Monday, August 6, 2012

Coping with Pain

I remember this time long long ago, when I was probably 8 or 10 (random guess, I don't really know). It was a Sunday and mom was harnessing all the manpower she could lay her hands upon (read: me, sister and dad) into cleaning up the house, every nook and cranny. I'm talking about the days when we didn't have a housekeeper/maid and had no need for one either. Now I have never been a hard-worker or a cleanliness-freak, and I would do anything to not have to encounter dust as it gives me a highly irritating allergy. So I was kind of slacking in my job of dusting dad's medicine rack. Did I also ever mention how I have always been afraid of scoldings and anyone yelling at me? It frightens me to the extent that I start keeping a distance from the person who yells at me or fights with me.

Anyway, mom caught me slacking and gave me a piece of her mind; I panicked and the medicine bottle went crashing from my hand onto the floor. Glass pieces scattered all over. Another piece of her mind followed. Anyhow she cleaned up the mess and we resumed our respective tasks, this time my making sure I didn't become lax. In the meantime a mean little shard of glass that might have been left out got embedded into my heel. I felt the pinch but was too scared to stop working and risk another scolding and thus went about my work with a slight limp. Now I am a pro at hiding my feelings, especially pain. So no one discovered my limp or the injury for a long time, how long I fail to recall now. The glass obviously went deeper and caused more pain as time went by.

In a few days I guess, one of our beloved uncles visited us. He used to be a total child-pleaser, playing with us, giving us mock plane rides and recounting educative animal stories. And as fate would have it, he noticed my limp when no one else at home did. He asked about it and I came out with the truth. People got worried, analyzed the wound, plucked the glass out somehow and administered required first aid. End of story. I remember no more.

Now the reason why this memory keeps coming back is that I am in pain. And it reminds me of how long and silently I can cope with it. Though I'd consider it a good trait, but it isn't something my mother is proud of. She still almost cries on recalling this incident and laments that I should voice my feelings more; should tell them when I am in pain, so that they do not unknowingly subject me to more suffering and can take necessary action to ease my pain. If only I could do that. But it just isn't me. I wouldn't utter a sound until the pain gets too impossible to bear. Let's just say my body is wired that way. Its threshold of tolerance to pain is a couple of notches higher than any average person like me. I've had multiple ear piercings done at an age when they hurt a lot, eye syringing (read: medical procedure done by inserting a needle into the nictitating membrane of the eye to check if the nasal passage is blocked) done three times, had my left foot sprained about 11-12 times in the last 4 years and undergone a lot more painful stuff I cannot keep track of. I do feel pain, it isn't like I don't. I just don't like to make a show of it, I don't know why. It feels so much more awesome if someone expresses concern on seeing me all bandaged up, and I smile and say "I'm fine". Okay, that may not be the real reason. But I have no answer to why I hide my pain. I was just made that way, much to everyone's chagrin, either by life or by my very own nature and temperament.

But this is why I no longer have leverage with my family and friends as someone who is truly suffering an ordeal. Since I always grin and bear it, over the years they have started assuming that I am fine, so they've dropped the niceties, stopped running errands for me and even asking about my health, even though I am as much in pain as ever. I don't know how I can change that. It's human tendency - we all evolve and adapt. So I've adapted to the indifferent treatment and learnt to fend for myself even in sickness and pain.

But I had this terrible fall yesterday, very similar to the one I had a few years ago, the fateful fall that kick-started all these foot instability issues I have today. It sends chills down my spine to even remember that has shaped my life in more ways than I can count. Though it's the other foot today - the right one. All the more reason to panic, since I don't want it to have the same fate as the left had. Amen.

So the fall yesterday was so bad, I couldn't move my foot at all. I somehow found my way home, slumped down on the sofa right in front of the main door and couldn't get off it for hours. I lay there quiet all day long, hoping that I'd be able to stand up soon enough. But finally when it was time to shift into the neighboring room, I couldn't even touch my foot to the ground without excruciating pain. But I had to move nevertheless, so I managed to play langdi-taang, or to put it in better words, hopped on one foot until the next room. I lay down on the bed there and cried for the next 20 minutes. Yeah, I cried, and I cried very hard. It pained so bad I just could not control myself. Those few meters of hopping felt like my entire foot was being ripped apart and burnt. My mother would surely have been surprised to see me cry, though I could hardly see her through all those tears. She consoled me tenderly and I felt warm, something I haven't experienced in a very long time. She sat by my side for a while, dialing up the doctor's to consult, bringing me various necessities and asking whether I needed anything else. It was when she left that strangely I burst out crying again, realizing that I hadn't had so much care showered upon me in a long long time. It felt...strange. Nice surely...but strange. Was it because of the crying? Probably yes. But it taught me a big lesson. If you expect care or concern, you must let your feelings be known and ask for it yourself. No point expecting anyone to care for you of their own accord. In today's busy time, no one would bother unless you show them that you need them. Alas, I am so used to coping with pain now that I don't feel the need of anyone's care anymore. And that is where I lose every time...


