RHJ 18-24 B


On October 1, 2003, Dr. Christina Crosby’s life was changed by a bicycle accident. She was paralyzed and had to learn to re-navigate her life as a quadriplegic. As a Professor of English and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University and author of A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain, her life now may be considered a heroic triumph by some. But, Crosby says many don’t understand what it’s like to live with continuous pain. She explains more about her experiences and thoughts on living in agony.

Crosby describes the sensation she feels in her body as a continuous buzz of neurological pain. While she can feel physical touch, her body is still paralyzed, which is frustrating, to say the least. Crosby’s experiences are paralleled by those of millions of Americans in chronic pain, whether from an accident like Crosby’s or something as common as arthritis. Crosby points to one particular frustration in her life, found in the doctor’s office: the 1-10 pain scale. Feeling and pain can’t be quantified, she says, and require more comprehensive language to accurately address the subjectivity.

A life in pain not only involves constant frustration and suffering but also can alienate the individual from their loved ones and society. Because of  pain’s invisibility and resistance to easy description, it gets in the way of many experiences and relationships. Furthermore, Crosby explains the struggle with loss, as the individual frequently grieves what they used to be. The desire to not forget has to be balanced with the need to move forward, Crosby says. There is still life while in pain, but it requires patience and understanding from the one suffering and those around them.

For more information about living in pain or about Crosby’s book, visit the links below.


  • Dr. Christina Crosby, Professor of English and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University and author of A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain

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