While we were in Pigeon Forge TN our wife took us to the Wonderworks Science Museum there. It was great!! (Okay, forget the boyish enthusiasm, we were glad to be there on many levels). Some of the exhibits appealed to the artists in us; others the boys; then there was the ‘war game’ which of course the Soldier excelled at (shooting using a VR helmet). We didn’t do the Laser Tag, however – that would have cost more, and those little kids no doubt would have run circles around us!
On the ‘plus’ side, we discovered our fear of heights remains. We did the Rope Course and despite being tied off and knowing we were safe, we had a really hard time with it. Part of it was knowing how hard it is to ‘fall’ despite a safety tether – the strap usually chaffs and abrades the side of your face and/or neck, then you’ve got to haul yourself back ‘up’ on the rope, bridge, or gizmo that you have fallen off of. While we were able to make it all the way to the top, we were nervous, anxious, and using the 3-point approach to everything – keeping on hand firmly on our safety strap (which actually does no good). We managed one tightrope walk which had a rope we could use to hang onto; however were too scared (wary?) to take the ‘straight tightrope’ … which was both disappointing and made us a bit angry at our own stupid fears. This sense of / fear of heights thing – we didn’t used to have that when we were younger, but now – well, I guess one drop too many, eh? Part of the reason I’m disabled: the Marine Corps had a nasty habit of dropping me from high places.
The March of Pain …. LOL, remembering – when we ‘marched’ for three days solid (just about – took some ‘breaks’) – while ‘running away’ (or running towards) the San Juan airport – our work having been done, the dude rather mucked up, and ourselves successful in managing our mission . . . despite the fact that our mission turned out rather *ucked up as well . . . We are somewhat unhappy and sad and smug and self-satisfied about the way that one turned out – us having gotten back and HE didn’t – HE’s still over there dealing with the mess of his life . . . something we had helped kick him in the ass with …. lots going on right there – still is, and we’re still hurting from this thing.
Okay: An Exercise In Pain Tolerance.
At the Wonderworks Museum they have a small pool of water that is chilled to twenty-eight degrees – the temperature of the water that the victims and survivors of the Titanic went in. TWENTYEIGHT DEGREES. Fahrenheit. That’s four (count ’em, FOUR) – degrees below freezing. Here’s someone’s video of it.
“Put Your Hand In”, the sign advertised . . . “See how long YOU can stand the water!” – and then some about how the effects of hypothermia killed the passengers and still kills hundreds of people per year.
So we stuck our hand in.
It was cold – very cold at first. And then as the pain started settling into our finger joints . . . we shut it off.
Two minutes later I asked the wife (she was impatient to move on) “How long should I keep it in? I don’t know!” And I left it sitting in there.
About a minute later the guide for that area comes up with a group – they are going to do the “Hurricane Machine” . . . so we stand there (hand still in the water) watching him. He gets them in – they get blown around – he gets them out – and as he’s pointing to the exit for them, we ask him:
“What is the average amount of time most people can stand to have their hand in this water?” We are curious – and wondering if perhaps we aren’t overdoing it a bit. That’s one thing about having this level of pain tolerance – sometimes you can get hurt doing something and never even realize it (I don’t know how many times we’ve come in from the yard bleeding or something and never even realized it) – and sometimes (like this time) – you can get hurt doing something you know is inherently potentially …. harmful?
“Twenty-six seconds,” he says, looking at us, bored. Then his eyes go onto the clock. They widen and his jaw goes a bit loose.
“How long is the longest that anyone has left their hand in there?” we ask, looking over at the digital readout. It’s a little over four minutes right now. “I mean – we could do this all day.” And we could. But there’s still a lot to do. When should I stop?, I wonder. This is a problem with us sometimes – not knowing when to stop doing something. And challenges – such as this one – well, they’re infinite, you know? You could keep on doing it . . . forever. Such as some Titanic non-survivors did. Poor souls. (I can’t help but wince at that. That water going around certain nether regions . . . well, it would be…hmmm….crippling. To say the least.)
“Up to as the max on that clock!” he says – which, we notice, is ticking on. The clock is a four digit digital – so it could go to 99:59 – or 1 hour, thirty-three minutes and fifty nine seconds. I laugh.
“I’m not going to stay here that long!” I tell my wife, whose eyebrows are beginning to raise alarmingly.
“You really need to pull your hand out of that,” the guy says, his tone serious and even. “That water is twenty-eight degrees. It’s below freezing. You can hurt your hand . . .”
“I know, I know,” I laugh again, pulling my hand out of the tank. It’s right about five minutes thirty-eight seconds. “It could give you frostbite!” We hadn’t thought about that until he mentioned it. Duh. But we did know – just were ignoring it. Kinda like we ignore a lot of things when it comes to pain vs. doing something . . .
Just goes to show . . . (and I want our DID / MPD friends to take note – as well as those around them . . .)
DID has it’s advantages. It can cause problems (eg. what if we hadn’t finally decided to take our hand out of there – at the guide’s suggestion and our recognition of our wife’s impatience to be moving on?) We can do some stupid kinds of things sometimes. Remember: DID / MPD was “created” to endure pain – and it does. We ALL do . . . however, ‘someone’ has to take the brunt of our lessons.
We are thinking little Mikie did – and Matthew, too, with the Soldier helping him (firm grit jaw) . . .
just as he (they) did in Puerto Rico.
and ‘we’ are thanking ‘them’ (Mikie, the Soldier inside, and our good friend Matthew, the ‘younger’ teenager . . .) – proud of them for being so tough . . . and yet loving them for being so loving and tender . . . a sensitive loving kid; a heart torn war torn teen . . . and a familiar soldier . . .
We’re loving them all . . .