I stick needles into my skin, I shove insulin pump infusion sets into my sides, I rocket-launch CGM sensors into my stomach, I jab my fingers, I unflinchingly hold out my arm for blood to be taken and I roll up my sleeves for my annual fluvax without batting an eyelid.
Needles don’t scare me one little bit. I don’t even feel my heart rate speed up when a needle is coming at me, and although I’ve never checked, I’m sure that if wearing a blood pressure monitor while waiting for a needle to break the skin, there wouldn’t be a blip on the graph.
But other pain? Other pain I don’t deal with quite so well.
This morning, I stubbed my toe on the end of the bed. I collapsed onto the mattress, yelling ‘shit, shit, shit’ ‘ouch, ouch, ouch!’ and then grabbed my foot, expecting to see blood, swelling and possibly a bone sticking out of the skin. The pain was excruciating and clearly, I was about to die. Nope. Nothing. Now, four hours later, there is no sign of this injury that caused tears and swear words that made my daughter give me a warning about using the ‘S-H word, mum’!
I don’t ever recall having been scared of needles, so I don’t think that it’s diabetes that has desensitised me to the ‘pain of the prick’ (not a euphemism). But other pain is another thing altogether. Mouth ulcers reduce me to tears; a sore throat can have me whimpering in pain and headaches make me cover my eyes and swear that I have a tumour because of the agony I’m experiencing. I jammed my finger in the car door not long ago and was convinced that I was going to need reconstructive surgery. (Didn’t even bruise.) Whenever I’m asked what I’d rate the pain from something I always say ‘Ten. At LEAST ten. Does the scale go to eleven? ‘Cause then I’m at eleven’.
So with this in mind, you would think that I demonstrate great sympathy for others when hurt or in pain. But I don’t. I have no compassion for people who complain about discomfort, unless I can see a lot of blood, a cast, crutches, or my mum just after she’d had a double knee replacement (although the feelings of sympathy only lasted a couple of days.) Anyone else; no sympathy whatsoever. Once, after tripping and scraping her knee, my daughter looked at me through her tears and said ‘Just once I’d like you to be sympathetic when I fall over, mum’ in response to my ‘Oops; you’re okay. Up you get!’ (Mother of the year award in the post.)
I wonder if living daily with things that cause pain – even if I don’t flinch – has rendered me completely unsympathetic without an ounce of compassion when others complain. And do I feel that I can overreact when something hurts because I don’t complain about the diabetes stuff?
Whatever it is, I don’t know. But I can’t see myself becoming more tolerant of pain and I certainly don’t think I will ever be caring and kind to others in pain. Instead, I’ll keep moaning and complaining about how much a paper cut hurts me all the while telling others to take a spoonful of cement and toughen the f#@k up. I never promised to be consistent.