It first became apparent to my parents that something was wrong when I was four or five months old. I began chewing on my tongue while teething. They took me to a paediatrician where I underwent a series of tests. At first they put a cigarette lighter underneath my foot and waited for my skin to blister. Once they saw that I had no response to that then they began running needles up and down my spine. And since I had no response to either of those tests they came to the conclusion that I had what I have - congenital analgesia. By which point, I had chewed off about a quarter of my tongue through teething.
We grew up on a farm. My mum and dad tried to be protective without stifling my brother and me. But when you're out in the country, especially if you're a boy, you're going to go out and explore and get in a little mischief. So during my early childhood I was absent from school a lot due to injury and illness. There was one time, at the roller-skating rink. I can't recall all of the details, but I know that I broke my leg. People were pointing at me because my pants were just covered in blood from where the bone came out. After that, I wasn't allowed to roller skate until I was much older.
When I was five or six years old, I was taken away from my home by child protective services. Someone had reported my parents for child abuse. I was in the state's care for, I believe, two months. And during that time I broke my leg before they finally realised that my parents and the paediatrician were telling the truth about my condition. At school, a lot of children would have questions about my condition. They would ask: "Why do you have a cast on?" Most of the time I was in a cast, until I was around 11 or 12. I was involved in fights quite frequently. Whenever a new kid came to school, the children would try to get that person to come and pick a fight me, as a kind of introduction to the school. They would say: "If you can't feel pain, you will once I'm done with you."
Nowadays, I am not a particularly reckless person. I believe I'm actually more vigilant than most people because I know that if I were to injure myself I wouldn't know how severe it would be. Internal injuries are the ones I fear the most. Appendicitis is what really scares me. Usually whenever I have any type of stomach issues or a fever I go to the hospital just to get it checked out. The last time I had a broken bone, my wife actually noticed before I did. My foot was swollen, black and blue, so I went to the doctor and had an X-ray and they told me that I had broken two of my toes and they wanted to put a cast on it. I had to go to work the next day. If had a cast on I wasn't going to be able to work for quite some time so I just told them I'd take care of myself. I went home and took some duct tape, taped it up, put my boots on and went to work that next morning.