Pain Management

Dennis Hanley had used up three of his four weeks at the institute, a small salmon-coloured building on University Avenue’s hospital row. His Worker’s Comp had paid for the first two weeks, and his parents were paying for the other two. At the institute they didn’t call group therapy “Group” they called it “Conference,” and everyone was supposed to dress in regular day-clothes—there were no robes or gowns to be had at all—although by the third week some people just kept their pajamas on all day.

Dr. Krayman was a young man with a easy-going manner and a huge black mustache. In Conference he said, “Pain is a signal, and a signal is a message that has to be decoded. So let’s some of us describe some of the signals we’re getting from our bodies.”

A guy named Ernst spoke first. “I get a signal from my body that says I’m carrying a heavy weight.”

“All right,” said Dr. Krayman. “And how is that manifested in your body, Ernst.”

“I have pain in my back and legs that won’t go away.” Ernst nodded like this was something shameful.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 3. Purchase the book to read the full piece.

Toronto locations referenced in this piece

“Dennis Hanley had used up three of his four weeks at the institute, a small salmon-coloured building on University Avenue’s hospital row . . . ” —University Ave.

“Behind a flower-vined red-brick wall on a side street near Yonge and Eglinton, he’d been pricked viciously by an old Jewish doctor with body maps on the wall . . . ” —Yonge & Eglinton

“And inside a pale blue room in a teaching hospital at the University of Toronto, a class of students in gowns that were too large for them watched eagerly as their professor scraped, pinched, heated, thumped and punctured various parts of him . . . ” —University of Toronto

“He waited with the two of them at a stop on College Street, glancing once in a while down the block to the other side to see if anyone was coming to get them. No one was . . . ” —College St.

“‘Melanie and I have a lot in common, we discovered. But yeah, I’ve spent most of my life on Jones Avenue. Went to junior and high school out there.’ . . . ” —Jones Ave.

“They crossed the bridge over the Don River and then went through a Chinatown Dennis hadn’t realized was out there. A city with two Chinatowns . . . ” —Broadview (Chinatown)