Do You Remember Your Worst Pain?

When was your last bad flare? The one that was so horrible you thought you were dying? Do you remember it? Do you remember what it feels like?

I don’t.

Do I block out pain? Growing up, I always internalized stress and rarely felt physical pain. That is absolutely ludicrous because, of course, I’ve felt physical pain. I was a kid once, a klutzy kid whose balance was basically non-existent. I was an athlete who strained herself to be the best. So, why don’t I remember any of it?

The worst pain

Why am I delving deep into psychology? I am currently experiencing the worst pain I think I’ve ever had. At least, that’s how I feel right now.

I was really sick in January and kept cycling through sickness for the last couple of months. My recent IV biologic medication did not work its normal magic so I’ve been feeling pretty low. I wouldn’t say I ever truly flared but I certainly wasn’t my normal 70%.

Then, one morning, I woke up and I couldn’t move. My back was in chaos.

I’ve had a back issue for the last year. My osteoporosis (thank you, steroids!) in my hips and lumbar spine worsened last summer and the pain from it was phenomenal. My back weakened and my body, weaker still, couldn’t bear the extra load.

I started physical therapy and everything was on the up and up. For a while.

The morning I speak of I felt like I had been punched out but the funny thing was it didn’t feel like my spine. True, my entire back was in such agony I couldn’t tell you where the pain originated but it really honestly felt like I had been beaten up.

I didn’t do anything interesting to strain my lumbar region. At least, nothing new – everything I did was an average day for me: I bought the cat litter, I carried the cat litter and I changed the boxes. I also played with Mocha. She’s roughly my size and we like to rough house. I could feel some tension in my spine and my rib cage but I still messed around with her because that was our routine. I fed Affie, I brought her upstairs and we played with Mocha before bed.

I don’t think M hurt me more than usual. Maybe she just hit the sweet spot that spiraled me into a world of hurt? Maybe, it was just too much strain on my back? I hadn’t done my PT exercises in a week because I felt so exhausted. I could play this game forever. If I knew why I flared I would make sure it never happened.

Comparing pain

Now, here comes the fun part. This pain feels like nothing I’ve ever felt, but of course, I know it’s not the worst I’ve known.

This past summer when my back pain was at its greatest I went to the emergency room where they tested me for everything and found nothing. They asked me what was the strongest pain relief I’d ever taken and they prescribed it. “Sorry, you’ve got to take the Vicodin…You don’t really have a choice if you don’t want to be in pain”.

I could describe every second of pain that summer in excruciating detail but my brain doesn’t recall the actual feeling. Do I ever? Do you?

Are we programmed to forget pain (both mental and physical)? Is it a mechanism that humans have developed so they, for lack of better term, don’t hurt and move forward?

Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Comments

View Comments (4)
  • PamelaP
    11 months ago

    I still remember how much it hurt to give 17 hours of labor pain with a child turned with her spine toward mine (they’re not supposed to be turned that way) and no meds at all. It was 1980 and LaMaze was totally the way to go. I remember crossing some indivisable line and turning into the equivalent of an animal, just wanting to do anything to stop the pain. I think that was the worst for me. Emotionally? I have several “worsts” for that.

    RA related, though, February before last (14 months ago) I had unbelievable stomach pain when I had some sort of bad reaction to a “normal” colonoscopy. I hadn’t been home two hours when I had such sharp pains that I was afraid my colon had been punctured. I was in the hospital several days with a fever 100-104 until the lining of my colon became less inflamed. What fun….

  • PamelaP
    11 months ago

    I still remember how much it hurt to give 17 hours of labor pain with a child turned with her spine toward mine (they’re not supposed to be turned that way) and no meds at all. It was 1980 and LaMaze was totally the way to go. I remember crossing some indivisable line and turning into the equivalent of an animal, just wanting to do anything to stop the pain. I think that was the worst for me. Emotionally? I have several “worsts” for that.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    11 months ago

    I was going to say when my 7th grade girl friend decided to sit with my buddy Tim. Yeah I recall that pain. I am sure that was the worst.

    Oh wait you meant physical pain? Actually the worst physical pin was in 2013, when I had an adverse reaction to TNF inhibitors. It was awful. I was in the hospital for a week and was mostly sedated for three days. It was a mess. I will never forget it.

    Now second worst? Did I mention 7th grade?

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    11 months ago

    Eek, that sounds really horrible, Rick. I’m really sorry that happened… I hope they took you off them! I can thankfully say I have not had a severe reaction to medications (yet!).

    Heh…We always remember that one time in Middle School…Though, interesting you mentioned mental pain because I strongly think that it goes hand in hand with my physical RA symptoms!

    Thanks for commenting!!

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