Jewish World Review Oct. 28, 2002 / 18 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Kristen Twedt

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Consumer Reports

It pains me to tell you this | Pain hurts. That's what my philosophical son once announced after a most unpleasant hospital procedure. He screamed so loudly, icebergs shifted and clans of silver-backed gorillas began beating their chests from the Western Lowlands of Africa.

I like to be comfortable. I don't care for unnecessary exertion, hunger or a full bladder. I joined a fitness center and discovered that treadmills are G-d's way of punishing us for overindulgence in ice cream. I envision svelte little she-devils perched atop the rubber handgrip, laughing at my attempt to burn off last week's half gallon of Chocolate Seduction. I may be fat, but buddy, my fat is the best-conditioned blubber on dry land.

Whoever coined that obnoxious phrase "No pain, no gain" should have to hoof it for eternity on one of these machines. I have plenty of pain. My back, ear, and neck are killing me from an old injury, a flare up of tendon, muscle and nerves that elucidates Mike Tyson's need to bite ears and throw chairs. I bet he has a bad back, too. Not that pain excuses Neanderthal behavior, but when you hurt, a natural tendency is to hurt back.

Pain is invisible, unless you've mastered the contorted face that my kids display while doing homework. Too often I have been silently absorbed in my suffering when my children require a verbal response. I tend to answer as quickly and decisively as possible. This behavior has enormous negative implications. "Mom, is it okay if I invite half my class to an overnight slumber party for pizza, dancing, manicures, and elephant rides?" my fiendish daughter will ask.

"Yeah. Sure. Whatever. Now, Mommy has to get back to grinding her teeth." Misery loves company? Mine doesn't. I say leave my pain and me to our devices. Try focusing on a conversation when your ear feels like a spiny, fire-breathing crustacean has taken up residence on your tympanic membrane. You're never sure what you just heard or what you've agreed to, but you are more than happy when your subject finally decides to shut up.

Humorist Kel Coleman Potter shared her singular experience with painkillers and muscle relaxants. "I had big love for everyone," she recalled, wistfully. We both agree that the big love can lead to a big need. I figure I'm already addicted to ice cream. The pill I could REALLY use would give me "big love" for that blasted treadmill.

Pain is an unavoidable part of injury and conditioning excess fat. I try hard not to lash out with teeth or fists. Blessedly, the discomfort inevitably recedes and I can forget what it's like to want to climb out of my skin. However, if you see me eyeing your ear lobes and practicing my upper cut, the last thing you want to ask is "How are you?" Mike Tyson-style, I may decide to inflict a little pain of my own.

Comment on JWR contributor Kristen Twedt's column by clicking here.


© 2002, Kristen Twedt