Pain Concern

A little bit of respite (or what Pain and Me did on holiday)

Packing suitcases, Pain digs its claws into my shoulder and shoves two fingers in my ear.

“Whatcha doin?”

“Going on holiday,” I say, trying to flick it off me.

“Oh yes!” Pain punches the air and punches me too for good measure. “I love a holiday!”

“You’re not coming.”

“Says who?”

“You don’t have a passport.”

“Don’t need one. There’s no law that says Pain has to have its own passport or identity. It steals other peoples. I can travel on your passport, in fact if you look carefully at your photo you will see me etched into your eyes.”

I make a mental note to write a stiff letter to the relevant authorities on my return. I stuff a small arsenal of pain relief into my hand baggage, hoping it won’t break the weight limit.

“Hah! Come off it, it’s a holiday, “Pain snorts. “A long drive to the airport, lugging heavy bags about, a couple of hours cramped up in a metal tube – if I’m lucky there’ll be turbulence so you can’t get up to stretch – seven nights on a dodgy sofa bed, twisting to get suncream on your back, and bending to wash the sand off your feet in the bidet... It’s Pain Heaven. I will be there.”

I check Easyjet’s website but Pain is not amongst the list of items you can’t take on a plane.

Pain whinges all the way to the airport. “Are we nearly there yet?”



I think I give Pain the slip at Check-in as it doesn’t show up past Security. I spot its miserable friend Migraine scurrying across the departure lounge in my direction – “Yoo-hoo!” it yells, lobbing dizziness in my direction. But I just put my sunglasses on so it can’t recognise me amongst the crowds and it wanders off, bored.

Pain must get in someone else’s luggage and accidentally fly to the other side of the world. It doesn’t show up all holiday. Even the mosquito bites don’t hurt. Pain’s annual leave allowance must be better than mine as I’m back at work and it’s still absent. But then again, it’s self-employed and doesn’t play by anyone else’s rules.

For 12 days I bask in the novelty of being a normal person. Each evening I go to bed and feel so very lucky that another day has passed without You-know-who turning up. I wonder a little about why it’s gone – I’ve had plenty of holidays where it’s hitched a ride and been a nightmare, and this holiday is no different in terms of activity levels and opportunities for relaxation. I decide it’s a waste of time analysing it all and just enjoy it instead.

Pain turns up eventually, a bit jet-lagged, and snores from deep within my neck. It’s the physio who awakens the devil properly, and it’s like everyone else that doesn’t want to be back at work after a nice break – really grumpy and unhelpful. It hasn’t even brought me back a straw donkey or some dangerous local liquor as a present. It says it doesn’t need to because it can induce nausea without the need for alcohol. If that’s not enough, Migraine is squatting inside my brain again and is being rather vague about how long it might stay.

The physio hints that we’re coming to the end of the road with the treatment, and Pain claps its little hands together quite spitefully.

You know that feeling when you walk back in to your house or office or school after some time off ? It’s like I’ve never been away at all, and I just need to get on with it all again.

4 Replies

Excellent explanation of pain.

Shame the good pain free time you found on holiday didn't last long.

I remember from years ago, one of the many alternative therapists saying that pain develops a habit - in that its present in the same form in different situations. So going to work may cause one type of pain, going on a bus another. But it is always there when you do those things.

The body may have recovered, which your holiday suggests it has. But because you feel pain at work, then thats what your body does because its always done that- make pain while you are at work. It's a bit like the brain can't keep up and reprogram itself - you're body is sprinting and your brain is walking a half marathon. Your holiday is where the sprinter has lapped the walker and they are trundling along together for a short while.


That's a really good way of looking at the pain - I know mine is sparked off by trigger points acting up when they are stimulated, so if I'm doing certain activities they are going to have a field day. If I'm at work or working hard at home (which is still work 90% of the time) I am usually on a mission to get things done so I block out the pain as much as possible and carry on regardless, all the while letting those trigger points fire away.

As the summer holidays come to an end I get that "back to school" feeling (still - I left school donkeys years ago!) and an excitement about starting afresh. So I have begun to look at some realistic ways of looking after myself better, both body and mind. I would love to run but I'm just not built for it / don't have the time etc so I'm going for a simple goal of just parking a bit further away from work and walking a little more. And I am beginning to cultivate the art of enjoying 10 minutes here and there of doing nothing sometimes.


Enjoyed your post.

May you be creative at giving pain the slip more often.


Lovely post, I am sorry pain found it's way back through customs but you made me smile with the images you cultivated. Thank you so much for sharing.



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