Pain and Memory

Pain and Memory

When we experience pain, we often remember the activity associated with it.

Pain and Memory

You forgot to pick up your cleaning.  You forgot your sister’s anniversary.  You forgot to send David with the permission slip for the field trip and you had to drive over to school with it.

Yes, we forget things.  We don’t store them in a front-loading file that jumps into our mental vision.  So what can you do to help remember such odds and ends?  Store them with pain.

I’m not suggesting that you do that.  But pain and remembering are closely linked.  If an experience was painful, you will remember it.  Like the details of a surgery, a birth, a broken bone.

I have the details of an eye surgery I had at the age of five very firmly implanted.  I can run the film at any time—see the long hospital corridors that I first walked down, and the room with two beds where my mother left me.  But then the seeing memory goes away and becomes auditory only.  Because the doctor covered BOTH of my eyes after the surgery.  So I hear footfalls in that hallway as I lie in bed for four days waiting for visiting hour when my mother would come to see me.  One day she did not come because she couldn’t get a sitter for my younger brother.  That day and night was possibly the longest of my life.  I remember the sand bags they placed on either side of my head when I slept at night and the cardboard cuffs they pinned to my hospital gown over my elbows so I couldn’t raise my arms and pull at the bandages while dreaming.  Someone fed me.  The pain was not physical, but environmental—I was five, away from my home and my mother and my life of playing and going to school.

It finally ended on Sunday morning when they removed the bandages and I could see the room of my loneliness, the roommate who never stayed to talk to me and sunshine filling my world again.  They looked at my eye and were pleased.  They let me get out of bed.  I was so excited, I fainted dead away.  You don’t let someone up to run around when they’ve been lying in bed for five days!!!  What were they thinking?

But I was fine.  My surgery went well and I am grateful forever to my doctor who insured that I would have a life of good vision despite being born with strabismus.  Today I would be discharged the same day and never have both eyes bandaged.  From my nursing background, I cannot find an explanation or rational for bandaging both eyes.  It just was painful.  It just increased my memory.  Pain and memory are a duo.

Thanks to Google Images

For more information on this subject: http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/remember-pain.htm