Habits of Pain

Kage Baker didn’t like taking drugs. She felt it blurred her edge; and unless blurring her edge was what she wanted to be doing – as sometimes it was – she didn’t want to take anything that just incidentally melted her brain.

Consequently, she’d rather suffer pain than take a pain killer, even one as mild as aspirin. She always insisted on waiting to “see if it goes away on its own.” Which it never, ever did, of course – I learned how to treat pain with accu-pressure and massage, because she would not take pills. Even in her final days, it took the argumentative skill of a Caesar or a Cicero to get Kage to take a pain pill. Sometimes I felt like Cato the Elder instead, fruitlessly hollering at the Senate to please do something, anything,  about Carthage …

I honestly think she only took the damned meds because she knew it would soon make no difference. Stubborn, stubborn woman.

Me, I can tolerate a high degree of pain – but I’d rather not. Pain sucks. Its only virtue is in its ebbing, and I do not believe it has any practical use at all. It doesn’t build character, it doesn’t teach you patience, it doesn’t assist your mind to a higher level of consciousness. Algesis is not an aid to spirituality unless you’re a masochist. Put that in your pipe and poke it in your eye, Teilhard de Chardin!

My kidney decided to kick up again tonight. It started during a showing of The Avengers; which, I must admit, was wonderfully distracting. What a great film! I challenge anyone to succumb to any physical or mental discomfort in the face of such splendid heroics. Especially while watching Hulk imbed Loki in a tile floor, like a huge green cat tossing a horned mouse around.

Anyway, after the movie it became obvious the kidney was in full cry. What this is (this time) has not yet been determined – scar tissue, stones, the old kink rising from the dead? A plague of little razor-clawed hamsters? Who knows? Not me, not yet; but I had an ultrasound yestreday, from a charming little girl who looked like a pea-pod faerie and had the pressure capability of a boa constrictor in her dainty little arms. I think she etched my ribs. That may be what has set the miserable kidney off tonight … I’ll find out next week.

My dear little doctor, though, is not one of those physicians who believes pain is good for you. She gave me a prescription for Percocet should the pain resume – and I’ve taken one, and whoo wee! I can’t even feel my waist or flank, let alone anything nasty in the vicinity. There’s a nice cotton candy and velvet void where an hour ago it felt like Prometheus’ liver-eating eagle had moved in.

Of course, my mind is dissolving. Kage was right – pain killers that work also eat your brain. But in some cases, like vicious demon-possessed kidneys, it’s worth it. I am going to eat leftover Chinese food and watch a couple of episodes of I, Claudius, and luxuriate in the absence of pain.

Tomorrow, when my mind comes back on line, maybe we’ll talk about The Avengers. Kage loved super-hero movies. She’d have liked this one immensely.

But for now, my damned kidney is apparently dissolving in chocolate syrup. Oh, lucky, lucky me!

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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4 Responses to Habits of Pain

  1. maggiros says:

    And somehow, bad brain and all, you still make me laugh. And I totally agree.. There is no especial virtue in pain except to tell you there’s something.wrong. And when you know that, really, it could stop. The cotton candy and velvet–both of which I like way too much–may keep you from doing anything useful, but so does the pain, and the pain, y’know, hurts! Take care, my girl.


  2. Tom says:

    Teilhard thought pain brought enlightenment? I never got that far with reading him, though he was a great hope of mine.
    I’m sorry to hear you’re having issues again. Time for this to stop.


    • Kate says:

      Tom – de Chardin didn’t recommend pain, but seems to have felt that pain willingly borne could open the mind to change and maturation. An aspect of martrydom, I have always thought … anyway, I don’t agree.

      Kathleen kbco.wordpress.com


  3. babedarla says:

    I’ve never been a big fan of pain relievers either…well, I have no problem with ibuprofen or acetaminophen but stronger things I don’t like…until I had shingles a few weeks back! Still didn’t take the “hard stuff” during the day, but when it was time for sleep, oh, you betcha!


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