vagina heart

I don’t have a vagina.

Surprise!

And so I should never try to compare any pain I might experience with the pain of childbirth, at least – and especially – not in the company of those who happen to possess a vagina.

Vagina owners do not like to be told that anything compares with the pain of pushing a camel through the eye of a needle.

Just as I will NEVER know if a GOD or SUPREME POWER really truly exists, I will NEVER know the pain associated with pushing camels through eyes of needles. It’s the burden I carry for having an XY chromosome structure.

I suppose the best I might do someday is to attempt to squeeze out a kidney stone … a small boulder scraping its way through a slender urethra is kinda like jamming a baby out of a vagina, don’t you think?

…………………..

kelowna marathon 2015

At 7:30 am, orange-tinged early morning fall sunshine snuck a peek over the Okanagan hillsides.

A fresh dewy scent of Ponderosa Pine trees filled the chill air, masking the chemical scents floating around the long line of Porta-Potties. Modern Porta-Potties smell so much better than the foul, fetid contraptions from years gone by.

The sight of a couple thousand enthusiastic runners in their happy, colourful spandex had my heart beating fast but joyfully.

I ran a half marathon last weekend in Kelowna.

CORRECTION: I attempted to run a half marathon.

Attempted? Sorry, let me take you back in time.

Just 13 days earlier, I was being attended to by ambulance paramedics after I decided to walk off a cliff in the early evening darkness i.e. my home’s raised patio edge, with nothing but air and some vertically oriented boards between me and the ground …

It hurt like a Son of a Bitch… I like to think it hurt like giving birth to a Son of a Bitch … but remember, I don’t have a vagina, so I couldn’t know that.

And it continued to be painful. It took a week before the yellow and blue and black bruising tattoos surfaced like continents rising from the seas.

IMG_7461

I’m always on the lookout for messages and lessons I can learn. (How about the lesson of not stepping into the abyss at night!)

This bruising event taught me a lesson about internal strength. Dealing with pain is far more than a physical acculturation to contusions, bruises and cuts.

Pain is a short word with big meaning. In all its forms, it’s a creature that requires a monstrously huge mental component to overcome, or sadly sometimes, to just tolerate.

Cancer patients know this better than anyone.

Fibromyalgia patients know this.

Crohn’s and Arthritis and Gout sufferers know this.

Pain is a life test.

Each time we suffer a significant hurt or an injury, a worry, an anxiety, we go inside ourselves and talk internally about how we’ll manage the next few seconds, the next five minutes, the coming five days.

Pain is tough stuff and it’s up to us to make our way through it all in a way that each of us, ultimately, deals with alone.

I had to push past the physical hurt – the searing pain in my legs and bum – while moving towards my goal of running a half marathon in less than 2 weeks.

I was in pain. It hurt to sit, it hurt to get up from a chair or bed, it hurt to walk. It hurt to sit on the toilet. Thought to self: consume a liquid diet so you can stand to pee for 2 weeks.

Pain is a learning and building process. Pain tests us and makes us stronger to withstand tough obstacles.

There’s a utility cupboard filled with ways of dealing with pain: deep breathing and meditation, numbing medication, distractions like activity or games or music, watching or reading funny stories …

And for me?

DISTRACTION. GOALS.

In my case, I found the “carrot on the stick” approach was my pain saviour.

Who is the carrot and who is the stick?

Who is the carrot and who is the stick?

I’m very goal-oriented under normal circumstances, but with the object of my affection i.e. a half marathon run, in just 2 weeks, I needed to push myself to recuperate … quickly.

Each day following my bumbling tumble, I worked to push myself a tiny bit further through the discomfort that ordinarily would have kept me bedridden. I love my bed, so spending more time there would have been a treasured reward.

After 3 or 4 days, I was able to walk/shuffle about 200 metres up my road. It hurt a lot, I said terrible words inside my head, but the carrot was still dangling.

If I could just add a couple hundred metres of movement each day, maybe… MAYBE… I could run the race.

At the end of the first week, I was slowly walking about a half mile at a time. By now, the bruises were beginning to surface, which was a colourful, satisfying distraction.

I massaged the bruised areas. I used a roller to help work out the stiffness and break up the bruising. I cooked myself with hot packs. I Arctic-chilled with ice packs. I hot-tubbed and let the water jets massage me.

Four days away from race day I was able to slowly shuffle/run a half mile on the treadmill.

I could “run”. PROGRESS.

Managing pain is all about mental toughness. I could feel my mental toughness muscles growing.

Two days away and I “ran” a full mile. Just 12 more of those and I’d finish the half marathon, time be damned.

I smiled to myself. I can do this I said to myself. Or, at the very least I can shuffle to the start line with the healthy multitudes and give it my best shot.

On THE day at the appointed time, I stood in the sunny, cool Okanagan air next to my Boot Camp workout buddies Cara and Margot … the ones who teased me weeks earlier about sharing the first 100 metres of the run together before I took off ahead of them.

We joked around and sang Oh Canada … then the gun sounded … the expensive-runners clad crowds moved forward like cheerful swarms of geese flying south.

Within 100 metres, Cara and Margot pulled away leaving me behind with their smooth running strides while I grimaced and shuffled.

I was smiling outwardly as the pain rippled inside. The first kilometre was nasty, brutish, painful. I couldn’t stop. Not yet …

The bottom line? The final result?

I pulled out at the half way point of the half marathon… 10 kilometres of uncomfortable shuffling and dragging my impatient, bruised legs left me a touch disappointed. But just a touch.

But really?

I was ecstatic inside to run 10 k. on a beautiful, mild fall day with the sounds and smells of the race and the crowds surrounding me. I was moving and doing what I love to do.

My pain was the result of a dumble (dumb tumble), a momentary unthinking act on my part.

Someday in the future, I’m sure to experience pain again.

Pain that may be far worse than I could ever imagine.

Pain that perhaps only vagina owners truly know.

But for now, I’ve learned a life lesson about myself and I’m gonna be grateful for that, even if I don’t have a vagina.

John Vagina

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