in the early years it almost seems like the child had no idea what just happened or how he was supposed to react. the child usually learns right away how much pain he is in by looking at the parent’s expression. we see this all the time; child falls or gets whacked in the head, stands there motionless, looks around, finds an adult with his his jaw on the ground and his eyes popped out from terror…then the drama begins. to make the situation even more overwhelming the adult/parent will run over and asks in a sympathetic voice, “aw… are you alright sweetheart?”. at this point the situation has become defcon 1, it’s all over, prepare yourself for long term, loud ear piercing terrifying heart breaking, ambulance calling crowd gathering screams. i’m not trying to say that the pain is not real, but the reaction to it may be a little projected.
i am greatly aware of this phenomenon, and to outsiders i may seem a little flippant when it comes to my child’s injuries. i usually keep a calm facial expression, or mask it with a triumphal surprise. i’ll walk over if i can, and say something like, “whoa that looked harsh, you gonna live dude?” i try to stay cool on the outside, but on the inside i am, “oh no! oh no! oh no! this is bad, this is really really bad!” when someone witnesses my laisser faire parenting, i am perceived as a cold heartless, loathesome, vile, distasteful neanderthal of a human. this may be true. i am not trying to make my kids ignore the pain, i just don’t want them to feed the pain.
currently i have an injury that was not caused by trauma. it was not caused by a fall, a blow, a gunshot, or anything external. i have achilles tendinitis which was caused by good old fashioned “over use”. it happened on the very last day of my 837Km (520mile) bicycle tour that i did back in mid september. i had some knee issues, and butt issues, but there were no issues from my achilles during that whole week. it seemingly came out of no where. i was devastated when it happened, because i am no stranger to achilles problems. i had achilles tendinitis long ago when i was on the x-country team in college. i lost my two remaining seasons of competition because of it. and now, i am deathly afraid of this injury and the down time it wreaks. from the moment it happened i tried to nurture its cries. i knew that the mild pain was only a prelude to what was coming next. i iced it, rested it, massaged it, and stretched. without failure the great pain arrived. i’ll run or ride my bike a little to test its presence, and each time i do, it reminds me of its great existence.
so i’ve been injury free for about 14 years now. i’ve had some minor issues, like broken toes, stress fracture in the arm, acute knee injuries, but nothing to keep me away from cycling or running for too long. before this period, i would have long term injury after long term injury. even after the injuries were gone, i could still feel them. they never seem to go away.
i attribute my change, to a book i read a long time ago by dr. john sarno, “healing back pain: the mind-body connection”. back then i didn’t have back pain, and i still don’t, but this guy had a very interesting theory regarding pain and the human body. as i read his book i began to see parallels to to my own life of chronic running injuries. i started practicing some of his simple theories and noticed that i could over come little pings and pokes from my legs just by just acknowledging them, treating them and moving on. yes it does sound pretty simple, but the key for me was to not “feed” the pain.
the human body is incredibly resilient. the body can mend broken bones in a matter of weeks, it can heal from disastrous road rash, it can beat cancer, and so much more. so why is it that something as small as a sore achilles can linger around for months? it doesn’t make sense to me given how quickly my body heals from external damage. to be honest, i think my achilles healed about three weeks ago, but the pain i feel is just from me feeding the pain. it was really injured at one point and i treated it, now it’s time to move on.
i may sound weird and unorthodox, but i have to learn to treat my injured body parts like i treat my injured kid’s. so to my poor little achilles who works so hard to get me through life….”you’ll be alright, dude!…now harden the fuck up!”