Buzz said...

Aww, fir se?

I like this line for its honesty: 'you expect care or concern, you must let your feelings be known and ask for it yourself.'

However, I feel not sharing makes you more independent and hardy. I never share about my health with anyone, for they worry. It has made me somewhat tough.

Anonymous said...

Thank God few people write posts....or we wudnt even know...whats happening to our dear friends...

Ash said...

heyyy... take care!

Anonymous said...

Quote- "If you expect care or concern, you must let your feelings be known and ask for it yourself."

So you realize that. Good one :)

Mahima said...

@Harsh - Yeah..kinda fir se. Thanks.. You're right actually, it has indeed made me tough too. It isn't very easy otherwise being in the position I am in.

@Ashima - I am...thank you!

@Anonymous the first - I pretty much have an idea who you are.

@Anonymous the second - I do. Thank you..!

Anonymous said...

And m sure you are right in your guess ..
-anonymous the first

Anonymous said...

I slightly disagree with your quote. There are people who care about you even if you don't share anything with them. However, given that you have been adamant about not sharing things with people for a long time, I guess people around you have also started to believing you.

P.S. One positive thing it reveals is that you are an amazing actor. ;)

Anonymous.. :D

Mahima said...

@Anonymous the third - I am pretty tired counting anonymous people now. If you'd be kind enough to comment under your own name, I would really really appreciate. Thank you :)

Regarding your interpretation, well, each has their own. Yours is right too. Both our opinions are the same side of different countries' coins actually. Go figure :P

1mailrishi@gmail said...

hi mahima I my rishi hmmmm good thingh mahima u let ur pain known to the world thru above. Next time ur n pain I m sure u wil have more ppl to attend t u . But from what I learn abt u from above is that u sound too tired with ur life. Shudnt u b more lively and jovial for ur age. I may b wrong am sorry for being judgmental.

Mahima said...

Hi Rishi,

It's actually perfectly natural for you to see me in that light after reading this one post. I'd suggest you read a couple or more posts from the ones being displayed on the right side of my blog. You would be in a better position to judge my disposition then. I am a happy and content person, in total love with my life and everything it brings me. :)

I really appreciate your honest comment. :)

1mailrishi@gmail said...

u encouraged me to read more for ur.stuff by acknowledging my true.comments. Writing is a means of emancipating ur feelings for u. Ever tried experimenting i.e. writing about somethingh else but mahima. I would love to read u write a review of a movie may by some srk flick :)

Mahima said...

Thank you Rishi for your suggestions. I do not catch many movies on the theatre so movie reviews won't really be possible for me. But I might review my favorite old flicks sometime in the future. :)

I do write book reviews as also those about places and other stuff. Check them out if interested.

muthu said...

Hope you get well soon. But honestly coping with pain is not waiting things out. I think you have got the wrong idea about it. It's dealing with it and if dealing with it involves bringing in people who care about you into you problem, then that's a good thing.

hmhm... When i was a kid, I used to act all well, when visiting doctors esp when they are female- I had this chevalier thing. But once my father noticed this and laughed it off- with a humorous line and a piece of advice.

kindly -- do take care.

Mahima said...

@Muthu - Haha..that anecdote sure was funny though sorta irrelevant.

Thank you for the kind words. :) Though if you look a bit deeper, you'll realize, when you have nothing else to do but sit at home alone - coping, dealing with it and waiting all become kind of synonymous. And it isn't like I don't look out for care. I just don't usually get it. I could explain more, but that would surely make for an unreadably long and boring post, and you (like anyone) wouldn't wanna read that. :)

Shobhit said...

I hope the pain has eased out by now. And I also hope you are taking good care of the medical aspects of your injury.

I can relate to what you have been experiencing. I have always had a high threshold for pain. Have even ended up losing consciousness rather than expressing out the pain. :D

But through experience, I feel that leaving aside the aspect of expressing and receiving care, if one gets into a habit of hiding pain, physical or otherwise, it somehow harms the self in the longer run. Though I feel I understood your point about not expressing, but I think it's much better to let one express the pain even if it is just to him/herself.

Just to end on a lighter note, my habit of hiding pain got me into a bit of trouble once, when, while closing the door of my room in a hurry, I left the little finger of my hand inside the room. :D It was only after people pointed out that there was something horribly different with my finger that I realized I should better be rushing to the hospital rather than holding a cricket bat. :P

And yes, in times of a fall, try letting yourself go with gravity. People get hurt more trying to save themselves from getting hurt while they are falling. :D

Amul said...

I really hope that your pain has subsided by now. As I told you, I have been going through your blogs one by one, and your posts are helping me know you better :).

Well, on the point of keeping your pain with yourself, I really admire your ability that you have grown up so tough to handle it all by yourself. I wish I could borrow some.