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A Not So Painful Life

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Pain is a fellow-traveler, a necessary if unwelcome component of the human condition. Les Bloch considers our life-long companion.

My hands hurt. I’ve been working with porcelain. My right ankle spikes when I’m running. My mother whispered to me, late into her 92nd year, “You don’t know how much it hurts.”

We all experience pain. Steph Curry’s ankle goes in and out. Lindsay Vonn's knee screams silently during every slalom. And the UPS driver’s back reminds her it’s only noon.

The use or abuse of drugs, alcohol and opioids is rooted in this human condition. We all share pain. The difference between someone who reaches for a pill, or a drink or puff and someone who doesn’t is our intricate negotiation with our bodies, our moral take on painkillers and our nerve endings refusing to reason.

If almost everyone alive feels some pain or another, then the proof of life requires us to feel it. Children born with a congenital insensitivity suffer injuries because they can’t feel the heat, the strike, the puncture or blow. Reconnecting them with pain is the only thing that will keep them alive. Others, with constant, nagging, overwhelming pain are consumed by the tsunami from their own bodies. Life seems too long.


So what do we do? No one wants to hear us complain. Get over it. Suck it up. Keep it to yourself. We hide our pain, deny it even to ourselves with the hope that it will disappear, knowing that it will raise its nagging head again. A graceful animal with a thorned hoof must deal with this natural fact of life. Pain and our ability to grasp its meaning remind us, that we are alive, that our nerves are still working, even in ways we don’t wish them to.

My hands will feel better. I will use them again and again, to play music, to hold my wife and grandbabies, to pat my father’s frail, bony shoulder. I will run. I will appreciate pain’s absence and accept its next visit, knowing what it’s trying to tell me.

With a Perpsective, I’m Les Bloch.

Les Bloch is a construction manager in the East Bay.

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