Tasers, Metaphors and Chronic Pain

The Taser like pains raged through my head again. My medications seemed to be less effective as time passed with this permanent and incurable disease of Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN). I told others that it felt like a Taser was shot into my head. People with neuralgia pain will often use this descriptor. I certainly did. Still do. Yet I have never been tased.

I found an article by Sara Miller and James Benjamin written after they interviewed people who had been tasered. “Their comments illustrate an unmistakable truth: Tasers are painful. People shocked by them often call the experience the most painful of their lives.”

If you have nerve pain, you get sudden sharp pains that are incapacitating in the moment. They are the most painful thing you have ever experienced, so Taser seems to be an accurate description.

I have also heard and said, “It’s like being hooked up to a car battery!” I had a pretty extreme shock when I was in high school where I could not let go of the cord to an old vacuum cleaner. I felt such an unpleasant buzz in my body and my teeth hurt for a few hours after the incident. Maybe I felt something like a lower version of a full car battery shock back then?

When the sharp unrelenting spasms happen over and over again in my ear, I say, “It’s like having an ice pick stuck in my ear.” Most of us have been stabbed by thorns or stickers and the end of a knife when cooking.

I do feel more accurate when I describe what happens after an arthritis flare because my skin will feel hot and too tight like after a sunburn. Most of us have had that that burning tight sensation.

How do we share with others what our pain is like?

How do we share with others what our pain is like if they have never dealt with chronic pain? We meet in the center of our words like Taser, ice pick, car batteries and sunburn. Language allows us to understand things we don’t physically feel and lets us have compassion and kindness towards each other. We do this through metaphors and shared language.

Melissa Burkely Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today about using metaphors. “…But the best ones connect something that is less understood with something that is more understood. As a result, good metaphors help the reader understand something they otherwise might have not.” Read the entire article here.

Connecting with others is so important and language allows us to meet in the center of our words. To truly understand another’s sensations.

Compassion. Empathy. Kindness. After all, isn’t that what we all want?

Gail Sinclair, MHt, CNC is a hypnotherapist who helps those living with chronic pain go from discomfort to thriving by using hypnosis, pain management tools and resources.

She is a Master Hypnotherapist, Nutritional Consultant, and a Reiki Master Teacher. She has over 20 years in healing work and is an international award-winning speaker.

Gail lives in Portland, OR with her delightful husband, son, and cat. She can be found cooking, knitting, writing, and figuring out new ways to thrive with Trigeminal, and Occipital Neuralgia.

You can reach her gailthriveswithchronicpain@gmail.com.

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