clothes, but it was the deep pain in the big nerves that had me crying in the emergency dept. The only place I could get remotely comfortable was in a warm bath on my hands and knees. Shingles is now a chronic thing for me. I get outbreaks a few times a year, mostly when I’m stressed or tired, but they’re nothing compared to that first outbreak that covered me from head to toe,

    It was drummed into my head at college that pain is what the patient says it is. Nurses who ignore a patient’s distress or who withhold medication shouldn’t be nurses.

  6. avalus says

    Oh dear, my sympathies Gilliel I hope you get better soon (allthoiugh, the amount of british coocking TV seems endless…) :(
    And my sympathies everyone else with such painful experiences.
    I also mostly express pain very silent and calm. Being a man, that sometimes gets me totally absurd “you so stoic” and “manly” comments as if I was surpressing my pain on purpose. Toxic masculinity is shit. And what Gilliell said I heard a lot from and seen in action with my sister, my mom and friends. Why do women have to thread such a fine line to be taken seriously?

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