The pain comes in waves. It is unrelenting and yet cyclical. It is stabbing and sharp and dull and achy. It is overwhelming all my senses. I can’t think. I can’t move. I can’t even breathe without feeling it. I go to the doctors and I tell them I hurt. They nod their heads like they understand. They do not understand. When I tell them that they don’t understand, that they aren’t getting it, they smile and nod knowingly at me.

Tell me what it feels like, the doctors will ask. I want to understand your pain, they’ll tell you.

Motherfucker, it hurts. That understandable enough?

At least those are the doctors who are trying. Some just don’t care about pain. If it can’t show up on a blood work test, it doesn’t exist. Assholes.

If you knew me, you’d know how much it takes to make me speak like that, even in the confines of my own mind. That’s something pain can do to you.

But you can’t see pain. You can’t see another person’s pain. You can see the ramifications of pain, their experience of it, but you can’t see  the pain. It’s invisible. It’s silent.

And while the sufferers of pain are usually anything but silent, they know all too well how invisible pain is.

And worse yet, how un-provable.

There is no lab test that can point at your pain and say, “Yep, there it is… that’s pain.”

What makes one person hurt might not make another person hurt, and there’s no way of knowing why or how. Back pain is particular in this area, where one person can have a herniated disc and pass out from the intensity of the pain while another person has a similar herniation and they don’t even know it until it shows up on a routine test for some other condition.

Why does pain increase or decrease or change? No one knows. Why do some people feel pain while others don’t? No one knows. Some people have stronger thresholds before complaining about pain, but that’s not the same as simply not experiencing pain when someone with a similar condition does.

And what’s the absolute worst with chronic, invisible, long-standing pain isn’t that people who aren’t in pain don’t understand it.

Or when someone has the same condition as you and basically tells you that you’re a wuss for being in so much pain, because XYZ condition isn’t so bad–after all, they have it too, so they should know, right? Because pain isn’t individual or can’t be different when people have the same condition. Everyone is the same, right? So wrong.

But even that’s not the worst.

No, the absolute worst is when people who are also in the same type of pain or even a different type of pain try to tell you why their pain is worse. Like it’s some sort of competition.

Let me tell you something: No matter how bad your pain is, mine will always be worse for me than yours is for me—because I can’t feel your pain. I can only feel mine.

I’ve had people tell me before, “Oh, I complain about this or that, but when I see how much pain you’re in, I feel silly for complaining about my pain.”

That’s dumb. Seriously. If my back is killing me, and then you hit your thumb with a hammer, my back pain doesn’t make your thumb hurt any less. Don’t you have a right to your pain even if mine might be different or more? You can’t feel my pain for me, all you can feel is your own, and my pain can’t lessen or change your pain. So own it. Some days, for some of us who suffer chronic pain, our pain is the only thing we CAN own. So we do.

Hell, if nothing else, it reminds me I’m alive. I’m still alive. I’m still kicking. In that respect, pain is sometimes a good thing. A blessing, in a way—I mean, if I were to ever wake up without any pain at all, I might think I’ve died and gone to heaven or something. I definitely would wonder what the heck had happened. Then I’d probably lie very, very still for fear that if I moved or even breathed, the pain would come rushing back.

There is actually something worse than pain, though, and until you’ve felt it and experienced it, you can’t understand it.

That worse than pain thing is this: no pain, for a short period of time, before the pain comes back. That is just awful. Because when you live with chronic pain, you adjust to it. You get to the point where your mind and your body say, “Hey, this is status quo.” Then, the pain leaves, for just a short time, and you feel fantastic—and then BOOM. Like a ton of bricks dropping on your head, it comes rushing back. You are left unprepared, un-adjusted. And it can sink you.

There’s also another thing that makes pain somehow worse—if you can even imagine that there is something worse than pain.

That is knowing there is something out there that takes your pain away and that something being kept from you.

In my case, there are two things that take my pain away: 1) steroids (prednisone, in higher doses than is customarily considered ‘safe’) and 2) marijuana, or THC. Now, with the marijuana, I’ve only tried doing it a few times and it’s been a long time ago, but I don’t have to get ‘stoned’ to get relief. It’s just a little bit, takes the edge off the pain for hours, if not a couple of days, and it lets me sleep peacefully. It’s amazing. Why can’t I use it? Because it’s illegal, in my state, to even have any on your person. Doctors are less likely to work with you if they feel you do illegal drugs, especially if you’re asking for pain management, and they are going to prescribe narcotics for that pain.

It’s so stupid.

The steroids, well… they do horrible things to the body. Horrible, horrible side effects that can be permanent. THAT they’ll let me have, but marijuana, which does very little bad to the body, I can’t have. Narcotics, which are highly addictive and can cause all sorts of side effects that are terrible, I can have those. But I can’t have a little weed to take the edge off the pain and let me sleep, ‘cause that’s a plant—oh, my god! A plant! Ahhhh!


The pain comes in waves. It’s unrelenting. It spasms and grips and squeezes and rolls over my body. I writhe in pain. I cry in pain. I ache. I hurt.

I hurt.

I always hurt. I would give more than I’m prepared to admit for the pain to go away.

Love and stuff,

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One Response to “Pain”

  1. Buffy says:

    Once upon a time, pain used to be an indicator, a reliable indicator, that something was wrong. I don’t think we’ve evolved past that time. I think pain is still an indicator that something is wrong… but now, if people who spend years investing time and money in degrees to become doctors can’t find a “test” to define what is wrong, they dismiss the pain (and the person)… rather than admitting that they just don’t know and trying to treat the symptoms.

    I want to believe in science and technology because I’ve seen the improvements they have brought to our lives, in general. But when we take the humanity completely out of the equation, rely solely on our incomplete understanding of science and mediocre technology to treat complex problems we don’t yet understand… when we would rather condemn people to live in excruciating pain because we believe the consequences are more tolerable for them than potential consequences of treatments which give them relief… where is the compassion, the humanity in that?

    I don’t know what the answer is… I watch, helplessly, bound up and ineffective… and I do know what I would give to give you relief, to give you back your life, if I could.

    Blessings, Love, and Light…


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