Chronic Pain

People talk of spoons. You only have so many spoons a day. To some, this makes no sense. Why spoons? What about being poor with no credit cards. No cash. And your tire is busted. You don’t have $10.00 bucks and some lint in your pocket. There’s not a credit card to charge it on because you can’t get one.

The story of pain is about restrictions. Woven inside it’s barbs are reminders to go slower. Ease up on the anger. And always remember to rest.

Another way of understanding pain is to know there’s something always in your field of vision. It’s like a floppy hat you bat away but it keeps crashing on your face.

The teen who started the spoon story had Lupus, which is a limiting disorder. On the outside, everything looks normal. It’s the inside where things are not functioning as they should. It’s as if you have water in your car’s gas tank. There’s sputtering and stalling.

Most who suffer pain, try to hide it, even though it’s with them regularly. I know it’s influenced many decisions. How hard do I push in exercise? Not to overexertion. If I allowed myself to become dehydrated and too hot, it could trigger a migraine and muscle spasms. I’ve taken a lot of effort to prevent those, so moderation is better.

There’s a strange way of focusing when you have limited resources. It frees you to decide on priorities. It also lets you say no at times. Unfortunately, there have been times I desperately wanted to attend events, and I couldn’t. Understand it’s not an Ace card up my sleeve. I never play it like that for a reason most apparent. When I need it, I want it to be real.

I try to live optimistic, thinking of my dreams, but I have to keep my limits in view, to know how much I can accomplish each day.

How do you handle your pain or other limits?

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Cleaning Our Gunk

I’d put it off for a while. Longer than most people usually do, but I’m single and with that said there’s not anyone here to scold me or to please but me. I had a spare moment this evening when I opened the refrigerator, caught the awful whiff of the rotting unknown and decided to investigate.

It’s not that I’m untidy or filthy. Life had come at me hard like a WWE smackdown. When my sweet cat had become sick, there was some chicken in the fridge or possibly something had spilled or so I kept thinking. But I couldn’t face cleaning up. After Ms. Kitty lost her tooth, she didn’t get better. I realized she had a tumor which overgrew. A common thing in older cats and the vet couldn’t do anything. It was in her upper jaw near her eye. Within a couple of months, she passed in the night. I had her cremated.

I had been so busy and exhausted. My place was only partially maintained. I had a demanding Monday through Friday job as well as my writing. The weekend Ms. Kitty died, I had a Migraine episode. These are a frustrating fact of life. Take 3 to 5 days and toss them away. Can’t do anything. Body shut downtime.

I ignored my refrigerator. My house was quiet. I recovered. I grieved. Cried. I missed my cuddle partner. She’d been with me from the time I’d been divorced and through my kids growing up. Sixteen years is a long time to have a friend. I’ve not talked about her a lot. In my family, animals were for outside and you don’t cry over them.

I know what the stink was in the fridge– an old onion in a baggie. Ironically, it didn’t take long to clean once I started.

A couple of weeks after I had decided I’d stay cat-free, a lady I know sent me a picture of a kitten. You see where this goes. “Pattycake” had a sister also, Dottie. My place isn’t quiet anymore. They are adorable little furballs.

I Have X-rays, But Not X-ray Vision

I’m looking through 18 pages of X-ray films from my MRI on Thursday. I’m to hand deliver them to my doctor, when I have my follow-up. The brain films make no sense to me it all. The one that starts from the back of my head and progresses through to the front of my face is either funny or slightly scary. I look like the angel of death in the last frame. A specter. But I still see nothing that makes sense. I almost didn’t do the MRI. My insurance has a deductible and on top of that is the 30% for diagnostic tests. So hello payments. Saint Francis and I will have a nice arrangement.

We grow

Through all of this ordeal, I thought I knew who I was. Some of that is a topic for another blog, like the fact that I’ve denied my chronic pain for years. My health issues have been completely overlooked in my mind. It’s surprising the things we don’t see of ourselves.

I’ve found surprisingly also that I’m more than that person. I’ve taken this in stride better than I expected I would. I haven’t panicked. I’m not afraid of some dire diagnosis. Really I just need a direction. Because I know it wasn’t what I had believed it had been for so long, migraines. Yes, I have migraines. And have had them since I was young. Sometime in my 30’s a different headache started. I felt similar, but different from the migraine, so I had no idea how to explain it. And when it recently didn’t go away, even after treating it for 3 months, I thought I might go psycho.

When I was in the MRI machine, the tech had asked me if I’d been in a wreck and twice he asked me if I had any pain running down my arm. This caught my attention. When I went through the neck scans I had an idea what I was looking for. And I think I’ve found it. I’m no doctor and I haven’t been in to have it confirmed, but the tech highlighted an area. There’s a narrowing in the spinal canal that looks like it’s the source of my problem. So BINGO. On a bad day, a long day, there’s tightness, swelling, and pain. Lots of pain. Make my head pop off, pain. Next step – follow-up with the doctor.

Not official

My unofficial self diagnosis is Cervical Spinal Stenosis. Let’s see how close I get. Oh, and one of the symptoms of this is clumsiness. Well anyone that knows me, knows that I stumble over ants. When I tried to put the X-ray’s away they all fell on the floor. They’re crazy to read and slippery to sort.  I’m glad they’re numbered or I’d feel I was in a Lucille Ball episode trying to put them in order again. Embarrassing. Hello Nurse. 

