Does What We Expect Change What We Feel?

Have you ever gone about your business for hours before you noticed you had injured yourself? And then it hurt?

I read book that described a manual laborer who landed on a six inch nail that went all the way through his boot. The pain was so bad the doctors sedated him with pre-surgery drugs and gave him painkillers normally reserved for terminal cancer patients. But when the doctors removed the boot, they found no injury: the nail was lodged between his toes.

Recently, I wasn’t so lucky.

I have a Bostitch stapler in my office. I call it “the librarian,” because it’s the device a librarian would suggest you use when you’ve got a stack of printed research materials that would jam an ordinary Swingline. Then, he or she would say good luck reading it all and making sense of it.

But take your eye off the ball for a second, and you learn a stapler like that doesn’t know a printed thesis from a fingerprint. I looked up at I-forget-what only to hear a sound that sort of sounded like “Whoa, that went through every page?” but not quite. That’s when I looked down.

Spoiler Alert: I stapled myself.

My left index finger is not a fifty-page stack of bright white copy paper. It’s not dense enough to curl the edges of a heavy-duty staple. And unlike my finger, copy paper doesn’t bleed when penetrated. 

That staple went straight in. I felt something, but it wasn’t pain. It wasn’t discomfort. It didn’t even hurt until I looked at myself, and realized what I did; then it hurt. A lot.

Experience says there’s no pain until it bleeds and my brain makes the connection that a steel alloy staple through my finger ought to hurt very much. For a second, I wondered if I needed a tetanus shot. I don’t, because I had one two months ago after a ceramic plate slashed my thumb when it decided it didn’t want to be cleaned, yet. 

I needed two Band-Aids, since I’m awful at unpeeling them with one hand. I wondered whether it would have been less painful had I not expected the pain as soon as I saw it.


20 responses

  1. This is so true! It happened to me a few time when I was younger… Once, I felt and hurt myself. I didn’t notice it… but started crying once noticing I was bleeding.

    1. Yeah, exactly. I’m sure that happened to me, IF I EVER CRIED. Psh. 🙂

  2. I have definite love/hate relationship with staplers. *And* I am totally incapable of opening a band-aid with one hand. (Honestly opening one with two hands sometimes gets me )

    1. I hate stapler problems almost as much as car problems. True story.

  3. Um OUCH! That first story about the boot and the foot was incredibly cringe worthy!

    1. Yeah, I almost didn’t believe it, but I do, sorta. I just wonder how he felt real pain when NOTHING HAPPENED.

  4. Ignorance is bliss. Spoiler: the person who said that may or may not had a stapler around.

    Great humorous post. Glad I came across it! I’m a fan 🙂

    1. Thanks! I trust you’re not amused that I hurt myself. Although, it’s okay, because had I not looked, I’d still have no idea.

  5. It’s the same things like with little kids….when they fall and you pretend you didn’t see it they just get up, shake it off and move on. When they catch you looking at them they start crying like the pain is unbearable…..and when little blood is involved it’s the end of the world,lol

    1. Yeah, I wish I had never learned that blood = pain. BOOO.

  6. It is so interesting how we get to a point where we have a keen understanding of how things impact our body— our ability to (typically) judge how much strength we need to pick up an object, the way we clench before we go out into the cold, and apparently, our reaction to a staple in a finger.

    Glad you survived!

    1. Well, my doctors deserve a lot of credit. By “doctors” I mean Tylenol and Neosporin.

  7. I’ll admit it, I am highly amused that you stapled yourself. Not because you were in pain, because that is terrible, but because you wrote this post in a very humorous way that made the pain you went through kind of funny to someone just hearing the story. I enjoyed reading this and I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading other blog posts from you. Glad I found you.

    1. Thanks so much. 🙂 I figured I can get over the psychological scarring if I tell it differently then I felt it, at the time. Ahem.

  8. Ouchies! I stapled my thumbs together when I was a kid. Yes, together! lol.. I didn’t cry because I was too embarrassed and quickly unstapled myself and put the stapler back!

    1. You may be a superhero, then.

  9. Glad to know that I’m not the only clumsy person in here.

    1. HEY NOW. Maybe it was a one-time thing. 😛

  10. I have never stapled myself, but I have done a myriad of other things that a more observant person may not have… I can’t remember any right now because I block them out like a tragic accident… But I *know* they are there!
    Great post!

    1. Oh, sure. You don’t remember. You’re just trying to make me feel better! 😉

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