Tuesday, March 27, 2012

on pain, comfort zones, and a bit of the hair of the dog that bit me

I am, sad to say, sensitive to pain. I’m just wired that way. I like to think of it as being the downside of being such a lovely, empathic person (cough, cough). You know, all tenderhearted and whatnot, on the inside, and the outside. This has been on my mind lately, starting with the other day, when I had a crown installed. That’s where they do to the top of your tooth what the coal industry has done to the state of West Virginia: file that puppy down to a nubbin. And then pop a cover on it that’s modeled on your own tooth.

I knew from experience to get a block shot – that’s where the Novocaine goes into the nerve that affects about a quarter of your face, way more than just the tooth to be worked on. Just to be safe, since the last time I had a crown, this became a rather urgent necessity partway through, I also got a handful of added bonus shots all around the tooth itself. By this point, I’d say my whole head was nicely anesthetized and I was a happy camper.

Fast forward to yesterday, the day after the Tough Mudder exercise class. Now, that was a tough workout. But I didn’t realize how tough until yesterday. When I couldn’t move without pain. My quads were in agony. My hamstrings were even worse. Searing stabs of pain lit up muscles in my stomach I had previously only a passing acquaintance with. 

And, interestingly, I found I had no energy of any OTHER kind, either. I mean, it’s not like “well, at least my brain’s on fire with shiny ideas!” Nope, all was blaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Mondays are normally my day to be kind to other people (via giving Reiki to folks at the chemo unit at the hospital), but I couldn’t even envision that happening. Sigh. (Like my post-exercise pain even compares to the side effects of chemo.)  I managed to turn that particular toxic brain channel off, since I find that inspiration is a better fuel mix than guilt. And I just took it easy yesterday.

Today was only marginally better. In the afternoon, I wondered what I should do about my planned run. When in doubt, turn to more experienced people: in this case, my cousin Emily, who’s run like, five marathons.


Aww, crap, I knew she’d say that. Why’d I even ask? What do you MEAN, lying on the couch eating 70% dark chocolate isn’t the recommended remedy? Grumble, grumble. So I hopped gingerly stepped on the treadmill, walked a few minutes, dialed it all the way up to “old lady” speed, and ran for a mile and a half. I only winced for the first four minutes. And then by gum, I felt a little looser. Yay.

You may ask, what’s a wuss like me doing the Tough Mudder for? It’s not because I want to overcome my sensitivity to pain – I figure that’s how I’m built. It’s more that honest to god, it looks like fun. But it’s really only fun if you’re strong enough. And the only way to get stronger is to challenge myself. That’s just how it works.

To borrow from a friend:

where the magic happens

Now, the daffodils out on the side of the driveway are going to disagree with me on this. They have a comfort zone. And that comfort zone does not include overnight temperatures well below freezing.


Good luck, little one.


These little heath buggers seem tougher – I’ll bet they’ll be OK.


The crocuses by the woodpile are looking a little worse for wear – like when the fridge settings are off, and the lettuce freezes.


I’d move, but he’s standing on my foot. He’s eating grass. Which, with any luck, he’ll puke up on our nice Indian carpet later on. That’s my boy!

1 comment:

  1. Entertaining post. So honest. We do all have our individual pain thresholds. As I read the post..moderation, moderation, kept popping in to my thoughts. What do I know? I don't do rieki or yoga as they are not natural to my mind. Walking with occasional extended walking including lots of bending, laying down and climbing to get a photograph framed to capture what I see. What is with animals eating grass until they puke? Thanks for making me think. Sometimes a good thing....