By Dave Stancliff
I’m a whiner when it comes to pain these days.
Seems like I get a new pain everyday when I wake up. I can strain a pinkie doing something stupid the day before, and the pain will greet me in the morning like an unwanted in-law seeking to move into my den.
I try to take solace in the fact experts say my habit of cracking my knuckles when I was young didn’t cause the arthritis that I currently suffer. They say cracking my knuckles was simply forming - then popping - an air bubble in my synovial fluid. That’s the gooey stuff in the cavities of your joints.
I have a lousy left knee. It crunches when I walk. When I had it examined and the word surgery came up, I decided it still had mileage left despite the near constant pain. So I wear a brace - sporadically - and whine for all to hear as I lumber along.
I just read an article about a sugar solution injected into the knee for pain relief.
The technique - known as dextrose prolotherapy - has been around for 75 years but is still considered an "alternative" therapy. If I used this method for pain relief I’d probably get sugar diabetes! Alternate pain solutions have produced problems for me in the past and I‘m gun shy of shooting myself in the foot again!
Seriously, I do look for ways to alleviate my pain without taking meds. I use relaxation techniques and dieting. I’m careful not to twist my back when I bend over and pet my pug. Basic stuff. I use the cane when my right leg goes totally numb, as it will after I stand upright for long periods of time. Comes from nerve damage in my back.
If I don’t resort to the cane after a certain point, I look like Big Bird on a binge!
I’ve discovered that whining can feel good. People pay attention and you might even get babied for your efforts! If you’re really lucky, they offer to get whatever you want, and are happy to run to the store for your favorite chocolate peanut butter ice cream!
I just have to remember to be wise in my whining ways. Too much produces the opposite effect of what I want. Everyone disappears suddenly, and I’m left to lament in solitude. There is a fine line.
I whine about bruises. The darn things pop up out of nowhere on parts of my body that barely got bumped the day before. If it’s a really dark bruise I display it as proof that I have a reason to whine. “Look at this dear,” I tell my wife, displaying a dark spot on my forearm. She patiently nods in sympathy.
I don’t know what good it does to whine when I hurt. When I was younger it was the last thing I would let anyone know. Heavens no! I was way too tough to let on I was human. Especially in the Army.
Age does something to a person however. As I settle into my sixties, all the abuse I subjected my body to is coming back to haunt me like old competitors on steroids! Decades of basketball are partially to blame for my pain, but excesses like jumping off roofs of houses when I was in elementary school, contributed to the overall breakdown of my body.
Pain comes home to roost in older birds like me who didn’t take good care of themselves. I lived hard, played hard, and still play hard even when it hurts! In that I don’t have any regrets.
I’m in my so-called Golden Years, I’m gimping around like Popeye on pot, but I’m lucky to have a wife who’s understanding and will listen to my whining without wanting to see me lose my voice!
I was talking with another fellow my age the other day and we did a dueling banjos thing where I would whine…then he would…then I would whine even louder.. and he would.. Well, you get the idea.
As It Stands, they say humor is the best medicine, so I try to remember to laugh after a good whining session!
(This column originally ran in The Times-Standard in June 2013)