My relationship with pain

Pain is an interesting sensation. Pain can bring out a number of reactions; Shock, Fear, Frustration, Pleasure, Anger……    Whatever the reaction, they are instant and intense.

Over the centuries, pain has been used as a training tool. From a slave master whipping their slaves, to a toddler who sticks their finger in the hot water tap of a water dispenser, to a parent who smacks their child, to a person’s first heart break.  The age old logic is ‘if it hurts, learn from it and don’t do it again’. 
So what’s my relationship with pain? It’s like any relationship you have with a wild animal. You can tame it, or in my case it tames you, but drop your guard or not play by the rules, it will cause all manner of damage. 
Pain is a wonderful training tool. I’ve been trained to get things done and avoid procrastination (sometimes though it is hard to do…..go figure, I’m human!). I’ve learned to be determined, work through the pain…… Take no prisoners. I’m fiercely logical, so my problem solving skills are off the chain.  All these acquired skills…… Sometimes it’s hard to decipher  whether they have been taught to me or they are part of my personality. 

All these skills helped me get where I am today. I have a PhD…….. In computer systems engineering (I won’t lie, that shit was difficult). The thing about a doctorate is this, it has fuck all to do with how ‘intelligent’ you are. It’s all about whether you have the balls to start and better yet, whether you can achieve the goals you set. It’s not for everyone and to be frank if I was given a chance to do it again I not sure I would do it again.

Growing up I went to a catholic summer school (call it a symptom of very easy-going parents, cos we ain’t catholic).  When the proprietor found out I was a sickler, she took me aside and counselled me on how the pain could be put as an offering to Jesus, because he did the same when he died for our sins.  I think she thought it would be an avenue to help me deal.  Here’s the thing about drawing on metaphors, if you don’t make them exact you run the risk of making yourself sound like you’re selling pointless insurance especially when you haven’t a clue who you’re trying to sell it to.  When you think about pain, you think about the light at the end of the tunnel, when you get to the other side, when it stops hurting…… that does not happen with Sickle Cell.  Sure the pain stops after a crisis, but there is no telling when the Grinch will come back.  No one tells you how to deal with that uncertainty, no one tells you sometimes no matter how much you play by the rules “shit just happens”.  But hey “That’s life”………DEAL.

I know I’m not painting a pretty picture, and frankly my intent is not to, but these are the thoughts that can go through a Sicklers head from time to time.  I would have loads of sessions with my psychologist friend (I miss her loads!!) where I would just off load and she would help me see that even if I couldn’t see the end of the tunnel there were those things that offset the bad – Family, Friends, Love, my achievements despite my shortcomings, and the hope that as I moved through the different phases in my life – MY Definition would have less and less of the Grinch forefront.

For my learned friends I’m sure they are chomping at the bit to say these thoughts and feelings are that dreaded word……….. Depression.  Now most sicklers I know like to think that they only have to deal with the sickle cell – I’m one of those people but there are side effects to the disease that do affect our quality of life.  A year ago my GP in the UK made me fill a questionnaire and she told me that I was moderately depressed.   I totally ignored her but given these last couple of months I’m now inclined to take her a little more seriously.  I’m currently trying doing my research and I will have a post talking about Sickle Cell and Depression but in the meantime know that you (my fellow sicklers) are not going crazy and you are not alone………..