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Breaking Dad's Pain Tolerance

It was on a Saturday morning about three months ago when I woke up suddenly from my slumber. My mother was at my bedroom door saying, I need your help; something's wrong with Dad. I stumbled through my room and followed Mom into the back bedroom where my dad was sprawled out face first on the floor; she was on hold with 911 at the time. My father rolled over, obviously in extreme pain, and his face was covered in blood. Through the conversation my mom was having with the operator and the questions they were having her ask my dad, 1 learned that after coming back from using the bathroom a sharp pain hit him around the right side of his waist. The pain got so fierce after sitting down that he passed out and hit the floor face first, bending his glasses and wounding his face. He then awoke to find himself on the floor, crawled to the bedroom, uttered the words, "Lots of pain, need an ambulance," and passed out again.

Now, to understand why I was worried, you have to know my father. He stands 6 foot 1, and at 275 pounds is not someone I would want to anger if I were not his son. Of course, because I am, I have angered him more times that I can count. He is a self-proclaimed red neck and has the build of one. Everything is muscle except for the massive and jutting beer belly. However, it was his tolerance to pain that had me worried, not so much his physical toughness. I knew the level of pain I had seen him endure and act as if nothing had happened, and the fact that this made him pass out had me convinced this event was something horrible. For one example, when I was around twelve, he accidentally cut his hand open almost three inches with a hacksaw while working on his truck; he was more upset that he could not finish working on the truck than the injury.

For another example, at the beginning of this year, two of my friends, he, and I were driving home from our deer lease when we got a call from my aunt. She was stuck at a gas station and her car needed a jump-start. So, we arrived at the gas station, and my dad pulled his 07 Ford F150 in front of their Isuzu Rodeo SUV so that the fronts of both vehicles were facing each other. We hooked the batteries up and waited for the SUV to charge. My dad was standing between both of the cars, facing the SUV, while my friends and I stood off to the side. My aunt got in the SUV and tried to start it. Unluckily, the SUV was a standard, and was still in gear. When a vehicle with a manual transmission starts in gear, the vehicle will go forward immediately. Old cars, before the nineties, kept going forward rapidly and the driver would suddenly find himself in his own garage or in the yard across the street. However, new vehicles have a safety feature that shuts the car off as soon as possible if it is started while in gear. It is not perfect, as the vehicle still lurches forward before it dies.

Unfortunately, the SUV lurched against my dadf us managed to push the SUV off his leg even though it was still in gear. My aunt was still too stunned to do anything, and we were not going to stand and wait. My father stood there for a second, then tried to walk, putting weight on the crushed knee, but he fell to the ground. My aunt ran into the store to get some ice, and we watched as his knee grew to about three times its normal size. He sat for about five minutes, stood up, said he was fine, told my aunt good-bye, and drove home. We tried to convince him to let one of us drive and that he had to be in pain, but he was too stubborn for that. Although his leg looked like a tree trunk, he spent the rest of the day acting like nothing had happened.

So, here it was, a Saturday morning, and this same man was being carried out on a stretcher into an ambulance because he was in too much pain to stand, much less walk. The fact that he even asked for an ambulance was amazing. We got to the emergency room, and they gave him some pain medication stronger than morphine. The doctors in the emergency room were guessing that it was a kidney stone, and one of them said, "It is the most painful experience a man can have." The scans would later confirm that indeed it was a kidney stone, and it passed a few days later without incident. As my dad was lying in the bed after the pain had subsided due to the medication, he asked, "How bad does my face look?" I answered, "It looks like you got into a fight." He joked, "With the floor? Yeah, I lost." After the most painful experience possible, he did not complain or comment on the pain. He joked and acted as if it did not matter.

That is just one of the many reasons I have always admired my father. When things get tough, he just shrugs his shoulders and says, Life's a bitch. Get used to it. It may be a harsh way of saying it, and when I was young, it did not mean or help much when bad things happened. Now, I have learned to adopt that mentality when life does not work the way I want it to. Bad things are going to happen, and nobody can do much about them. The only way to get over them is to accept them and get used to it.

Steven Thomason

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