I was thinking about suffering, and the fact that I don’t want people to worry that I am in pain, because I’m generally not, and in fact if you’re sitting there with a headache, then actually I might be more comfortable here right at the moment, even if your body is likely to be in better shape than mine overall.

It’s interesting to think that nobody can know how something feels to someone else – this is a point that struck me whenever the nurses gave me my asparaginase jabs. They hated having to give the jabs, because they knew it would hurt me, but even if they had experienced intramuscular jabs themselves, they still actually had no idea how much or little it hurt me, except by what I told them. The doctor who gave me my first bone marrow test had one himself once (that’s dedication) so knew how much it hurt him, but we all have such different experiences, pain thresholds, philosophies, bodies, everything really that there’s no way he could know where on my scale of pain it slotted in. So I think I’m fairly comfortable here, though my hands are annoying and my lower back is a bit sore, and I’m weary, but I don’t know whether exactly the same symptoms in someone else would have them declaring themselves fully fit, or incredibly unwell.

But I don’t like to look at happiness/sadness or comfort/pain as a sliding scale, whereby a broken arm is worse than a cut finger, but leukaemia is worse than a broken arm, and therefore I am worse off than a person with a broken arm, but the person with the cut finger is the luckiest. We all have trials, and they’re all different: it would be impossible to count them all up and work out whether we’re luckier or unluckier than others, and there’d be no point anyway. I’m also against the idea that good things and bad things balance each other out in some way – the belief that if you get a dose of good luck there’s probably a dose of bad luck around the corner. Indeed, I just don’t look at life that way: it’s not about how/why things happen, but about dealing with what does happen, and making the best of it. A couple of people have said that they approve particularly of one of the ten things I mentioned ages ago in ‘some thoughts’, the one about the happiest people not necessarily having the best of everything, but making the best of everything. The way to be happy isn’t to wait in hope that everything will go well, but to make the most of what does happen, whether it seems tough or not. I’ve realised this is absolutely key to my philosophy.

2 thoughts on “The individuality of pain

  1. wonder why there are no comments here(?.all of us still absorbing these words of wisdom perhaps?)all good stuff george-well said.perhaps the ability to get in another’s shell and fathom the nature of the challenge faced by each individual is the key to adequate support from the ‘caring professions'( be it improving the quality of NHS spuds or larger(can it be larger?)issues…each man/woman to his own pain depending on past experience & present support…all these thing have a bearing on coping and coping you certainly appear to be.i very much like the idea of not waiting for the good stuff but enjoying the good enough stuff ( and more) en route to the better stuff but not at the expense of waiting for the better stuff.
    well,this is as good as it gets when its 1.30 in my part of the world.
    so pleased to know those intrathecal docs have pitched up…was about to write to the BMA.
    as always,thinking of you & all nortons, hilariousx

  2. If humans really could empathise and understand one another’s pain I think things would be a lot better between people in this life! As things are, none of us can really understand what you’re going through George, but you writing about it is the next best thing I guess!


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