When you pinch yourself, hard, with a pair of needle-nose pliers, say, you can endure Herculean amount of pain. Enough to leave your nipples semi-hard for three hours with fancy groves running back to front. When Mistress Misery, however, applies the exact same amount of pressure you find yourself in incredible pain and utter “Mitt Romney” (which has been your safeword for three years) to make the ouchie stop. The difference is that when you’re in control, or at least know what to expect, you don’t suffer pain in the same way as when you’re out of control and do not know what is coming next.
image source: http://hm1art.deviantart.com/art/CATWOMAN-334876858
I played a lot of sports when I was young and as a result my body is falling apart. I’ve suffered back, neck and even hip pain since I hit twenty. Six years ago while living in Spain I destroyed my rotator cuff. I had been doing behind the neck pull-ups the day before benching pretty heavy and felt some weird pain. I was pretty much Grizzly Adams at the time so that night when I went to chop firewood, I felt a two inch Smurf crawl into the back of my shoulder and go all Scarface with a chainsaw.
It took three months before I could even comb my hair or brush my teeth with my right arm. Because we were in Spain and I was terrified of what butchery I might endure and also because I didn’t have Spanish insurance, which was nothing but a card you show to the local winemaker for jugs of pain relief anyway, I rehabbed myself using exercises I found on the internet and buckets of ice.
After two years I could finally lift weights again and slowly brought myself back to my “normal” which is what other people call “crazy person pretending to be healthy.”
I should mention here that I’m not an obnoxious gym rat douchey guy that wears pajama bottoms because my thighs won’t fit in normal clothes. I’m strong, but I’m a tiny girly-man that most women and all men could beat up with zero difficulty. I don’t work out to get big. I work out because I used to be an alcoholic and if I’m not drinking I have to do something to keep my brain from breaking bad. Afterwards I feel good, like I’ve had a fix.
I work out because until I do my body feels sluggish, and like I’m thinking through a fog. Afterwards my body feels alive and I have clarity of thought. I work out because if I don’t I’ll sit on the couch and eat ice-cream and hook up a morphine drip and lazily masturbate until I die. Either I’m very healthy and good or I’m terrible and will die. I work out because I need to; I guess is what I’m saying.
I still play sports for the same reasons. I taught Karen how to play tennis a few months ago and she took to it like Andre Agassi took to applying sunscreen on the top of his head. She didn’t just love it, she needed it. We have played every day we’re both off in the morning (mid 80’s and sunny) and in the early evening (mid-hell temperature) as well as every other spare hour we can find. Six pm in June in Florida is not an ideal time to play tennis considering parts of our shoes melt onto the court. But, we have fun.
Last week I treated myself to a day pass at the Y. Sure, I work in a gym and can work out there for free but the Y does not have clients who want to talk to me non-stop while I’m trying to exercise. They DO have cooler, newer equipment, a pool, a sauna and a Jacuzzi. Filled with hope and testosterone, I used that cooler, newer equipment until my shoulder screamed at me in indignation.
It started out with a sharp pain and spread to an enveloping numbness that was just like heroin only not enjoyable or addictive. I skipped the luxurious Jacuzzi so that I could go home and ice it. Then I went home, iced it and had a nap.
That all sounds very adult (with a nap-hint of toddler thrown in) but I can assure you there was nothing calm about these actions. I thought:
-If I can’t train clients on the machines I’m going to be fired from my job.
-I don’t have insurance so I can’t even get my shoulder repaired.
-What can I do without the use of my right arm?
-I can’t workout so I’m going to go into a depression.
-I can’t play tennis so my wife is going to leave me, probably for a tennis pro.
-I’ll be considered disabled and I won’t be able to find another job anywhere.
-Or another wife.
-But… I could get a job as a Wal-Mart greeter.
-I wish Target had greeters, I hate Wal-Mart.
-I’ll have to find a nice Wal-Mart assistant manager and move into her trailer park.
-I can play left-handed checkers and Connect Four on her shit stained sofa while her meth-addicted son shoots BB’s at me for drug money and since I won’t have any money he’ll keep shooting me until I lose an eye and the last sliver of my will to live.
-I’M GOING TO DIE.
Source: Unknown Meth Addict – If it is you I will happily add credit
So instead of napping like a normal three year-old-adult I tossed and turned and felt my shoulder ache and sweated profusely in pain and fear. I got up and made Karen repeat that she would not leave me if I became an invalid.
Two days later and I think my shoulder is actually okay. We played tennis last night and it didn’t bother me at all. My point is, I’ve had an epiphany: it’s not the actual pain that causes suffering. It’s the uncertainty of not knowing how bad it’s going to get, of not knowing what’s going to become of your life. Animals do not suffer. I need to learn to live like an animal. So that the minute something terrible happens to me I can curl up on a trailer park couch without anxiety or fear and simply let the BB pellets ricochet off of my tortured body.
