In Stephen King’s Needful Things, Polly Chalmers has arthritis, and she is going out with the Castle Rock sheriff, Alan Pangborn. On pages 162-163, we read the following about Polly’s thoughts regarding her arthritis and its impact on her relationship with Alan:
“She had actually taken three [pills]—-two in the morning, one in the early afternoon—-and the pain was not much better today than it had been yesterday. She was afraid that the tingle of which she had spoken [which indicates improvement in her condition] was mostly a figment of her own wistful imagination. She didn’t like lying to Alan [about her pain]; she believed that lying and love rarely went together, and never for long. But she had been on her own for a long time, and a part of her was still terrified by his relentless concern. She trusted him, but she was afraid to let him know too much. He had grown steadily more insistent about the Mayo Clinic, and she knew that, if he really understood how bad the pain was this time, he would grow more insistent still. She did not want her…hands to become the most important component of their love…and she was also afraid of what a consultation at a place like the Mayo might show. She could live with pain; she was not sure if she could live without hope.”
I can identify with some of this. In the past, there have been times when I have been reluctant to tell people about physical pain that I was experiencing, for I did not want to be hounded, nagged, or inconvenienced. I also didn’t want to go to the doctor. Some of this was because I was afraid that they’d make me worry more, and I figured that what I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me. But I also dreaded the medical costs.
I have desired, though, for people I trust to tell me that I’m all right. When that happens, my physical pain usually dwindles. I think that my worrying about my pain often causes me more problems than the pain itself. Placebos would work on me!
But I’m not making an absolute statement here. There are times when pain is real and is serious, and a person then should probably see a doctor.