Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The selfishness of pain

Cheer up, me.
Have you ever noticed how your perception of the world changes when you’re in pain? I raise the point from a specific, physical pain I presently suffer from, but this observation applies to any acute hurt you may experience; be it a broken arm or a broken heart.

Today is identical to yesterday in almost every way. A beautiful autumn sun shines through my bedroom window, the curtains rise and fall as though breathing with the breeze and the air is filled with the fresh scent of nature.

Yesterday I basked in the morning sunshine, happily performing my occupational duties. I prepared myself a fresh coffee and cheerfully offered to do the same for my housemates. The sounds of the birds in the trees and the gentle bustle of the world outside my window tapped out a natural soundtrack for my morning. Any request for assistance from my colleagues was answered helpfully, efficiently and generously. I floated through the day, happy to share my smile with everyone and everything.

This morning I woke to find that overnight, my wisdom teeth had started another charge toward the surface of my gums. Pain is so subjective that I hesitate to paint a picture of comparison but I have snapped my collar bone completely in half, landed on my head from the top of a flight of stairs, had the inside of my knee torn off from a barbed wire fence and had a pine needle lodged an inch deep into my temple — the pain from these dental movements is the worst pain I have ever experienced.

Today, for all the ambient similarities to yesterday, is a completely different day. With the exception of the throbs from my mouth, I am completely numb. The painkillers have removed feeling absolutely -- except for the one place it is needed. The sun through the window makes me squint so I am draped around my laptop trying to shield my eyes. I made myself a coffee and although my housemates were in the kitchen while I prepared it, I did not offer them one. The coffee tastes bitter and burned. The birds in the trees shriek like spoiled children and every sound outside of my window beats in counter rhythms to the blood through my gums. Every request made of my by colleagues and employers appears petty, pedantic or redundant; some of the tasks asked of me are identical to yesterday.

The pain in my mouth is like the antithesis of dust in my eye fluid. As much as I move my eyes to look away from it, the pain sits burning directly in my vision.

I just want everything to bow to me and help me remove the agony. I know I am selfish but the only thing I can focus on is me — and my pain.

Perhaps there’s no such thing as selfish people, just people in pain?

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