Overcome Your Pain Wall
Has anyone else ever had a needle stuck in their eye?
Weird question, I know. But there’s a point, I promise.
I had a corneal transplant when I was 21 years old that went very well and I was healing fine until one morning 6-weeks later I woke up and had a hard time seeing out of that eye. I went to class and still had trouble. I immediately called my surgeon and went into his office. Apparently, I rubbed my eye too hard during the night and 30% of the stitches in the healing cornea came out. I needed surgery again.
Being a bit stubborn, I didn’t want to wait for a day or two to get into surgery and asked if it was possible to get it done now, in his office. I wish I hadn’t asked.
It turns out it was possible. I was given a couple of Advil and told to lie down on a table in one of his office rooms. What ensued turned out to be the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life.
I was awake, barely, if at all, sedated from the Advil, and watching my surgeon stitch my cornea back to my eye. Yes, you read that right. I literally could feel the sharp pain of needles in my eye and realizing I cannot move an inch or something really bad could happen.
As an aside, I give tremendous credit to the surgeon. How someone could have that steady of hands I’ll never understand. But I digress…
I reminded myself of this today on a run where I set a goal of 4-miles while wearing my 20-LB Weighted Vest. First, I hate running. Second, I never have run more than 2 consecutive miles wearing the vest.
So why does this all matter?
It matters because as I was hitting the 2-mile mark I could feel the fatigue in my legs set in (I had just done 200 Air Squats with the vest the prior day) so that was starting to take a toll on me and my feet were starting to cramp a bit. I had every right to stop and pat myself on the back and feel good that I accomplished a PR by surpassing the 2-miles.
But then I remembered the eye surgery and I remembered the pain tolerance I had built up through that whole event. Oh, I forgot to finish the story. After he completed it and it went well, I had to go back 5 hours later at midnight to his office because my eye pressure had risen to a level I can’t explain. I couldn’t even think straight and was puking, that’s how bad it got. If anyone has ever dealt with immense eye pressure you know what I am talking about.
I remembered I had relished taking pain and not having it bother me and using that as a badge of honor to push me through things.
This run was no different. I had to go deep down to help get me over that “pain wall” that I had put up in my head. The one that says it’s too painful, too rough, too hard to keep going. I had to find a way to overcome it and fight it.
My solution is creating a distraction. I distract my mind and divert the attention away from the pain to something else for just a minute until it passes. And then I thought about writing this article and how much the story would suck if I didn’t finish the 4-miles. See, I think the internal motivators are needed as well and I used them strategically when I need that kick of energy.
We all have a “pain wall”. Everyone is different and nobody can compare theirs to someone elses.
Do you break down that wall or stop at it every time you approach it?
Nobody can answer that but you and the only encouragement I can give is that deep down there is so much more pain tolerance we all have and just need to give ourselves that excuse or permission to pull it out. Use whatever method you like or try mine from above but I hope next time you encounter your wall you’ll be able to break right through it and form a new vision in your mind of what pain you can manage and overcome.