Sunday, August 14, 2016

Pain

I've been recovering from a medical procedure and so have been a bit scarce around here. I popped into social media for short periods of time, but mostly I have been just enduring, distracting myself with radio stories (This American Life archives, I'm looking gratefully at you) and Olympics coverage (even when I could only listen to it rather than watch it, it was a welcome mind-occupier). It's only within the last day or two that I feel like I'm finally getting my life back.

I've thought a lot about pain this week, too, about how we can prepare ourselves for a certain amount of it, but once its reality exceeds our expectations in either intensity or duration, our inner resources are sorely taxed. Sometimes we equate the ability to cope with pain with morality, and I do admire those who can endure without complaint, but I don't know that that's really a moral issue. There are times when all we can do is make it to the next moment. As writers, these are the lengths to which we push our characters, and I think the central question for me as a reader is: How do characters cope with pain?

6 comments:

  1. I have chronic pain problems. I never used to say anything about it except the occasional "ouch" because I never quite realized anything was wrong; I thought it was normal. Then it got worse -- waaaaay worse -- and I did mention it a lot more often. Until I realized that nobody cared or, at least, that no one wanted to hear about it. It's a bit like mental illness in that way; if the "story" doesn't have a clear arc (get sick, suffer, get better) then people lose interest in it after a while. I've heard people with depression, cancer, ASD, chronic pain, and more chronic/longterm illnesses all express the same frustrations with how people lose interest in their wellbeing once their illness isn't new and interesting/fails to wrap up in an expected manner.

    I guess in my writing, I try to take that into account when I have characters in pain. Some get it resolved more quickly, while others have it drag out for a long time even if they don't say anything about it. Also tried to mix in a fair number of supportive vs. jerk "friend" characters...haha.

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    1. I'm sorry you're dealing with that. You're right, other people tend to forget that one is in chronic pain, especially if the person doesn't mention it much, or else they remember but don't know what to say if it's an unchanging situation. Yet it is so difficult and affects everything else in one's life.

      On the TV show HOUSE, they had a character who was in constant pain--he dealt with it by becoming addicted to pain meds and being very sharp-tongued. Though the last part may have been just his baseline personality!

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  2. I'm glad to read that your surgery seems to have been a success and you are gradually recovering!

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  3. Sorry you had medical issues. Hope your recovery goes smoothly and quickly.

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