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1. "Hospice nurses are trained to identity five types of pain: physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and financial."


2.1. I walked out of a lecture on chronic pain after too many repetitions of the phrase, “We have reason to believe that you are in pain, even if there is no physical evidence of your pain.” I had not realized that the fact that I believed myself to be in pain was not reason enough. Pg 17.

2.2. When I cry from it, I cry over the idea of it lasting forever, not over the pain itself. Pg 19.

2.3. “This is a pathology,” the doctor assured me when he informed me that there was no definitive cause of my pain, no effective treatment for it, and very probably no end to it. “This is not in your head.” Pg 21.

2.4. Through a failure of my imagination, or of myself, I have discovered that the pain I am in is always the worst pain imaginable. Pg 24.


3.1. "Although the distance between one and two is finite, it contains infinite fractions." - Page 9

3.2. "The upper fixed point on the Fahrenheit scale, ninety-six, is basedon a slightly inaccurate measure of normal body temperature. Thelower fixed point, zero, is the coldest temperature at which amixture of salt and water can still remain liquid. I myself am amixture of salt and water. I strive to remain liquid." - Page 6

3.3. "Seven is the largest prime number between zero and ten. Out of all the numbers, the very largest primes are unknown. Still, every year, the largest known prime is larger. Euclid proved the number of primes to be infinite, but the infinity of primes is slightly smaller than the infinity of the rest of the numbers. It is here, exactly at this point, that my ability to comprehend begins to fail." - Page 19

3.4. "The exact depth and circumfer-ence of Hell inspired intense debates, despite the fact that allcalculations, no matter how sophisticated, were based on a workof fiction." - Page 17


4.1. "I understand the desire to be average only when I am in pain. To be normal is to be okay in a fundamental way - to be chosen numerically by God." 15

4.2. "Zero is not a number. Or at least, it does not behave like a number. It does not add, subtract, or multiply like other numbers. Zero is a number in the way that Christ was a man." 5

4.3. "It was the age of the golden rectangle - the divine proportion. Mathematics revealed God's plan. But the very use of numbers required a religious faith, because one could drop off the edge of the earth at any point. The boundaries of the maps at that time faded into oceans full of monsters." 17

4.4. "Christianity is not mine. I do not know it and I cannot claim it. But I've seen the sacred heart ringed with thorns, the gaping wound in Christ's side, the weeping virgin, the blood, the nails, the cross to bear... Pain is holy, I understand. Suffering is di-vine." 23


5.1. Assigning a value to my own pain has never ceased to feel like a political act. I am a citizen of a country that ranks our comfort above any other concern. People suffer, I know, so that I may eat bananas in February. (pg 12)

5.2. The fact that 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain does not comfort me. Rather, it confounds me. “This is not normal,” I keep thinking. A thought invariably followed by a doubt, “Is this normal?” p. 15

5.3. Babies, it was believed, did not have the fully developed nervous systems necessary to feel pain. Medical evidence that infants experience pain in response to anything that would cause an adult pain has only recently emerged. p. 14

5.4. "When I could no longer sleep at night because of my pain, my father reminded me that a great many people suffer from both insomnia and pain. "In fact," he told me, "neck and back pain is so common that it is a cliché - a pain in the neck!"









7.1. "My father raised me to believe that most pain is minor. He was never impressed by my bleeding cuts or even my weeping sores. In retrospect, neither am I.

7.2. My father tells me that when he broke his collarbone it didn’t hurt. I would like to believe this, but I am suspicious of my father’s assessment of his own pain. The problem of pain is that I cannot feel my father’s, and he cannot feel mine.

7.3. Her existence, like my father's, pains me. This is the upper fixed point of love. P.22

7.4. My mother and I hung the chickens like this on the barn door for their necks to be slit. I like to imagine that a chicken at zero feels no pain.


8.1. "There is only one fixed point on the Kelvin Scale- absolute zero. Absolute zero is 271 degrees Celsius colder than the temperature water freezes at."

8.2. "There is no evidence of pain on my body. No marks. No swelling.... There was nothing to illustrate my pain expect a number, which I was told to choose from between zero and ten. My proof."