No Change

Would I be different if I wasn’t able to change things? I’m a bit spoiled in that most things in my life, I’ve had the ability to change. Sometimes it took persistence and work, but after the sweat and callouses, the job got done. But would I be different if, feel different, or give different advice if I couldn’t change things?

I’m a great believer in not accepting the status quo. If I have a problem, I research and try, try again to fix it. Even with my migraines, which I know aren’t curable, I still try to discover the missing link of why I have migraines. Surely something is wrong with my body.

Maybe I just overlook the things I can’t change. I don’t have a formula on how to decide what can be changed and what can’t but it’s probably not necessary. Let me know what you think.

Things I haven’t been able to change:

  • my gender
  • migraines
  • phobias
  • highly reactive personality
  • physical strength

Here’s an interesting book for my fellow introverts or anyone wanting to understand them. It has a little to do with the subject above, but I learned a lot from it.

Quiet

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Irrational Fears and Faded Memories

English: reflection of a camera shot in christ...
English: reflection of a camera shot in christmas baubles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been wavering about pushing myself or not.  I do push a bit. Maybe a little more than I should. I want to get things done. I don’t want to put any of my shiny baubles (my projects) down. Like the monkey in the story of how to catch a monkey fame, I have my hands full. And I want it all.

But I’m uncertain. Afraid to push myself. Afraid of getting a migraine. Of wearing myself out. I really don’t know what I’m truly capable of. Not yet at least.

Cue theme song

For a long time I tried to psychoanalyze myself, to cure my pain. Somehow I believed that the migraines were either subconscious or even a conscious way of avoiding trying. As if I didn’t want to succeed and was sabotaging my own efforts. With that theory, my mind reverts to a familiar memory. It’s like a theme song in the back of my life.

When I was in junior high, I was the first in line for our fitness test.  This was my first year in junior high and my first year to do any type of fitness testing. I was fairly athletic but tiny. We did our 1 mile jog around the gym. There was the jumps, long and short. A pegboard climb and the chin up. We lined up in alphabetical order. My last name started with a B in those days used to going first, so this was no big deal. The chin up bar was in front of me. It glared I’m sure. Taunting. The chin up was easy. Hanging not so bad. Continuing to hang for an extended length of time was boring. I felt awkward. People were staring, waiting, and eager to get to their turn. Impatient. And I felt the eyes of everyone on me. So I dropped.

Seth Godin mentions something about favorite memories in a recent blog. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/01/a-legend-in-my-own-mind.html 

“Everyone lives with self mythology. The more important a memory is to the story we tell ourselves about ourselves, the more often we rehearse the memory. And the more often we relive those memories, the less likely it is that they are true.”

This made we wonder about my vivid memory. How true is my belief and interpretation? I’m not trying. I give up. Am I really not trying? Is it because of fear or is there another reason? So I dig a bit deeper.

What if I stumble? What if I fall?

What if I try my very hardest and it’s not enough? What if I found the man of my dreams and I screw it up? I know this is a stupid question. I know it’s an irrational fear. I recognize it for what it is, but I also know that it’s there jeering at me. I hear the whispers it breathes. Yep, but I know it’s a lie. It’s a fictional story made up by the drama team to make a story more..DRAMATIC! It gives the story some punch. It’s like the music in the background of a scary show. It isn’t the truth, but it does color the truth brighter. How do I know this? Because no one succeeds the first time they step out in new territory. Not Lewis and Clark, not Abraham Lincoln, not Hillary Clinton, and not you and me. The first time is for measurement only. There is no line drawn in the sand when you begin. You can’t do better because you’ve never tried before.

Red Chihuahua poses for a photo, white chest f...
Red Chihuahua poses for a photo, white chest flash, male, with a pink wall, in La Purisima / San Isidro, West Coastal, Baja California Sur, Mexico (Photo credit: Wonderlane)

Going back to the memory that I replay over and over. When I believed the story I told myself (I don’t try hard enough), I felt I should have tried to hold the chin up a lot longer. I could have beaten all of their times, maybe. But I had no standard of how long I could hold it. No idea if I could do 10 minutes or 5. How could I? I had never timed myself. I was still a kid and didn’t have experience to know what is in me or what I should expect of me. That’s what the teenage years do for us. They help us see where our strengths and weaknesses are. And then we can work through them. Up until that time, you have no expectations of yourself. Or at least very few.

Thinking thinking always thinking

I realize that I think too much. I read too much into a symptom or an illness. Migraines just are. People get sick. We live and we die. It’s really all pretty simple. Until it gets complicated. And only we can complicate it. We put in our fears and expectations when life is really just about living and dying. In between we put in all the Shoulds and Musts until we have our own list of complicated Ten Commandments. Mine at times is like reading Leviticus in the Bible, The King James Version.

You are here X

So the first step I take doesn’t count. And if it counts, it only counts as a  measuring point. Each effort after that is to hone the process. Only after having a  starting point can you have any idea of where you are.

Third Eye Blind – Jumper

Here is a funny scene from Yes Man – Jumper Scene singing Jumper