Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is Pain Real?

Next time you stub your toe or whack your knee on the edge of the coffee table or the dashboard, pay attention. I don’t mean pay attention to prevent the accident in the first place. That’s probably smarter advice than I tend to give, but instead, pay attention to how you react.

I noticed recently that when I smash my elbow into a doorway or do some similar clumsy act, I scream inside. Sometimes I hop around and grimace but rarely do I ever yell out loud.

And I’m not the only one. So why do people do this? Wouldn’t it make more sense to draw attention to oneself during this painful state so that others could provide aid? One might think we don’t cry out for fear of embarrassment but I did some research and there’s a different reason. Scientists say we don’t shriek in distress because pain is all in our heads.

Okay. If you’ve ever birthed a baby, I know what you’re thinking: pain is REAL you fool! I remember the time not long when my son accidentally punched me in the groin. I hit the floor. And yes, it hurt. And no, I wouldn’t let someone drive over my foot to test this theory but hear me out, okay?

I don’t fully understand the science behind this but think about it this way: does any physical pain hurt more the second time than it did the first? Probably not. Our brains apparently develop “neural pathways” so each subsequent time we experience similar physical pain we cope differently, usually better. Furthermore, our minds will suppress pain during threatening situations so we can escape. Essentially, pain doesn’t have to be painful. Therefore, if pain is just perception, why do we have to feel it at all?

Okay, that’s a tad deep, isn’t it? However, here’s something else those wacky scientists have determined: swearing alleviates pain. Like a dog yelps when you step on his tail, for many people (especially those in maternity wards) a carefully chosen expletive can do wonders for pain and stress.

Whoa. I just realized how much money I have squandered on various pain medications over the years....


Hmm. Suddenly I feel better.


Chelle said...

When I stub my toe or say, face, I generally contort my body into that of a chicken, do the inverse 'jazz hands' or 'worried schizophrenic' (so that my palms are facing me), inhale violently through my nose and say "fffffffffffffffffff". Sometimes it is followed by, "Ithinkmytoenailisgoingtofalloff *gasp* didmytoenailfalloff? WELL LOOK AT IT!!

Also sometimes, I can say things that cause my children to immediately age 25 years and start smoking upon hearing them.

It seems to help.

Chelle said...

Also, I see that you're going to Disneyland. Yay! Make sure and take pain medicine. I swear. You can't get anything better than advil over there. Take your gravol and your robaxacet with you from home. You won't regret this.

Also, at California Adventure, they have margarita stands (Praise baby Jesus). The catch is that they will only sell you two per day unless you are good at convincing them that you're someone else. You'll need some disguises, is what I'm saying. It's like they don't want to have drunk Canadians stumbling around Disneyland looking or their kids. Psh.

Chelle said...

I know about these tricks, because when I took the kids 3 years ago, my tooth broke in half as soon as I got to California adventure. I was not going to drag my family to a dentist in LA somewhere, so I decided to self medicate and deal with it. I managed to get 6 margaritas out of the same stand in 4 hours. I swear it would have been easier to buy marijuana in Disneyland. Anyhow, good thing my Mom was there and so was Neil, they also bought their margarita limits for me.

I don't remember the 4D Bug's life movie, except that I thought it was hilarious.

dbs said...

Packing for trip:
more advil-check
margarita coupons-pending
inverse jazz-hands (because I can't learn to appreciate hurtling through space in a flying death trap driven by half-pissed pilots)-check
potty-mouth to scream at my kids while on the vacation to the "greatest place on Earth"-check (my wife takes this everywhere)

Chelle said...

Another tip: Book the character breakfasts. I realize that your children are pretty much middle aged, but it's not about meeting the characters. It's about getting to have breakfast that isn't at McDonalds, and getting to have it in under 5 hours. And getting to have something besides powdered eggs in grease or McDonalds Pancakes. Breakfast in Anaheim is an issue. Also buy cereal and milk and put it in your hotel fridge.. The Character breakfast restaurants have the kickiest-assiest breakfasts of all time, anywhere in the world.

Chelle said...

They are like buffets full of magical genius. Particularly Goofy's kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. Highly recommend.

Alittlesprite said...

Sometimes I hit my knee or something, and even though it didnt hurt in the slightest, I still say "OW". Also it may have a bit to do with the object GIVING you the pain. For me, I scream like a baby if I need to do a finger prick blood test, where as, sit me in a tattooists chair for two hours, and I'm a happy Gal. Alot of it IS just in your head.

dbs said...

@Alittlesprite I agree but at the same time my wife wants me to push a baby out of my body so I truly get the concept of real pain.

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