Must read – Lost In Spain: A Collection of Humorous Essays by me
The funniest book you’ve never read.
That’s very interesting. I think exercise is like meditation because it clears your mind of idle thoughts, so maybe that’s why it works for you. To feel pain without suffering is what Buddhist masters who’ve achieved enlightenment can do. You might find that easier than trying to be an animal. Or maybe your shoulder will just heal.
It’s definitely meditation for me. Real meditation is great too but I can never sit still long enough to get the benefit. I would love to find enlightenment. Or at least some semblance of it.
You had me snorting. Then chuckling. Well, maybe not chuckling. More like laughing through my nose. At any rate, I can relate, especially to the downward spiral our brains can take. Funny post.
You chop firewood? You’re a keeper.
Snorting is good. Well, as long as there is nothing underneath your nose, I mean.
Ahh Spain. We lived up in the mountains and had a very frontier-ish existence for a few years. I loved it!
Fun Fact: I’m distantly related to Grizzly Adams. The real person, not the actor on the show.
And I totally pick up what you’re laying down here. I have this thing where my knee will dislocate. It will be fine for a long time then I will step slightly wonky or slip on a small puddle of water on my kitchen floor (like two weeks ago) and it will pop out. Most of the time it will pop back in instantaneously, but sometimes I have to slam it back in like Mel Gibson did his shoulder in Lethal weapon only I use my hands not a wall. The pain is gawd awful and I walk with a severe limp for a few days after. And during the recovery period I fall into a deep “why me?” funk and I wonder if maybe this is the time it doesn’t heal up on it’s own and I’ll walk with a limp forever or will be forced to have surgery. I snap out of it right about the time I can walk normally again. It’s a pathetic cycle. If the zombie apocalypse comes, I’m toast.
For real? I honestly didn’t even know there WAS a real Grizzly Adams. Or are you jerking the chain that’s connected to my brain again? If not you are exactly who I want in my abandoned prison during the apocalypse. Bad knee or two bad knees, I’ll take you over Daryl any day!
It’s the same with my shoulder. If I reach for something at an awkward angle it twinges and I worry about it all night.
For real though; the first news report about shit hitting fans, we find each other.
Yep. Real dude. James Adams. Related to all the big Adams names in early American history: Samuel, John, John Quincy. I’m distantly related to all of them. *More You Know Rainbow*
And I’ll be your zombie killin’ partner any time! I think we’d make a great team.
When the shit hits the fan, I might even tell you my middle name.
That is, literally, the most amazing thing I’ve heard this year. Jesus! Wait, are you related to him as well?? We need to go to your relatives’ houses and rummage in their attics and basements until we have enough founding father/birth of a nation-type porn to buy the best crossbows on the market. And I want a flamethrower.
Who has two thumbs and is besties with American Royalty? This guy!
I kept staring at the unknown meth addict to make sure it wasn’t me. Then I remembered, I’ve never even tried meth and the only thing I’m addicted to is ‘Game of Thrones’. Fwhew!
Of course you’re not the unknown meth addict. The unknown meth addict is a grown up flesh and blood Beavis. (I’m just trying to lure him out of the shadows.)
I love Game of Thrones. Just catching up on the fourth season now. Have you seen Fargo yet?
“Unknown meth addict” looks a bit like Randy Travis if Travis had pursued ‘phetamines instead of the bottle, doesn’t he? I can relate to your post, Scott. I developed a pain syndrome after contracting multiple bouts of shingles. Now I can’t tell if I am getting a new episode of shingles or if is the old pain that is acting up. I never know so I pop anti-virals prophylactically. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. The slightest amount of stress triggers it. Sometimes a laugh will trigger it. Sitting on my ass doing nothing will trigger it. Maybe I should get off my ass and explore the virtues of exercise. I’ve had an epiphany!
Oh my Dawkins Elizabeth, now that you said it I can see it. It goes to show that the things you love really do kill you.
There is a woman at the gym who is going through the same thing you are, although to a lesser degree. I know that the exercise does seem to help her physically and especially psychologically. I don’t believe in the grander claims of the power of positive thinking crowd, but I do know that stress causes most conditions to worsen and that exercise dramatically decreases stress. Also increased endorphins produce amazing pain relief… that WHY our body produces them to begin with. So yes, try it.
I’m so glad you commented.
You are a godsend, Scott and a very wise man.
This is honestly the very first time in my life that I’ve been somebody’s godsend. Wow, I feel almost holy!