The International Women’s Day is about equality! And since I am both a women and a spaz I guess I ought to say something about that. There is so much to say and so many large-scale political issues to tackle. One of them concerns pain. Gender biases are impacting the treatment of pain. As documented by Hoffmann and Tarzian research indicate, “women are more likely to be less well treated than men for their painful symptoms”. This is obviously something that needs to be handled and it requires attention towards gender biases in a variety of social relations and institutions.
As you might have noticed I have begun “thinking out loud” about the embodied experience of living with multiple sclerosis and with pain. The methodology is quite unclear, but I will log instances in which the disease manifests as more than a routine part of my life. I will try to log it online because it is transgressing my sense of privacy and, hopefully, making me aware of what happens when ruptures emerge. The topic of this episode of #mybrokenbody is pain, when pain is experienced as more than pain, and maybe even when it becomes an affective rupture or microevent.
In the spirit of the International Women’s Day I would say that I have grown into a place in life in which I am comfortable in my body. It might be a spaz body, but I like it and I feel comfortable in my own skin. Therefore I am trying to detect what happens when the pain disturbs my comfortable body relation, gets to me, becomes unsettling and more than an ordinary part of life.
The two worst symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis is, for me (MS manifests differently in each patient), pain and fatigue. My pain is both acute and chronic. I have a symptom called “Lhermitte’s sign”, which involves stabbing, electric-shock-like sensations that run from the back of the head down the spine and I have chronic pain, which can feel like aching, prickling and needles, and my back generally hurts like shirt. It is annoying, but I am used to it, and life is pretty awesome.
For a week or so I have had an increase of pain (probably because of a common cold, which can make MS symptoms flourish). Again, this is a tad annoying, but business as usual. However, the last two days I have had stabbing pains in my left breast (this is when self-ascribed self-representation becomes even more awkward). The fact that the pain was suddenly located in the breast was unsettling. The pain became too intimate and intrusive – I don’t want to be the awkward person at a meeting grabbing (or at least thinking about it) her own breasts to deal with fucking neuralgia. But I also became annoyed at myself for being annoyed at the pain, because it made me reflect on my ideas of appearance – on the fact that I despite of all of my critical theoretical training still care of appearing as “a normal healthy woman”. I am comfortable in my own skin, but the intrusive pain in the breast reminded me that I have to acknowledge that I also have a disability and that value must never be about “passing as normal”. Who is normal anyway.
Pain needs to be recognized by institutions, but certainly also by individuals.