Tag Archives: Pain

Ode to a Gallbladder

9 Feb

Well, as of yesterday morning, she left me. My gallbladder, that is. We had a close relationship for almost 57 years, practically inseparable, but she “done me wrong.” I loved her, though. She helped me to digest fried chicken, fried catfish, fried oysters and French fries. If you’re a praying person, pray that I will be able to live without her, and that the anesthesia and post-surgery pain medications make me forget she ever existed. The day prior to my surgery, I recorded this song as my way of saying goodbye to my gallbladder.

Now, you may be thinking…this is a blog by a person who has XLH, so how is gallbladder surgery related to the XLH theme of this blog? I guess it’s not exactly related. However, as a person who has for years tried to live on only over-the-counter pain medications rather than stronger prescription pain relievers, last night after the surgery and today, I’ve enjoyed the side effect of the Tramadol they prescribed for me, that side-effect of having very little back pain and knee pain. Nice!

Thanks all for your good thoughts and kind words for the post I wrote a couple days before my surgery. So far, so good, as I embark on a new gallbladder-less life.

Copyright 2017, S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries. All rights reserved.


Pain Scale

22 Jul

Have you heard of the pain scale? When you report to your doctor that you have pain, he/she will usually ask you this question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever had, how would you rate your current pain?” If you’re a person with XLH in the U.S.A., you’re probably familiar with the pain scale.

Professorgrrl says that whenever her father went to the doctor about some new pain he was having, and the doc asked him to rate it on a scale of 1-10, he always said 10, so that he’d get the most help available. He believed he wouldn’t get enough help or medication if he only gave it a 5 or a 6.

My understanding of that pain scale is that I am supposed to compare my present pain with the worst pain (a #10) I have ever felt. My grandmother once told me that childbirth was the worst pain she had ever felt. It was so bad, she thought she would die. I asked her why she went on to have three more children after that first time, knowing full well it was going to hurt. “You forget how bad it was, ” she said.

I clearly remember my worst pains. I’ve never given birth, so I guess I’ve had it easy, but my #10’s haven’t been forgettable.

1980’s- I had to have a dye injected under my left kneecap so that the orthopedic doc could get a better idea of what was wrong with my knee. Mercy, that hurt. I probably teared up for that. I’m pretty sure the needle was the diameter of a pencil.

1990’s- I had an abscessed front tooth. I wanted to die. No pain meds helped and one of them made me very sick on top of that. A bad few days. Really bad.

Last week: I had a diagnostic mammogram (or “slammogram” as I like to call them). I had one of these last December too but I think the technician last week had a sadistic streak. The more calcifications and density you have in your breasts (my sister is convinced I’m mummifying) then the more “technique” they apply with those machines. I am not lying–they actually used the phrase “apply more technique.” Lady, you apply makeup; what you did to me last week was to torque down on that gear knob. I get to have another one in six months. Woo hoo.

Yesterday: I picked up the water hose sprayer to go fill up the bird bath. Between my hand and the sprayer was a hornet or wasp or some other evil pollinator. I am shocked at how much that sting hurt! I yelled while applying ice and baking soda. My beagle was afraid of me because of the racket I made, yelling, cursing and stomping my feet. It still hurts! It only feels bruised today, but wow, I am stunned that a creature that tiny could hurt me (a level 10 pain) like that for a full 10 minutes, and then still hurt the next day. Thankfully, it was only 10 minutes of #10 pain, unlike childbirth.

That is my list of level 10 pains on the pain scale, those pains by which all my other pains are measured. Thinking about those #10’s, my other regular daily pains don’t seem so bad today.

How about you? What are your #10’s? Besides childbirth, of course.


Sage Bumble Bee
The bumble bee doesn’t seem to be very aggressive. Probably not the perpetrator from yesterday.
Honey Bee
The sweet little honey bee. The first time I ever got stung was by a honey bee. I was about 3 or 4 years old, and picking flowers to give my mother. The bee sting really put a damper on that experience. But for her, I’d pick flowers again.
A wasp, mooching off the hummingbird feeder. Very high on the suspect list, in my opinion. Grrr…
Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2014. All Rights Reserved.


29 Mar

It’s not unusual to see healthcare articles about the treatment of chronic pain in adults. I have thought about the subject of pain quite a bit recently, due to reading some online discussions of that topic. Adults and children differ in their ability to handle pain, in my opinion.

