Different Flavors Of Pain

There are many kinds of pain. There’s the welcome kind that comes with BDSM play. When skillfully administered, this pain will eventually produce an endorphin high. This state is frequently referred to as “Sub Space”. Recreational torture isn’t the only way to attain this endocrine high. Runners get it after a long, exhausting jog. Hard physical labor can also produce it. Initially, when the pain starts it may not be fun, but as the brain chemicals catch up the sensations actually start to feel pleasant.

Then, there’s chronic pain. Many of us suffer some of this. It’s that unrelenting ache that just won’t stop. Intensity can range from annoying to debilitating. A great deal of opioid dependency arises from trying to manage chronic pain. Mrs. Lion suffers from some aches in her joints and frequent headaches. She muscles through them, rarely using medication. She has some and will, on occasion use it to help her cope. I’m fortunate I don’t suffer from chronic pain. By rights, my neck should hurt. In fact, the usual reason people go to the doctor and end up getting a kind of surgery I’ll be getting, is that they have chronic neck pain.

In fact when I went for my meeting with the neurosurgeon, I was asked to fill out a form. I can only answer one or two questions. There were 10 or 12 that cover a history of physical therapy and drugs used to manage the chronic pain that supposedly brought the patient to the surgeon.

There’s more exotic kinds of pain. One most of us have experienced is the pain of injury. My most vivid memory of this is how badly I hurt after I fell and tore my rotator cuff. The pain was unrelenting and so severe I couldn’t sleep. I endured it with gaps created by drugs and cortisone shots for six months. Then I got the surgery to correct it.

That brings me to more exotic examples. Surgical pain  is the result of having a procedure done that cuts into the body. There are actually two kinds as far as I can tell. The first is the pain of the actual wound created by the surgeon scalpel. In my experience, this is fairly short-lived. After the rotator cuff surgery, the surgical wound pain was gone after about a week. I’m told that the wound pain from my spinal surgery will be largely gone in 2 to 3 days.

The second kind of surgical pain lasts much longer. This is caused by the insults to the body inflicted by the surgery. It’s hard to generalize what causes this pain. In the case of my rotator cuff surgery, it was related to the stretching and reattaching of my tendon. This pain lasted over a year. Of course, there was much worse for the first four or five months. In my case, I was given opioids to deal with the pain. After only a few weeks, the opioids stopped working. I had a hard time finding anything that could alleviate this pain after that.

I’m told to expect at least two months of neck pain after the spinal operation. Apparently, according to the surgeon, it’s worse for the first few weeks. Then, it supposedly controllable with over-the-counter pain medication. I don’t get any comfort from this. Because I am taking a blood thinner, I can’t use aspirin, ibuprofen, or other similar drugs. They can cause bleeding in the stomach which would be fatal when blood thinners are being taken. I decided to be aggressive about managing this. I’m getting an appointment with the pain management team at the hospital to work out a strategy to support me after my surgery.

In the worst case I’ll stop taking the blood thinners so that I can use anti-inflammatory medication. My cardiologist absolutely opposes this. I am at risk for a stroke if not taking that medicine. This is one of those situations where calculated risk is needed. I’ve never had any stomach problems taking anti-inflammatory drugs, so my risk may not be as high as it would be for others.

There are other kinds of pain such as unwelcome trauma. But I don’t think they manifest differently than the ones I’ve already talked about. I’ve known a couple of people who suffered from horrible, painful, eventually-fatal diseases. They used BDSM pain as a distraction from the much more serious pain of their diseases. Since after my surgery there isn’t any restriction on my motion, maybe we can experiment with the kind of distraction I would get from Mrs. Lion’s skillful spankings. Will I forget about my neck when my butt is burning? I see another experiment coming.

1 Comment

  1. I do manage my chronic pain with drugs. Sometimes, now in fact, they don’t seem to help much. I have also had acute pain. Childbirth will do that to you. Obviously that’s short-lived. When I had a knee ailment that no one could figure out, I was in near constant pain. I assume I’ve achieved a runner’s high when I played soccer. There were many times I had an injury that only appeared after the initial buzz had worn off. I think the problem with pain is that one person’s level 10 is another person’s 4. I have no idea if I handle pain well or not. There’s no way to know if Lion’s 7 is my 10 or 5.

What do you think?