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When I know one of the few people who have actually read my book Wake Up With Fleas, I am always interested in their favorite part or their favorite character and I am always surprised by the answer. As the author, I developed an affection for some of the characters and thought that a few of the plot twists were especially clever, and it’s interesting that most of my readers have different takes.

The same is true with this blog. Occasionally I will post something that I don’t think is worth much (like my pity party about missing my high heels) and I’m surprised at the number of “hits” or comments I get.

It’s fascinating to me that people who have the same experience, e.g., read the same book or see the same movie, will have very different reactions to it or perceptions of it.

In my line of work, communications, perception is reality. A person or company’s reputation becomes the accepted truth, regardless of whether or not there is a real basis for that perception.

So if people react differently to the SAME experience, how different are their reactions to DIFFERENT experiences? I would surmise that there is a great variance, not only because the experience is different, but also because the perceptions of the people are different.

I think that the pain experience is a prime example of this.

I have had at least one surgery a year for the last several years. Last year it was shoulder replacement, the year before it was hip replacement, this year, it’s rotator cuff surgery (at least that’s all I have planned for the moment!). So I am no stranger to pain. There is a certain amount of pain going on before you have surgery to correct it, then there is the surgical pain, and finally the pain that gradually fades as you recover.  For me, something has to hurt pretty badly for me to complain about it. But is this because I have a high tolerance for pain? Or is it because of my exposure to such a large range of pain over several years, my perception of minor aches and pains is different?

Pain is a consistent topic on most RA blogs because, let’s face it, having RA hurts. But the manner in which people describe their pain varies greatly. It seems, to me at least, that people who have been dealing with the disease for a longer period of time are more factual, while others tend to be more descriptive. The “I had to take XYZ pain pill for the pain in my joints,” as opposed to, “It hurt so bad that I …”.

Is there a real difference in the pain or is it the perception of the pain?  The first time you hit a certain pain threshold, it can hurt terribly and be scary. The second, or third, or tenth time you hit that threshold, it no longer holds the same terror because you’ve come to know what to expect. It still hurts as bad, but your perception of the pain has been altered. Surgery pain doesn’t scare me because I’ve come to understand that the worst I’m going to feel is right after surgery and after that I’ll start feeling better. (Or at least that’s the plan.)

So how do you perceive yourself and your disease? If you perceive yourself as disabled, are you? One only needs to look at Stephen Hawking and wonder at the definition of disabled. Step back and take a look at your perceptions — not only of your pain and your disease, but other perceptions such as toward the people around you. Your situation may not be able to be altered, but your perception can certainly be changed.

Hoping you have a pain-free day. Thanks for checking in.

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