When I was growing up, and especially during my difficult, whiny puberty and adolescence, I many times heard my mother say, “Don’t exaggerate” or “Don’t be histrionic.” Raised by a control-freak, detail-obsessed registered nurse, Mom was not (as she often declared) a Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy. She told our grade school nurse not to send me or my brother home from school unless it was an emergency. She didn’t want to hear about low fevers or little scratches; slight bumps, vague aches, or passing pains. She herself didn’t complain about that kind of thing, so why should we?
I think that’s why I didn’t take my pain seriously for the first six or so months after it began. At first I thought I might have the flu. I thought the pain might be psychosomatic. It couldn't be something worth complaining or whining about. I thought if I was a good, brave girl, it would eventually go away. Then I thought that if I could just find the right doctor, the right diagnostic tests or magic incantation, the pain’s code would be cracked.