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Some Painful Insight


Recently, I’ve been carting around a rather inconvenient injury.

It's the first time in my life I have hurt myself badly enough to be physically limited on a daily basis and for a number of weeks at a time. The injury doesn’t require surgery or serious treatment; only time, the right movements and ample rest.

Any avid sportsperson, gym junkie or exercise crusader will tell you that being sore is part and parcel of being active – the delayed onset of muscle soreness is a sign of a good work out. But in my case, hobbling around for the last two weeks has entirely worn thin the novelty of “geez, went hard last session”.

Something else wearing thin, over the past fortnight, is my patience.

Normally I take pride in my diplomacy, my ability to be tolerant of others and to handle situations I don’t prefer. But while I have been slow, sore and the resident Crip walker at my office, I have had no reserve faculties to cater for anyone else’s needs and preferences. I’ve had no spare fuel in the tank, no overflow in my cup and no sympathy for anybody but myself.

It sounds harsh and I’m not attempting to justify the severity of my moods. However, it is an interesting coincidence I have been less forbearing and concurrently less mobile.

The past fortnight has given me what I can only assume is a scaled-down insight into the experience of suffering from chronic pain syndrome. According to Pain Australia, one in five Australian adults suffer from chronic pain – most of them over the age of 50. Many of these people live their lives in far worse agony than I, and for far longer than a mere two or three week period. Doing a little research for myself, I was fed back some of the empathy I’d lost.

The physical manifestation of pain is a curious thing. The place of perceived tenderness isn’t necessarily the place of damage, because the body fires signals in elaborate and convoluted ways, but with a professional on hand the source can usually be located and treated. However, phsychological signals are far less obvious to diagnose.

The injury I sustained (which as of this writing is well and truly on the mend) has definitely given me pause – and not just in the practical sense – to ponder the lives of those who are perpetually broken, ill or elderly. If you know someone who is in pain, be patient and kind with them. If they are angry, distant, moody or critical, it is likely a symptom, not a personal attack. Practice the art of compassion, both toward the person in question and toward yourself.

For a minor injury, a little motion can often be the lotion. For something more major, a case can be made for showing a little e-motion, too.

Originally published in The Murray Pioneer

Paige Leacey