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Day By Day: Not all pain is the same, but a pain just the same

I am in pain as I write this so I can't be held entirely responsible for what follows. I threw my back out on Sunday and if I could have thrown the rest of my body after it I would have. But I am hoping complaining about it will bring some relief.

I am a real wuss when it comes to pain. I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it, let alone actually experiencing it. I come from better stock than that. My dad, a farmer all his life, has a tremendous tolerance for pain. He was always treating himself for cuts and kicks and whatever, a lot of the time with things the vet had left for the animals. I remember a particular time when he got pulled into the belt of a grain elevator and his leg was seriously cut up. Dad just pulled out the pine tar, slapped it on and proceeded to get the oats into the granary.

I don't think my mom was quite as stoic but she did have eight kids -- that's eight labors and eight childbirths followed by months of sleepless nights times eight again. That's pain no matter how you look at it.

Like everybody else, I did something small and insignificant to bring this all on. I bent over to roll up a throw rug and "pop" it happened. I could feel it as I tried to straighten up. I knew immediately that this was the kind of back pain where most of me would be here and my butt would be in another zip code. My husband used to suffer this affliction frequently and I always struggled not to laugh as he toddled by leading with his shoulders followed distantly by the rest of him. My own image has to be funnier if only because it is bigger.

The irony of this happening now is that I was just talking, well maybe bragging, that since I have started to exercise lately, I may not be losing tons of weight but I am certainly in better shape -- sleep better, have fewer aches and pains and generally get to my full height within minutes of rising in the morning as opposed to the old days when it took until noon. And of course it happened on the weekend, the weekend of the Corn and Chicken Feed no less. The only good thing about being bent over like this is that it is the perfect position for inhaling multiple ears of corn but I felt too nauseous to risk it. You can thank me later.

No, pain is something I avoid at all cost and when I can't do that, I whine about it. But it's not just physical pain I find annoying. In some ways this bout of real pain has taken my mind off the other kind -- the events, people, and circumstances that can only be described as a serious pain in that part of me that is bringing up the rear these days.

I won't go into the obvious pain in the butt things like the incarceration of Lindsey Lohan or the pathetic Mel Gibson or the seriously awful yet none-the-less annoying gulf oil spill. I am pained when news programs devote valuable air time to the likes of Mel and Lindsey when there are serious issues to report and investigate. (Is it me or does that Oksana chick look a lot like the Octo-mom?)

As the election season gears up, the campaigns will surely create some discomfort. And what makes it worse, most of what we are forced to listen to concerns Minnesota races. Thank god for caller ID - take that robo-caller.

But some of it we bring on ourselves, like the guy who wrote one of the letters to the editor last week. He appears to be blaming President Obama for all the dissent in the country. Forget the fact that a majority of Americans agreed that he was the better choice for president but everything that is wrong these days is his fault -- I don't think so and it pains me that a segment of the population thinks that way.

I'm well aware of the problems in the country -- a big one is sitting in my dining room every day looking for a job, trying to find a way to pay for college and keep the cars running. (It should be noted that he lost his job during the last administration.) I am pained that at 59 my very capable and experienced husband can't find a job but I don't blame the president. Actually I kind of blame my unemployed guy -- he was the one who kept saying for years that a "correction" was coming -- that greed was driving us and there would be consequences. Well, here we stand "corrected."

The thing is that despite the long list of people the letter writer described as at odds, what pains me is that he doesn't see the value of the discussion these people are having about issues we Americans have put off for way too long. We need to talk about race, poverty, education, don't ask, don't tell and immigration if we are ever going to find a solution to the problems they present. And isn't that the goal - find a way to work out our differences. That only happens when people respect one another's different opinions and stop seeing the other side as the enemy. That's the way it is supposed to work in this country.

We got into this mess together and together is the only way out of it. We have a long way to go -- now that's a pain.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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