DISCLAIMER: I realize this is a “Community Perspectives” column and what follows is more of a Person’s Perspective column. Please adjust your expectations accordingly.
When you attempt to describe a person, adjectives usually come easily. Take me for example. (I’m sure my family often wishes you would.) I have been described as enthusiastic, loud, happy and loud. Shy and withdrawn will seldom be words used to illustrate me, nor will quiet. However, the quality I am least likely to ever personify is stoicism. No, that’s not strong enough. I will never be described as stoic. You know why? Let me spend this column telling you.
To quote Daffy Duck in one of my favorite Looney Tunes cartoons, “I don’t like pain. It hurts me.” That pretty much is me in a soundbite. If I experience any pain of nearly any sort, many people in my immediate world are going to know about it. I am not afraid to complain, vehemently and repeatedly. I have never been credited with having a stiff upper lip.
When I was in high school, the two middle fingers on my left hand were slammed in a car door. I was with a couple friends and when I looked down at my hand with the blood and the fingernails hanging off, I immediately started screaming. It hurt like nobody’s business and I was nauseous looking down at my hand. If anyone attempted to come toward me with a washcloth or similar, I just screamed louder. My dad arrived to take me to the emergency room and told me to get a grip or there would be trouble. A grip was temporarily found until they had to put a shot into each of my fingers to deaden them and the screaming recommenced. I think the shots hurt even more than the slamming.
Then there was pregnancy. When I went to the first prenatal appointment, I told my obstetrician that if he wanted to give me the epidural now, at the first trimester, to prepare me for labor and delivery, that was fine with me. He demurred. Every single appointment thereafter, I reiterated my position on pain medications and made sure it was highlighted and in bold in my chart.
I will save you the details of the labor and delivery of Will. Suffice it to say, it hurt. A lot. A lot a lot. As it did with Nick. They were worth it. Most days. However, I have a strong aversion to voluntary pain. I’ve only allowed it three times — pierced ears and two children. That’s it. No tattoos nor additional piercings will ever be performed on this body. Fine for others, I just can’t do it.
My brother broke his big toe clean off at the knuckle playing sand volleyball on Saturday. Just typing that makes me want to hurl. I saw the photo of the toe before they bandaged it and I nearly projectile vomited. In case you were wondering, they reattached his digit; he has a cast and not enough pain meds. But the time between the toe breaking and surgery is the crucial part of this story.
If you are around when something happens to me involving my own blood gushing, bones bent or broken, or similar horrors, put me to sleep. Not like a veterinarian! I need to be anesthetized, not euthanized. I am unable to handle any of the above happening to my body and keep it together. You will hear me screaming not just in neighboring states but definitely the Midwest and possibly as far as the East Coast. No one wants that. Put me under immediately upon the terrible thing happening, fix it, load me up on pain meds and wake me up. Everyone involved will thank you for this mercy.
Stoicism is an admirable trait. My husband, mom and many bronc riders are true stoics. Yay for them. I am a wuss, pure and simple. The great news is that my luck has been holding for nigh on 51 years. I have not broken, and barely grazed, any part of my body to date. I think it’s because the universe knows what a complete baby I am doesn’t want to deal with it. Fine by me.
Amy Albrecht is executive director of Center for a Vital Community.