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About that fun relative named pain
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Pain is relative.

In my case, it is a first cousin.

It is why I’m fortunate to have a high tolerance of relatives given how I have a set of bunions that scare young children, hammer toes, a shoulder I cracked at 45 mph in a downhill bicycle crash, a knee that I tried real hard to shatter in the same mishap, and a mild case of scoliosis.

I can take a spill, bloody up my legs and arms, and shake it off. When gout and bursitis were regular visitors until I changed my diet and stepped up shoulder exercises, I was able to ignore much of the pain even though I definitely felt it.

And I kept going in two separate incidents with serious hernias until the pain got so bad I couldn’t get up. The second time I kept ignoring the pain until the hernia came within 24 hours of bursting, prompting an emergency surgery.

Despite all of that simply sitting or laying for an extended period of time drives me absolutely nuts as it is borderline painfully uncomfortable.

Fifty-three times in the past three years I have donated platelets through the Delta Blood Bank. It is a process that requires you to sit between 2 and 2 1/2 hours with a needle in your arm while squeezing a rubber ball non-stop. I have no problem with the needle even when twice the phlebotomist inadvertently scraped the wall of my vein setting the stage for part of my arm to become black and blue.

But what I can’t stand is sitting there for 2 1/2 hours. While it isn’t pain on the level of slamming into the pavement, gout, having a hernia, stubbing your toes and bunion at the same time, slamming a car door on your finger or a well-placed dog bite I can’t ever seem to ignore it.

The last time I fell jogging was when it snowed ever so slightly in Manteca in the early morning hours a few years back. When I got up I was bloody along my arm, shoulder, knee and lower leg.  It hurt but then after checking to make sure nothing was broken, I went back to jogging blocking the pain from my mind.

But if I sit or sleep I can’t stay in one position for more than 15 minutes to a half hour at best without going bonkers. At one time it was worse.

Years ago I was bicycling at a fairly decent clip of 24 mph going with traffic along Highway 65 in Placer County when some jerk threw an orange from a car going the same direction at about 60 mph. The orange hit me square in my lower back.

The moron was hanging his head out the passenger window as he passed screaming some profanity and laughing. I remember it stung when it first hit. But what I remember most is that for years afterwards was how my back would all of a sudden spasm and would force me to literally walk bent over severely at the waist for short periods.

No, the point of this isn’t to sound like Dr. Zachary Smith of “Lost in Space” TV fame with his trademark, “oh the pain, the pain” of it all line. It’s to emphasize that the best pain management can often be the last thing you’d think it would be – exercise.

Credit it to the endorphins. Credit it to increased flexibility. Credit it to increased strength.

But the experts aren’t kidding when they say keep moving. In my case, I’ve found the more I kick it up, the better I feel.

People sometimes think I’m nuts to do what I do in terms of jogging, group exercise classes, and such. Forgetting the fact I’m probably nuts to begin with by most standards, I remember how it felt when I wasn’t exercising. It’s the same difference I feel from when I weighed 320 pounds compared to the 165 pounds I weigh today.

The best health insurance out there isn’t Obamacare, Blue Cross, Kaiser, or HealthNet. It’s you.

Diet does make a difference. Instead of having bouts of gout that started when I was 23 every year or so, I haven’t had a gout attack now for 15 years. And while some of it has to do with DNA and my immune system, I rarely get sick any more.

Exercise does make a difference. The little nagging discomforts from run-of-the-mill injuries are nonexistent. It improves both your physical and mental states.

I’ve seen people with serious asthma issues and even diabetes slowly get better through diet and exercise. The same is true of heart attack victims.

The best insurance you have for your heath is how you take care of your body. There are no magical pills or cure-all surgeries.

Pain is indeed relative.

And it is your action or inaction that determines its relativity.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or (209) 249-3519.