Is It Better to Know the Pain Is Coming?

I have a rerun of a medical procedure scheduled for next week. The first time I had it done, the medical professions assured me ahead of time that it would be no big deal and so that’s what I planned for. I went to the doctor’s after work (even though it meant seeing someone other than my usual provider). I planned to go to the gym after (What? They said it was no big deal!) and I had not arranged for a sub the next day at work.

Except it was a big deal. I didn’t get back home until late. Not because of the gym, but because I had to keep pulling over to vomit from the pain. I ended up teaching from a rolling chair for the next week, kicking myself every day for not arranging a sub the night before. I was still on the meds prescribed to me post-divorce, but even those weren’t enough to provide decent slumber for a few nights.

It was a terrible few days.

I learned from that experience (especially after reading that it’s a common one). This time is different. I will take Advil before the appointment. I couldn’t secure a ride, but the office is now closer to home and I’ll make sure my stomach is empty. I have already arranged for a sub on the next day and I have a few pain pills left over just in case.

So, I’m ready. But I’m also anxious.

The first time, all of the agony was on the back-end once the pain hit.

This time, I’ve transferred the agony to the front-end. Which means I’m ready. But I may be stressing over pain that won’t be as bad as I fear.

So is it better to know the pain is coming so that you can prepare even though the anticipation of the pain is often worse that the pain itself?

Or is it better to be blindsided, caught unprepared and bowled over by the pain yet blissfully unaware before?

I’m not sure about the answer. But right now, in the pre-anxiety, I’d happily trade for happily ignorant.

Related:

I Was Lucky

Pros and Cons of a Disappearing Act

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8 thoughts on “Is It Better to Know the Pain Is Coming?

  1. For me I think it’s better not to know ahead of time.

    Regardless of whether you know or you don’t know, you still have no choice but to endure it. In some cases (like childbirth for me), that process of surviving it means that all the higher order mental functions that separate us from the animals just stop. So although I’m in pain I’ve lost the ability to think about my pain and my situation; I’m in complete tunnel-vision mode. It’s only afterward when the human part of my brain has returned that I look back on what I experienced and shudder – in some ways it’s worse to think about it than it is to go through it.(*)

    If you know ahead of time, none of the above changes; however, this time you have all the anxiety ahead of time on top of it. You can’t really enjoy your last few hours / days before the pain really begins.

    (*) All that being said, the only feeling in the world that makes you look forward to labor is the feeling of being 9 months pregnant. πŸ™‚

      1. Well, I think it’s more like you want pregnancy to end so bad that the thought of labor doesn’t bother you because at least at the end of it all the pregnancy is OVER. πŸ™‚

  2. Surgery/Medical pain – absolutely
    emotional pain – maybe as I know that I for one would have done a few things differently with everything I have been through the last 12 months. Especially last month.

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