...and other painful things.

I have always been confounded at how pain thresholds fluctuate from person to person. For example, I am continuously in awe of those women who give birth to their children, whether in a hospital or from the comfort of their own homes, and never even ask for an aspirin, let alone an epidural. When I was in labour, both times, I wasn't even through the doors of the hospital before I was demanding that little needle full of liquid gold. Once that tiny tube was taped firmly to my back, everything looked prettier; everyone seemed nicer. Even more perplexing, was how, even in one person, pain thresholds fluctuate. For example, when I get a migraine I head straight for the medicine cabinet. I can't handle headaches, not at all. However, until my THRs, I never took anything for my hip or back pain. Is it mind over matter, habit, insanity?

I have also realized that the ability to withstand high levels of pain does not discriminate by age. My son has always had a high pain threshold. Not in a freaky, research study type of way. He's just a tough kid. Of the many sports he plays, football is his favourite. Many, many times, I have witness unspeakable tackles that would make most grown men wince and all mothers weep. After such hits (whether giving or receiving), he just jumps back up and gets back in the game. Last summer, during the first day of a 3 day football camp, Aidan got injured. He was running and felt some pain in the back of his leg and was told by one of the coaches that he had just tweaked a muscle in his behind. He continued with the camp and, by the end of the last day, was in noticeable pain. As it turned out, Aidan had a torn hamstring, and spent the rest of the summer recovering and healing.

You would think that, knowing this about my son, I would clue in to the fact that, when he says he's in pain, he is in pain. Well, one day, Aidan and his sister were running around the house, having some fun. After some time of this, he came to me with tears in his eyes and said he had hit his toe on something. I looked and saw a tiny puncture at the very tip of his big toe. I followed him to the scene of the crime, scoured the carpet, and found a very small piece of metal. I told him that he must have just punctured his toe on this so we put some Polysporin on it and he went to basketball practice. After 2 hours of practice, he came home and went to bed. At 3 am the next morning, I awoke to find Aidan standing at my bedside. "Mom, my toe really hurts". "Go put some Polysporin on it and go back to bed". "OK". Well, the next morning, Aidan's toe was twice its normal size and the colour of a nice, ripe tomato. My husband and I immediately took him to the hospital. The on-call Dr. looked at the toe, said it was infected, and was prepared to send him home with a course of antibiotics. Have you ever had a moment of clarity, maybe even a moment of intuition? I did and asked for an xray. To her credit, the Dr. indulged me and ordered one. After waiting what seemed like an eternity, Aidan and I were called into a tiny, little room to look at the xray. What I saw made my knees wobbly and my stomach woozy. There was an inch-long piece of sewing needle embedded in Aidan's toe. You could even see the eye of the needle, as plain as day. All I could do was hug my son and tell him how sorry I was. We took him home and catered to his every need.

To this day, I feel a sense of guilt over what happened (occasionally afraid to answer the door in case it's Social Services). However, Aidan has quite a sense of humour about the whole situation. When he went back to school, he took the needle (which he asked for) to show all his friends and teachers. When anyone hurts themselves now, Aidan will tell them, "just put some Polysporin on it, right Mom". Every time I look at Aidan or his sister I know that I would gladly suffer any amount of pain for them. To be the Mom they deserve, I would have as many hip replacements as necessary; I would suffer the searing burn of nerve pain; I would even go back and give birth again without that liquid gold, without even an aspirin.

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