Physical pain

This and That
“This and That”
Blogging in Paris


Mon Dieu, préservez-moi
des douleurs physiques.
Je m’arrangerai avec
les douleurs morales.

Milt at Milt’s Muse, whose blog was mentioned in the New York Times, together with Time Goes By and Octogenarian, wrote about pain, and his reaction to it.
It brought me back to lots of memories and thoughts that most of the time, I’d rather not think about. But sometimes, it’s useful to think about such things, because, they are with us, and they will come back, for sure. Ever since I was a little girl, I have been what they call in French ‘douillette’. When looking for the word in the dictionary, I found ‘soft’, which I am not sure is exactly the same thing. Basically, it’s a pejorative word, which means that you can’t take pain.
Well, I can’t take physical pain, and I don’t see any reason why I should if it can be avoided. Plus it’s all very well for other people to decide what you can take and what you can’t.

Iremember the doctor who decided that I could take the pain when I gave birth. They had promised me an epidural and finally decided I didn’t need it. Why? Because I put up a brave attitude, was very polite about the whole thing and refrained from screaming. After quite a few hours of being polite though, I figured I had had enough and started screaming and then, suddenly, THEY couldn’t take it and did give me pain-killers.
That was the time when I decided that I wouldn’t be polite any longer. When I go to a doctor’s or to hospital, or the dentist’s, the first thing I say is: “I have to tell you that I am over sensitive to pain”. And I find that this helps. This way, doctors take my pain into account and in saying that I am oversensitive, I think I’m giving them a way out of thinking THEY are hurting me.

When I went through radiotherapy a couple of years ago, I did find it very painful after a few days, my skin was burning, but also found that by telling the operator that I was scared and ‘douillette’ he paid more attention to me.
Pain cannot be evaluated by other people. Only I know what pain I experience and if I can take it or not.
Hospital staff have to be able to take our pain, so a lot of the time, they act as if it didn’t exist, just to protect themselves, and I can understand that. But I found that when I expressed the fact that I was hurting, it helped me, and maybe it helped the people who took care of me treat me better.
I am just going through Paris for a day and am off to the south of France until Sunday, but reading Milt’s post, I figured I had to write this down while I thought of it.
I might come back to it later on.

The quote is by French writer Nicolas de Chamfort,
Mon Dieu, préservez-moi des douleurs physiques. Je m’arrangerai avec les douleurs morales.
My quick and inadequate translation: God, please keep me from the physical pain. I’ll manage moral pain on my own.
The three blogs mentioned in the NYT article are on my daily reading list 🙂
Incidentally, I hadn’t noticed the first time, but you can also hear Mort’s voice in the NYT article. I couldn’t get the link to the audio right, but I really like being able to listen to people’s voices.


6 thoughts on “Physical pain

  1. Thanks for sharing the links… I don’t know if I am “soft” or not but I find the lack of support for dealing with pain is depressing. I will have to try your suggestions.

  2. Im a “softie” too. I like that word “douillette” but here in New York they wouldn’t know what I was talking about!

  3. Don’t know how the approach to pain management is elsewhere, but there has been increased emphasis and awareness in areas of the U.S. to effectively deal with the issue’ is ongoing.

    In our area of So. Cal, medical staffs in various settings from skilled nursing to hospitals receive pain management training, use smiley face type charts to depict gradations of pain. These pain level graphs can be easily shown to any patient, but are especially helpful for those who are unable to adequately verbally describe their pain level, then medication can be administered accordingly, IF the physician orders a prescription for same.

    Generally, nursing follows up on the pain management. All professional staff interacting with patients are expected to pay attention to every patient with whom they interact, report pain management issues immediately to nursing, or may do so directly to the physician when they have contact. I see this happening in settings to which I have had access.

    I can only wish for you, Claude, and Milt, any others in pain, whatever their tolerance level may be, that continued communication efforts repeated to your medical caregivers will result in your pain being relieved.

    The more progressive attitudes toward pain management in recent years has included a recognition, acceptance by most medical professionals, of the importance of minimizing a patient’s pain, that fear of addicting patients with pain medications has been proven invalid with various patient administering research studies.

    If pain management enlightenment has not occurred where you live, then I would strongly encourage people to become vocal to medical personnel in all medical settings, press local news media to explore the issues, just bring pressure to bear, before, but especially whenever you need pain management. Check out any written materials on the subject, print them off the Internet, go armed with your documentation to confront your medical caregiver.

  4. oh dear… over sensitive. I guess you will never get a tattoo or a piercing? 🙂

    I had a piercing done last December in Chile and it damn well hurt. Good thing I am not over sensitive to physical pain. it’s the emotional variety that hurts me the most.

  5. hi Claude,

    we’re opposites!
    The weather is slowly starting to be liek spring,. it has been cold and windy and cloudy for ages! Good thing I had great time in Chile.
    I am dying for some warmth and sun!

    are you having a good time in Normandy?

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