The Flaw of Resilience

Be warned, I am going to talk about a surgery I had, so, it might be a little gross. I’ll keep it light, though.

One of the things others seem to find most remarkable about me is my fine athletic body. No, not that. Oh, no—it’s what we call “resilience.” And it’s true. I have a pretty high physical pain tolerance, and emotionally, I can be rock solid while others are crying and crumbling. My brain and body seem to have been designed to endure pain. And sure, this is certainly an ability that comes in handy. I can push myself further at the gym when I do go. Or when there is a crisis with family or friends, they can use me as an anchor. Sure, resilience can be great.

But it’s also a lie.

When people think “resilient” they immediately think “strong.” Sure, that’s somewhat true, but when people think “strong,” they kind of mean “nothing wrong.” So, here’s the truth about resilience, and I’ll use my recent health as an example.

A few months ago, I developed this infection on my skin. Didn’t look like much, but it hurt, so I went to a doctor, they observed it and didn’t think it was much earlier until (GROSS ALERT!) they drained the infection. Turns out, it was really deep. In fact, it was so deep, the doctor said that if I didn’t get it fixed when I did, I would have probably been in a coma the next day. By the way, the infection seemed to be caused by an ingrown hair follicle, which speaks multitudes to the design flaws of the human body, but that’s another post. A small infection nearly put me in a coma. How did I not realize the problem? One, it was growing inwards long before it surfaced. Two…I literally did not feel it. No pain, until it was big it hit the skin. My doctor thought that was kind of remarkable in a way, that I couldn’t feel it, but it was also bad.

So, turns out, just draining it wasn’t enough. The sucker would not go away, and though it didn’t really hurt much, it kept persisting, to the point where I had to have it surgically removed. After the most wonderful nap I’ve ever had, I woke up and they had cut it out. But, as it turns out, is was even bigger that the doctor anticipated, and there was a second infection behind it. Yeah. But I have high pain tolerance and even now, with a ½ inch hole in my body, the day after surgery, I’ve barely felt any pain. Even yesterday. Sure, I have Vicodin, but I haven’t needed it that much and more taking it to prevent what might be pain later.

What am I talking about? My resilience to pain betrayed me. I thought I was fine. I didn’t even know there was a problem at all, and it turned out that a small problem was growing larger and larger until it could have really hurt me, even killed me. That isn’t strength, that’s basically ignorance. That was physical, who knows how mental and emotional resilience can betray us. Just because it looks like someone’s a rock, or if you are the same…doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. In fact, there could just be an even bigger one developing to finally reach your threshold.

Now, I have no idea how to detect these problems in the future. It’s not like I can tell my body to start feeling more pain. But, it’s a damn good story point—the more resilient the character, the more painful the fall. Oh yeah, I turned all of this into a writing lesson. Boom!

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