Things That Hurt

In response to the June 9, 2005 entry on superlefty.com, Danielle, Age 10, of The Internet writes:


Does it hurt to get a shot or to get a cavity filled?

Tell me! I’m only 10!!!!!

Bye, Danielle

Dear Danielle,

It does hurt to get a shot or to get cavity filled. But not as much as you think it’s going to hurt. What really hurts is the worry about the hurt. It only hurts for a second, and when it does hurt, it’s not as bad as you were thinking it would be. It doesn’t hurt much more than stubbing your toe and is far less surprising. The only part of getting a cavity filled that can hurt is getting the shot, and you might not even feel that at all. So to answer you question, kind of, but not really. One thing that I think can help when something hurts is to let it hurt. So don´t try to steel yourself and not feel the little stick of the needle. Say to yourself, “I wonder what it will feel like to get stuck by this needle and I am going to just see exactly what it feels like.” My good friend Chloe is almost a doctor and she says that the human body can alter how much it feels pain, and that people whose bodies are feeling a lot of pain can eventually turn it off. Pain is not the sensation itself, but our alarmed response to it.

If you are concerned about things that hurt, I would worry more about emotional pain than physical pain. Scientists say that the pain of a broken heart is one thing that can be physically measured. A broken heart really, really hurts. That is when you love someone and they don´t love you in the same way, but you thought they might but then you realize they don´t and they never will, and maybe they do love someone else, but not you. A broken heart hurts for far longer than an injection, and can happen to anyone at any time. There is no way to avoid a broken heart except to never fall in love, and I don’t reccomend that at all, because falling in love is the exact opposite of a broken heart, it is to a broken heart what an ice cream cone is to an injection.

Other things that hurt are extreme embarrassment (see broken heart), disappointment (see broken heart), hangovers (see broken heart) and climbing volcanoes if you are not in peak physical condition. Things I have heard can really hurt but do not know about personally are giving birth to babies, getting tattooed on bony parts of your body and getting kicked in the crotch if you are a male. However, it is generally agreed that while these things can be painful, everyone can get through them alright.

When I was your age I was terribly, terribly afraid of things that hurt and would cry at the mere thought of them. Now I am afraid of fear, because if you have fear, you won´t do things, and not doing things to me is a different kind of pain.

Pain is a very complicated concept, Danielle, and everyone has his or her own relationship to it. My advice to you about shots and cavities is to pretend that they really, really hurt to get your parents to buy you stuff.

Thanks for writing. SuperLefty is happy to answer reader questions any time. Unless you specify in your email, your question may be published on superlefty.com.

Don’t Let The Man Get You Down,

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