It started on Wednesday, with an achy, not-too-bad kind of pain on the left side of my upper jaw. I thought it might be a sinus issue.
It got worse yesterday, and I was lucky enough to get an on-the-spot appointment with my dentist, who confirmed that no, actually, the root canal I had a few years back has gotten re-infected. Better handle up on that ASAP.
Tomorrow (today), I have a 9:00 appointment with an endodontist to re-do the root canal. But in the meantime, I'm up and blogging in the middle of the night, nursing a pain that the drugs can't even touch.
So here is a thought. Wouldn't it be a different world if we could actually feel other people's pain? Like, on an individual level, how many of the people that today will be dismissed by their doctors for "psychosomatic" (read: imaginary) distress would get real help? And on a societal level, how much more quickly could we progress if we could actually feel the mental anguish of our fellow sapiens? How fast would bigotry crumble if the average person KNEW the kind of pain that comes from having to live in a body that doesn't match your gender, or trying to suppress a sexuality that will get you shamed, fired, hurt, or killed?
Maybe it would be a utopia of compassion and understanding. But then you have to think about how that would change our manners. Like, it's already bad form to go into the office when you're sick, because somebody else might catch what you've got. How much worse would it be if you showed up KNOWING you'd inflict your pain on your co-workers as soon as you walked in the door? And does the person who walks onto a crowded subway on the verge of a nervous breakdown become a commuter, or a terrorist?
So there'd have to be social coping mechanisms. It might become polite to shut yourself in at home when you're miserable, so you don't wound every random stranger you pass in the street. Certainly you'd be expected to medicate yourself. The chronic, severe, and untreatable kinds of pain might even require you to kill yourself. So in the longer, Darwinian run of things, the people who survive and prosper would be those who are the least prone to pain themselves - mental or physical - and those who are the least affected by the pain of others...aka the bullies.
On the balance, maybe it's best that we stay over here in Earth 616. It's not perfect - not by a long shot - but I like the idea of living in a world aligned to the virtue of striving to understand other people's feelings, rather than the necessity of scrambling to escape them. (And on a selfish, vocational note, a good story is basically empathy in a can anyhow.)
All right. It's 7:00AM. Two more hours to go. I can make it. But it's a really good thing that I don't know where to score drugs on lower Greenville.
Oh, I’m in pain! I think this is what pain feels like!