I imagine a child who climbs a tree, but falls out of it and breaks her arm. Obviously, she’s going to hurt from that! She would cry, run to the house and look for her mommy (or other parental figure) for comfort, and have to go to the doctor. “Bless her heart,” is what we Southerners would say. The child would get treated at the doctor’s office, get some pain medication, and get a big ol’ cast on her arm. She would also get a lot of attention from the doctor, nurse, parents, grandparents and friends. The child would obviously feel actual physical pain from this fall and subsequent break of her arm. Her crying is most likely due to the actual physical pain of the event so treating the pain is straightforward. She probably isn’t going to think, “Oh, no, I’ll never get a date to the prom in ten years because I’ll have a crooked arm from now on.” She probably won’t worry about the cost of the pain meds, cast and sling and doctor’s visits. I doubt she’ll think, “I’ll never be able to get a summer job working at the Myrtle Beach Putt Putt because this arm will never be the same. My job options are now limited.” She’s a kid—she just feels the physical pain of falling out of that tree and breaking her arm. The only emotion she might attach to this event is a short term fear that her mom is going to be really ticked off that she climbed that tree against her mother’s wishes. That fear will probably dissipate once she sees that her mother is going to comfort her and take care of her rather than bawl her out for disobedience. (That will come later.)

This isn’t usually true for adults. With physical pain, especially chronic pain, there comes a huge range of emotions. I believe that this is the main reason why doctors simply cannot treat adult pain effectively. All the pain meds in the world won’t stop an adult from worrying about what this pain they’re dealing with means for their future health and financial status. Adults don’t just feel the physical pain—they worry about it affecting their quality of life. Young adults, with diseases and disorders that cause debilitating pain, worry about things that most people take for granted. “How will I work and feed my children? How will I hold my child or pick up my child?” Pain is not just a simple problem that can be “fixed” with some pills, a doctor’s visit and a hug and a kiss from mommy. Middle-aged adults with chronic and/or debilitating pain worry about many things—losing their independence, becoming disabled, not being able to find meaningful work, not being able to walk their dogs or pick up their grandchildren. Single adults with chronic and/or debilitating pain might fear that they’ll never find a date or a spouse because of their physical limitations. Let’s face it—people who can ski, bungee jump, and run marathons are way more exciting and make better life partners, right? Right.

A while back, a friend wrote to me to tell me she was going through a very rough time. She told me that she had decided to tell two people what she was going through. I was one of the two she chose to tell. At first, I questioned the wisdom of her only telling two people. I worried that maybe she should tell more than two people, thinking that telling more than two would give her more support. More is better, right?

However, within 12 hours of my friend telling me what she was going through, I happened to mention to a person a little bit about my XLH. I normally don’t discuss it but I did, casually and mostly in medical and scientific terms. This opened the door for this person to respond with a very stupid comment, stated with great confidence, which made the comment even stupider. (Is that a word? No? It is now.) It left me feeling very vulnerable and irritated.

Suddenly, I realized my friend was right. Tell two people. That’s it. Are you feeling like crap? Are you in pain (physical and/or emotional)? Tell two people. That’s it. That’s plenty. Don’t add to your pain by telling so many people that your chances of getting a stupid or insensitive response are increased tenfold.

Be selective. Tell your spouse or best friend or a clergyperson or a professional therapist. Tell your online support group if you have one (yeah, I know that’s more than two people, but it’s only one “telling” of it.) You can also tell God. If you don’t believe in God, then find yourself a “Wilson” to tell. (Watch the movie “Castaway” if you don’t know who Wilson is.) Even if you tell just two humans, there’s still a chance that someone might give you a stupid response. (My friend told me, and she knows I am capable of stupid responses, but I’m glad she trusted me anyway.) The last thing you need to do is feel even more vulnerable in addition to the physical and/or emotional pain that you’re already experiencing.

So, my “advice” (which should always be taken with a grain of salt, remembering that I’m not a therapist or doctor, merely a blogger with XLH) is to treat your pain (physical and emotional) in a multifaceted way. Medication might not completely take away physical pain in adults, in my opinion. We have to deal with the emotions that come with it—the worries, fears, sadness, grief, loss, etc. Tell someone or two (okay, three for you extroverts) about it either in person or by writing, if you’re a part of an online support group. There are people who will be compassionate listeners.

And, just because I like to throw in a photograph or two in my posts, I’ll tell you another thing my friend told me. She said she doesn’t like to look at herself in the mirror when she’s had a crying spell. I sure know that feeling! My face looks like I fell into a bee’s nest when I cry—red and splotchy and puffy. I really try to avoid low hanging mirrors when I cry, which is about twice a year, so I won’t see my splotchy face. And next time I cry, I have found just the place to do it—a recently renovated restroom at a college where I work. Eat your heart out, tall people.

Bathroom mirror

Just for your information: this mirror goes all the way up to the ceiling in this bathroom, but the bottom edge is, obviously, too high for me to see my face. It’s a good thing I’m not vain. Who designs these bathrooms? Why does the mirror extend all the way up to the ceiling but not down to the sink? For the life of me, I don’t recall ever seeing a 7’ or 8’ tall person at this college, who might need a mirror like this.

Copyright 2014-2019, S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries