Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

I tripped over Buddhism at some obscure point in life a long time ago and for a short while, it appealed. I thought the noble eight fold path made perfect sense and meditation was a great escape. The moment passed to be filled with a succession of other things that each, in turn, failed me. There is a moment in time when pain passes the threshold of tolerance and it’s in that moment, that all things I’ve learned and read simply disappear. It’s not a moment I think of much, there seems little point in dwelling on the inevitable.

One set of questions the neurologist asked today whilst she distractedly and constantly glanced at my very bruised and bandaged wrist was all about pain. I made a valiant attempt to answer her questions, but after the third ‘I don’t know’, a little frown deepened on her forehead and her fingers began to flutter. It was at this point that I started to guess and pluck random numbers from the air. It felt like I was back in school, staring at an exam paper with multiple choice questions that I had not the foggiest idea how to answer, basing my ticks on statistics rather than on the actual questions, or simply tracing pretty patterns by drawing crosses where they’d be aesthetically appealing.

I’m always in pain. I don’t have any memories of not feeling pain. Breathing hurts. Moving hurts. Sleeping hurts. I lift my arm up to stroke the hair from my forehead and my shoulder twinges as it looses track of where its suppose to be for just a little bit. I don’t sleep much because pain keeps me awake and residing in a permanent sleep deprived haze of painful awareness makes self-awareness very fuzzy. I don’t know how many days I’ve had a headache over the last month, it feels like all of them. I don’t know how long they last, they don’t seem to ever end. I don’t know how severe they usually are, that depends on your pain scale. Are they worse than dislocating a knee cap? Worse than blisters on my feet? Worse than breaking an arm? How are we defining severe? I said mostly they’re pretty bad. Bad enough that I stop moving because moving makes it hurt more and I can’t bear to hurt more. She seemed to accept that.

My fingers hurt a lot, but not nearly as much as my head. We did a Nexus heroic today and on the last boss I’ve grown accustomed to just jump rather than move to break the intense cold. My jump key is bound to the trigger key on the joystick, the bottom right bar of the N52 as well as space bar. Jump is a useful thing to have at hand and so I do. Today I was using the mouse inside the instance and as always my N52. First jump I hit the bar on the N52 and my thumb dislocates. Oops. It was a very eerie moment. I could register that I was being told to jump and my brain seemed to catch itself on this loop of knowing what I should be doing but stuck on the inability to carry out the moment. I couldn’t exchange the mouse for the joystick, couldn’t move my right hand to the keyboard and moving just did not occur to me. I know that I can simply move rather than jump, but in that moment in time, the knowledge eluded me. All I could think about was that my thumb really hurt and I couldn’t move it. Unfortunately, my initial response is not to find a detour, it’s to simply keep trying the same thing over and over, not convinced that it’s failing. We didn’t wipe. I’m not sure whether I moved or located a different jump key, but I kept heals up and the debuff down and we didn’t wipe.I had time to fix it afterwards and as it went back without fuss, I don’t think I even mentioned that it happened to Chris, who sat across the room at his desk with his back turned to me, playing in the same instance. He did notice me putting it back though, did his usual frown, took a breath to launch into the ‘why didn’t you say anything’, but didn’t, closed his mouth and left the room for a bit.

I shrugged. Dislocated thumbs are a tickle compared to a migraine. Maybe that is what she means? Does a migraine hurt more than a dislocated thumb being slammed onto a key? Yes, it does.

Pain is inevitable, but there is pain and then there’s pain. One of the standard responses to EDS after the initial horror  wears off is, ‘I bet you’re used to it’ or ‘you must have a very high pain threshold’. As if feeling pain all the time is some sort of anaesthetic. I wish I could answer better. I do get used to the little things, like an easy finger dislocation or shoulder or rib that pops back without protest. I have gotten used to a rather large amount of pain. So much so, that questions about pain leaves me with a blank expression. Pain is like a constant background noise that changes in volume and pitch, but asking me when which particularly part played is not a question I can normally answer. I remember the big things. The wrist that refused to reduce. The very bad headaches that left scars. The way your head thumps when you have a seizure and the dull ache for days after. Going hiking with dislocating joints. Crashing my first motorbike into a tree and burning a hole in my leg when it landed on me. Crashing my second motorbike and the crunch my skull made when it struck the side of the pavement. There are all sorts of pain and levels of intensity.

There is also the type that doesn’t leave scars. The sort you feel when you are studying music and realizing your perfect pitch hearing has gone a little wonky. On being diagnosed with a hearing impairment (Auditory processing disorder) that isn’t going to go away. The moment realization strikes that no matter how hard you work, how hard you try, you cannot keep up with other people.

Tonight has been migraine central. It’s not a pleasant place to be. It’s been building slowly and although I’ve been resting on the couch with an audio book, it’s still worsening. I can’t sleep. Behind closed eyes I can see the threshold creeping up on me and it takes all my concentration not to stare at it, mesmerized. Think positive, I’m told. Right. Positive. There is no spoon?

It’s the middle of the night, or so it feels, and my achy, fuzzy brain is demanding less typing, more darkness and quiet please. I try to oblige, but it’s difficult not to focus on the suffering in a quiet, dark room and so I pull out my mental map of Naxx and run through the boss fights in my head. Who says you have to be online to play.