Friday, February 5, 2016

Block 3, Week 2: It's not pain, it's pressure

"It's not pain, it's pressure." This is one of the hilarious things I've heard health care providers say, and I've heard it said A LOT. It's like one of those dumb things that falls out of your mouth when you're confronted with something awkward -- like pain or discomfort or bad news. The first time I heard it was when I was in labor with my second kid. I had been in labor only a few hours, which was somehow a HUGE inconvenience to the nurse and the obstetrician. I was pretty sure he was about to be born any minute, but they told me that was impossible because it should take a lot longer since my first delivery was a cesarean, and everyone knows your first natural birth takes FOREVER. So ten minutes later when I was holding my newborn son, I felt a lot of justified smugness at how much they didn't know about my body and how much I did. But before he was born, the nurse told me not to push because they weren't ready, despite how I had insisted it was going to be VERY SOON and oh by the way, OW. This is when she looked at me and said, "Oh, it's not pain, it's just PRESSURE." WHAT?!?!?! I think I said something about come here, let me set YOUR nether regions on fire and add a little lava for good measure, or something like that. But by that point, I had decided they knew nothing about having babies because everything they had told me up to that point had been at least questionable.
So it seems this phrasing is pretty popular to use in labor and delivery, because I've heard it many times since. I used to snort and roll my eyes, but it has become quite the mantra for me lately. No, I'm not having a baby, and I'm not about to make this another Medical School is Hard post, because we've established that quite firmly I'm sure. The problem with slogging through something difficult is translating difficulty into something painful. I can't point to any part of my body and say that I am experiencing pain. So I guess, it's NOT pain, it's just pressure. I guess if pressure becomes too difficult, you might start experiencing some physical manifestations of the stress response that can become painful. So the goal then is to deal with the pressure in a way that doesn't create a physically painful situation.
This week has been difficult, as pretty much any other week has been really. However, I noticed that I was not dealing with the pressure very well, which led to insomnia, headaches, and other health issues that I'd rather not discuss here. The problem is not the pressure so much as it is trying to carry all the pressure internally and probably the salty rage that starts building as a result. So I made an appointment to talk about it, and while it didn't fix everything, I feel like I'm on the path to recovery. I sat down yesterday and made a plan to get through the rest of this block. I have a planner, and I've actually mapped out what I need to do to stay on top of things.
So, I guess if you're having trouble balancing all the things, and you're starting to crack under the pressure, find someone to share it with. Sometimes just talking about it can put it back into perspective. Be careful about who you talk to, though. Sometimes you can talk to someone about your struggles, and they aren't equipped to be sympathetic and they can actually burn you down further. That isn't helpful, and if you experience that, be more selective about whom you turn to for comfort and advice. Not everyone is helpful. You can probably figure that out without too much trouble.
Anyway, hopefully my mental health post is helpful for anyone who is struggling. If what I'm going through helps anyone else avoid some of the pitfalls I've fallen into, it will be worth the struggle. Party on, dudes. And be excellent to each other. *air guitar*


  1. Just stopped everything to pray again for you and for my favorite classmate of yours!

  2. You are the best Val . . love you . . YO' DADDY! :)