I walked into the office about ten years ago and felt a sharp lower pain and nausea. When I saw my reflection in the door, I was surprised at how pale I looked. I pushed the pain away, I had a busy day planned and needed to get a ton of things done.
I had been training for the Marine Corps Marathon in my spare time and assumed that I had been putting in too many miles and working too hard. I promised myself to ease back on my weekend training. I just needed to get to the weekend.
Yea, yea, later
Throughout the morning, my team members, one after another stopped by my desk and told me to go home. I thanked them for their concern and joked that I would sneak out later in the day after I met with my boss. We had been ships passing each other from meeting to meeting and needed to catch up.
The pain and queasiness continued but I pushed them off. Of course, my boss took one look at me and said she wasn’t meeting with me, she told me told me to go home. I protested, but she wouldn’t hear of it. On the drive home the pain got worse, so much so, that when I got home, my father-in-law drove me straight to the hospital. What was wrong: An inflamed appendicitis.
No pain, no gain
I’ve been thinking about pain tolerances. On one hand, I have an extremely strong threshold. I worked until I couldn’t work any longer. Similarly, when I used to run regularly, I challenged myself to stay in the moment, to put the pain out of my mind. I’d make a game of it: push hard up the hill for another two- minutes or for the next five telephone poles. When I hit the two-minute mark or fifth pole, I’d start all over again and again and again.
On another hand, though, I’m as weak as they come. I got my wisdom teeth taken out on Friday. The procedure went seamless. I remember the nurse putting the oxygen over my mouth, the next I remember sitting emotionless in the recovery room, my mouth sore and bleeding.
In my mind, though, you would have thought I had survived a major life-threatening surgery. Yes, I’m one of them! I suffer the big stuff fine, no problems, but the little aches and pains, flus, and coughs, send me over the edge. I’m horrible to live with until the pain goes away and things are back to normal.
Two sides of a coin
So, yes, on one hand, I’m brave and fight though pain, and in the same token, I can be taken down by a little summer cough. I blame my softness on one of my ear doctors when I was a kid. He performed a procedure to help improve my hearing. I have no idea what he did, but it felt like he was trying to kill me. Of course, I was too young to know what was happening. Or what would come next.
The thing that makes it even worse is that my wife is incredibly strong. She works through knee and back pain without complaint. She delivered three kids and not one epidural in sight. And then she has to put up with me complaining about a little toothache!
Yes, she’s my hero.