Wherever the Road Leads

Women and Pain

Gloria Steinem burned her bra during the nineteen seventies. But smoldering fabric from a Playtex product cannot undo the physiological differences between men and women that have evolved over eons.

Men, the hunters and gatherers, have traditionally gone into the field and the face of danger, while women have remained behind to do what was required to support the family unit: cook, clean, raise children and provide support when necessary.

Part of the required support would be to tend to her mate if the hunter ended up on the losing end of the daily battle for dinner: man got gored, gazelle got gone. While the chances of a good goring are much less today as we push a shopping cart through the meat section at Kroger, the principle remains the same.

I have long known that a man suffers exponentially more pain and suffering when he gets a cold than does a woman.  Women are much more immune to pain. I am going to guess that the two most painful elements in a woman’s life would be childbirth and cramps.

Because neither can be experienced by a man – if so, a solution would have been found long ago – these two experiences must be discounted; they cannot be entered into the equation of pain. One does not need a scientific study, simply watch the reactions of a man with a cold and a woman with a cold. It is obvious that the man suffers much greater discomfort.

A number of years ago, my suspicions were confirmed during a visit to Montreal. The French appear to be vastly further advanced in certain fields of medicine as they have a medical definition for this distinction in the suffering between the genders.

In French, it’s called, “Un Rhue d’Homme”. Translated: “A Man’s Cold”. They are wise, indeed, the French.

Shelf after shelf at the pharmacy is filled with products for colds, sniffling, sneezing and sinuses, daytime and nighttime, pills, capsules or powder, name-brand or generic, off the shelf or over the counter. Most of the packaging seems to display significantly the color red, perhaps to exude strength or combativeness. I believe the drug companies are misguided in their packaging.

Extra-strength Cold/Pain/Sniffles/Wart Remover Plus should be in colors often seen in a Lingerie Retail store or the boxes containing a bottle of perfume. All these cold products are for women, to keep women healthy. These products are virtually ineffective when it comes to what ails a man.

There is but a single remedy for a Man’s Cold. Sympathy. And lots of it. Perhaps verging on babying.

Acetylsalicylic acid was concocted by Felix Hoffman, a man, working for the German Bayer company in 1897. Today, it is the most widely-used pain medication, with over 40,000 metric tonnes consumed each year. Its name was shortened to ‘ASA’ or ‘aspirin’ so that women more easily would be able ask for the drug.

Women must remain healthy to be able to provide the life-sustaining ingredient to a man’s recovery, sympathy. Plus, maybe, chicken soup. Or a football game on the TV as he waits for The Grim Reaper.



Fortunately, this is a condition that dissipates as we age. As we get older, the common cold seems to take a back seat to the multitude of unthought-of ailments that enter into our lives. Joints and organs begin to show the effects of wear and tear, of years of misuse, excess, heredity, not listening to your mother or just plain getting old.

We find though, that we are in good company. Similar to when you have just bought a new, white Ford F150 pick up, you start to notice how many other white Ford F150 pick ups there are on the road.

Also true is the axiom, “I thought I had it bad because I had no shoes, then I saw a man who had no feet.” As we feel “poor me” because we have to wear a leg cast, we hear of a man who had his leg amputated. Three years after my Radiation treatment for the cancer in my throat, I cannot and most-likely will never taste sugar or salt.

During a recent trip to the dentist, I learned of a woman who had similar treatment and her mouth no longer produces saliva. She has to eat everything with mouthfuls of sweet tea and her cheeks stick to her teeth.

Aging… while we all have something for which to be thankful, it does suck getting old. Perhaps another axiom that applies is “Youth is wasted on the young.”

Every time I see Harry Reid, the Senator from Nevada and the Senate Majority Leader, I think of Woody Allen. Woody has never been a favorite comedian of mine but I think he nails it perfectly with his philosophy on getting old.

“In my next life, I want to live it backwards. You start out dead and get that out the way. Then you wake up in an Old Folk’s Home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go to collect a pension and when you do start work you get a gold watch and a party on your first day.

“You work for forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy retirement. You party, drink alcohol and are generally promiscuous, then you are ready for high school. You then go to primary school, become a kid and play. You have no responsibilities, you become a baby until you are born.

“Then you spend the last nine months floating in luxurious, spa-like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and then voila!, you finish off life as an orgasm.”


The more I think about it, the better it sounds.


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  1. Susan Calhoun  November 16, 2012

    Perfectly written and so true. Living life in reverse sounds logical to me.

  2. Alistair Mair  November 17, 2012

    Great Read!! So true. Raise a glass to the women!


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