Write what you know.
Sew all your experiences into the stories.
Until I come upon a scene where I need to stretch my knowledge and rely on previous fiction to be able to explain what’s happening.
Violence and brutality is so current in books and entertainments. Game of Thrones obviously is one that springs to mind instantly, Spartacus, The Walking Dead, The Revenant. I’ve recently completed Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy which is the closest book I’ve read that emulates the zombie/vampire apocalypse movie, filled with violence. I recently saw the trailer for the new season of Daredevil – holy hell!
It’s everywhere! We are used to seeing and reading the dramatic ways characters die or become injured, we just take it for what it is. Now I know some of this violence is for entertainment purposes; think Arnie breaking henchmens’ necks in True Lies. My chiropractor does something similar to me, and it feels amazing, and I don’t die. So no judgement towards choreographed violence at all, it just makes me wonder where the research comes from in being able to explain how the characters are meant to respond to pain. Is it simply universally credible and accepted? Or do people who have happened to go through a similar experience, read/watch certain scenes and think…naahhh.
It got me thinking that if I haven’t been through it, how can I give it justice when writing about it? The following are excerpts taken from interviews I conducted with people that have gone through different experiences of physical pain. I asked them to be as descriptive as memory served to really get a thorough idea of what they were going through at the time. To protect the identities of the interviewees, I’m not including their names or the recount of the whole story; keeping in mind it’s not about the event, it’s about the pain.
Disclaimer: These experiences are individual and unique and may be different for other people. Given the full story is not being told, please do not pass judgement; it won’t be tolerated.
The person explained that the severity of the cane differed depending on the transgression. Talking in class or parents not signing off on homework was a ‘whack on the palms with the long cane’.
I remember standing in a line while that teacher stood at the door hitting one student at a time. Everyone for some reason believe warming your palms would result in less of a stinging sensation and the burning would be less pronounced.
It was like overcoming a fear such as taking a slide and going down it for the first time, you take a breath, it happens and it’s done.
I asked the person to explain the pain.
A sharp pain, followed by burning. You’d wring your hand, as if the sudden jerky motion would expel the pain and heat. [The pain lasted] about 2 minutes, not that long.
Fighting in class or disrespecting the teacher or lying, or being rude you got the actual cane. Or a belt. The canes varied from thin long ones to thick stocky mother f*ckers that left blue marks on your back side. They’d get their body behind the whack on the ass, trust me.
[The big cane was] more pronounced, more wholesome if you like. You felt them for a lot longer. I was terrified of them. And that bruised if he really hit you hard. Belts stung, went red and then disappeared.
We stuck together against teachers; they seldom broke us or got the truth from us. But that was usually peer pressure accompanied by an ass whipping from mates if you told on them. You had to cop the punishment administered on a group for one person’s actions quite frequently (laughs). And even the most docile, good willing students did because better than getting their face punched in by a class bully.
One day I decided it would be a good idea to hide the teacher’s cane to avoid it. When no one would own up to who it was he came back with a stick he found outside with thorns, and he hit us with that. [It felt] like a cane but being punctured…but I don’t think we ever told him where his cane was.
Severe Back Pain
We had been moving house for approximately two weeks and had done a lot of heavy lifting of furniture and white goods etc. which had made my back sore but not in a chronic way.
While at our new house I was carrying our new puppy when I stepped down the uneven stone steps on the back veranda and missed my footing. Instead of letting go of the pup I clung on to him and landed on my backside and wasn’t able to get back up.
I remember somehow getting into the car but could only sit on all fours in the backseat whilst being driven to the doctors where an MRI confirmed I had damaged the L5/S1 area of my back and the disc had bulged.
The damage was done and I experienced unbelievable back and leg pain and numbness all the way to my left foot, I had terrible sciatica pain on the left side and had very little feeling in that leg and could not lay flat on my back, I had to raise my knees to relieve the pain.
Over the next few months I tried recommended pain management plus epidurals to try to shrink the bulging disc which unfortunately did not work.
My condition worsened to a point where I wasn’t able to walk properly, often resorting to getting around on all fours and eventually spending 3 months in a wheelchair before having to undergo a discectomy where they also discovered fragments had broken off and lodged in the L4 area of my spine.
Chronic back pain is something very difficult to explain until you’ve experienced that level of pain.
I am not a fan of taking pills but you have to somehow manage chronic pain which includes taking very strong medications which cause what I can only describe as a ‘brain fog’ and being an active person, this period in my life is one I never hope to repeat!!
I was fortunate to make a very good recovery and am lucky enough to lead an active life with only minimal pain. If I sit or lay down for too long this causes my back to seize u. Moving and keeping a healthy weight is definitely the best medicine.