Thursday, April 2, 2009

it wasn't that bad, really

Step 1: Feel.

Wake up gasping at the vice-grip pain in my calf, the vibrating tip of the needle grazes my skin for the first time, collide with the opposition in full stride.

Step 2: React.

Breathe, assess, scream or fight.

Personally, I prefer sharp pain. Something that doesn't just hurt, but actually surprises me...shocks me. I'm not a masochist, it just makes sense. After any sharp pain there's that moment to take a deep breath (unless you just fractured a rib) and assess the damage. The pain left after the initial injury or trauma seems dull...manageable by comparison. Slow lasting pain, even if it's dull to begin with, somehow seems worse. Don't get me wrong, I hate charlie horses. Especially waking up with one, disoriented by the sudden shock. Of course, after a few deep breaths and a glass of water the dull ache feels like a relief. On the other hand, when I was getting my last tattoo the needle on my back didn't really bother me. It was the way my ribs vibrated along with the needle. Not exactly pain, not like the moments when the needle crossed my spine, but that vibration is what I remember most. It was endless. The sixth hour was just as torturous as the first...or maybe more. It was a strange feeling realizing that I no longer needed to flex my abs to breathe, and then realizing how much a tattoo on my back hurt my stomach.

Step 3: Forget.

I don't exactly remember pain. I'll remember that it was painful...but the way that pain felt? Not usually. I don't know...maybe pain is relative. My memory of dislocating my femur in high school is clear. I remember the impact. I remember that my leg looked wrong. I remember assessing the pain as minor enough and deciding to fight. I remember the pain I inflicted. I remember not walking for three days afterward. I remember the drugs and awkwardness of rolling the bone back into place one socket at a time. I remember what happened and what I did, but I don't remember how it felt. Maybe pain isn't worth remembering?

Step 4: Repeat.


  1. damn, that femur hurt really makes me cringe a bit. it's weird, whenever i see bones shooting out of limbs or something to do w/bones in pain, i get a shiver to my body.

    as for tattoos, i have 11 and 7 go down my spine, the others are situated on either side of the tattoos on my spine...

    pain is not worth remembering but i think every situation and type of pain is all relative.

    i guess if one uses their pain to do something greater, than the pain may not be so bad after all.

  2. i think the essence of pain is its transience. after all, it is basically just a warning bell, our body telling us in it's most efficient and urgent way, that something is wrong. pain tends to increase with severity of injury. maybe the kind of pain you would remember forever is the kind that kills you.

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  4. 'maybe the kind of pain you would remember forever is the kind that kills you."

    Those are the pains I remember in vivid detail. The other times I can recall the actions but I feel that the pain is only a vague memory of what it actually felt like for the most part.

    I love the style of this one SK. I am a sucker for anything with bullet points and/or steps. :)