On an unusually hot and sunny afternoon last week, I was chatting to a fellow dog-walker when I felt an incredibly sharp pain at the back of my head. It was best described as being hit by an air-rifle pellet, or being stabbed by someone using a spike of some kind. I yelled loudly, and jumped forward, quickly turning to see if someone was behind me. The man I was talking to pointed to the space above my head, and declared, “It’s a horsefly”. I have had horsefly bites on my legs in the past, and they can be painful. But this one on my head was much worse, and was throbbing immediately.
I carried on with my walk, and by the time I got over the river onto Hoe Rough, the swelling was the size of an egg, and pulsing painfully. As I type this, I can still feel the remains of that hard lump above my right ear.
Yesterday afternoon, I was stepping into the bath, prior to getting ready to take Ollie out. As I did so, I caught the inside of my left leg on the edge of the bath. It was little more than a glancing blow, hardly even a ‘knock’. Yet it made me shout in pain so loudly, Ollie’s head appeared, to see what was happening. It was really painful, and by the time I was out of the bath and getting dried, there was a bruise appearing, the size of a coin.
I have been lucky so far in life. I have not had to have any major surgery, and have never broken an arm, leg, or even an ankle. There have been my fair share of falls, bumps, and cuts over the years, and I did break four fingers on my left hand in a very bad car accident when I was 32. But whatever injury I ever had, I never thought too much about it, and never once made a fuss.
So how is it that I suddenly have zero pain threshold for things like a small impact on my leg, or the bite of an insect? What changed along the way? I’m sure it cannot just be age, as I know older people who have bravely endured surgery or broken limbs quite recently. Is it my perception of pain that has altered, or can a body actually change how it registers levels of pain?
Whatever the reason, I don’t like it.