A man clutching his side in pain while people talk all around him

Tone Deaf to the Pain

I’ve been living with leukemia for a little over a decade now. To see me, you’d probably think I’m doing ok. I mean, I’m not one who likes to complain much. There are times when it comes out anyway, though.

No matter how stoic or strong or battle-hardened I’ve become, pain will find a way to be heard.

Pain makes itself heard

I was lying on the couch watching some Netflix with my hubby. The bone pain was collecting in the joints. It was like a needle being inserted in my elbow. It hit hard and fast and then ached. I bit my tongue and focused on the show. Doing well, I thought.

I think I'm controlling the pain I feel

Out of the blue, my hubby said, “You’re moaning hun. Are you ok?”

I didn’t even hear myself! I didn’t even know I was doing that! My body let it out. I wasn’t conscious of it. Creepy.

I was driving with my daughter in the passenger seat. My stomach began to turn, I forced my lunch back down and concentrated on the road. “ Wow! Sounds like you’re about to hurl!” and my daughter handed me a tissue.

I'm making those noises?

Those noises seemed to be outside of me, on the road somewhere. That was me? Gross.

I was at work and in the staff meeting, my spleen felt like a rock. It felt as if it was bulging out of my ribcage. My left side was heavy and hurting. As it was my turn to speak the words came out loud and screechy. “Wow!” said my coworker, “you’re really passionate about this!”

I wasn’t at all. The words just came out of my mouth that way. I must've sounded like a starving seagull! Embarrassing.

Connect with others: What is your experience with pain?

The benefits of recognizing pain

I truly believe that recognizing pain has helped me to address the underlying issues. If I masked the pain how would I know what to treat? So maybe I let it go on longer than it should. Who knows?

What I do know now is that it finds an out. It finds a way to be heard. It makes its presence known.

I’ve heard it said that tone and body language can make up to 90% of our communication.  Pain can affect my posture and the way I gesture. It can literally be hard to speak and what I say may look really different on the receiving end than the way I intended it to. Pain can make it easy to misunderstand me. It can make communication really challenging.

When things come out the wrong way this is when I mutter, “Sorry, that came out wrong.” But why did it come out that way? Because it went through pain to get out and pain changed the sound of it along the way.

Pains impacts tone of voice, posture and more

I mean, when we are in pain our voice tone can sound guttural, mean, angry, or frustrated. We can sound pensive or depressed or nervous. Communicating through pain can sound way different than communicating without pain. Add a dash of fatigue and it is a wonder we're verbal at all sometimes.

For my part, I am often tone deaf to how I sound when I am in pain. There are times I don’t even realize that I am vocalizing at all. It just happens.

An “arrgggh” here or a “pffft” there and maybe a “grrrroooooan” along the way for good measure. I'm not all that grumpy, I just sound that way. Eck.

I was wondering if my fellow blood cancer patients felt this way too. Let me know in the comment section below. Thanks so much for reading.

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