In an article about catechol-O-methyl-transferase Val158met polymorphism and fibromyalgia (I typed that with a straight face, by the way), I came across something I never thought of before. Just like people with chronic pain syndromes, there are people with reduced pain sensitivity. I don’t mean people who have had strokes or other events that affect their sense of touch. There is actually a very rare disease called CIPA (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis), which is a nervous system disorder where the patient has significantly reduced sensitivity (or no sensitivity) to pain, including temperature or even feeling the need to go to the bathroom, although they can feel pressure. The “anhidrosis” part means they don’t sweat.
Which is worse, do you suppose? Feeling too much or not feeling anything at all? I vote for not feeling anything at all being worse – much worse. Setting aside the embarrassment of not knowing when to zip into the restroom, imagine everything people with CIPA miss. The joy of a good belly scratch, the ache after a good workout, cuddling with a kitten or a newborn, feeling a gust of wind on your face, the sensation of floating in a perfectly calm pool, a hot shower after coming in from the cold, hugs, kisses…. It puts fibromyalgia into perspective. I’ll take the ache. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll complain about it, but if I had the choice, I’ll take the ache.