Archives for category: pain

I slept in. It’s a lovely summer morning, before the heat sets in. Water is heating for coffee. Internal plumbing means I have hot water on tap for a refreshing shower, and air conditioning keeps the place comfortable for the heat of the day. I caught sight of a bunny down in the yard, from the deck this morning, as I watered. I’m not in any particular pain, right now. I feel good in my skin. So much goodness in this one moment.

A chipmunk grabs a quick bite before darting away.

A bit like small, timid, creatures expecting to be hunted, sometimes we handle our best moments fearfully, ready to dart away at the first “sign of danger”, waiting for disaster to strike, or convinced we don’t “deserve” it, or that it isn’t real. :-\

This morning? I’m just enjoying the moment, and this fine cup of coffee, which I’ve only now finished making. It feels like summer, and I am content to enjoy that. I’ll also note that “this”? It didn’t come naturally. I used to face all the good life had to offer me with terrible anxiety – certain that it would all be “taken away”. Soon. That perspective made it super hard to really relax, and really wholly enjoy myself. Contentment stayed out of reach. Happiness was largely out of the question. Life felt harder than it had to.

I’m not sure how to convince or persuade that there is another way, besides living another way, making other choices, and sharing my experience. Your results may vary. We each have to walk our own hard mile; we are each having our own experience. Still. This is a great place to begin a new journey. Or this. Hell, if you’re into reading, there are stepping stones and mile posts all along this path. Yes, it does require effort. Yes, it’s work you’ll do the rest of your life. I’m not trying to discourage you by calling it “effort” or “work”, either, just being real, reading about doing what it will take is not at all the same as doing the things it will take. Still… the effort, for me, has been very much worth it.

…It’s a lovely sunny day. My coffee tastes good. My heart is at ease. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I woke up abruptly, some minutes ago. I woke feeling frustrated, irritated, vaguely angry, impatient – a host of less than pleasant feelings crowding my consciousness. I felt as though I were in the middle of an argument. I felt as though I were not being heard. Definitely awake. Definitely “in the wee hours”. I laid awake awhile feeling my heart thump, hard, fast, as though I had been exerting myself. Breathless.

I got up, finally, to pee, to get something cold to drink, to “walk it off”, to “get some air”… I got up to breathe. To exhale. To let this shit go.

Initially, the house remained dark – suitable for the “middle of the night”, and avoiding waking anyone else. At some point, I remember I am alone right now, and turn on soft lighting, once it is clear sleep is not immediately at hand. I sit down to write, when it is also clear that “letting it go” wasn’t effortless in this moment – and was reminded of a conversation with a friend, earlier in the day. Human beings struggle. It’s not always an easy experience. We are beings of both emotion and reason; either one can be “a tad off”. Emotional wellness is important – as is our ability to reason in a rational, healthy way. They balance one another. They feed on each other. They inform each other. I experience feelings that source with my thoughts. Some of my thinking has its foundation in how I feel about an experience. Connections. We exist in context.

I breathe deeply. Exhale evenly, slowly. I relax, deliberately, willing my shoulders to drop back down where they belong (and wonder, again, what pulls them up so tightly, so uncomfortably). The experience of “hearing my heart thump” slowly diminishes, until what I am hearing is my typing. Some of this is about focus – what I pay attention to, becomes a larger part of my experience. We become what we practice. Doesn’t make it effortless. In fact, quite the contrary; it is the effort, the practice, itself, that creates the change being sought. Do the thing. Do it again. Keep repeating it. Eventually, it becomes part of who we are. “Easy” is not part of the process.

Another deep cleansing breath. Something icy cold to drink, seeking to cool off from the very subjective sense of being “too hot”.

…What the hell was up with my dreams?? I woke when I did, straight to being fully awake, no lingering in a dream, no recollection of the contents of my consciousness, before that moment when I woke, frustrated, irritable, and frankly a bit angry. What was that about? I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let it go – again. It’s literally not relevant to this moment, here, now, in the quiet and the darkness.

I look at the clock and wonder if I will return to sleep… it’s not quite 2:00 am, on a “work night”. I’d rather not be awake right now… but I clearly am. What to do about it matters less, for me, than not getting stressed out by whatever that outcome ends up being. The thought of returning to sleep causes some anxiety. Nightmares? Possibly. I take a moment of consideration and gratitude that I don’t remember them, if that’s what woke me. Could have been a noise… but the world seems quiet, now. Lingering on the “why” isn’t helpful, and obsessing over that holds potential to drive additional anxiety. Another breath. I exhale. Relax – again. Let it go – again. Have another drink of cold weird liquid – what the hell did I grab out of the fridge? I look more closely. Oh. A sugar free sports drink in a flavor I don’t care for. Hilarious. I continue to drink it eagerly; the cold of it is more soothing than the flavor matters at all.

…I could just stay up. Have a shower. Meditate. Do some yoga. Make coffee… The time would pass quickly, and it would soon be time to head to the office…

My mind sifts through various recent conversations with assorted colleagues, friends, family members, doctors… aimless fussing and wound-picking, unproductive, and not especially healthy. I let that all go, too. I have a thought, properly relevant to experiences of anxiety and wakeful nights, and grab my vape – works for my daytime anxiety, will it work now? I watch the cloud billow around my face, and dissipate. There’s a loveliness to it, illuminated by the glow of my monitor.

I frown, irritated by the recollection of a recent visit to the VA. New doctor. Young doctor. “Have you tried Tylenol?”, she asked (about my literal decades of chronic osteo-arthritis pain in my spine). I’m still annoyed. Seriously?? Was she fucking kidding me? Potentially one of the stupidest questions I’ve ever been asked about pain management, by a doctor. Have I ever tried _____? Lady, Doctor, if it’s over the counter, I’ve fucking tried it – or read the contraindications and recognized it isn’t for me. For fuck’s sake, really? Damn.

Oh. Is that what woke me? I’m still processing my anger and frustration with that appointment? Admittedly, I’ve avoided dealing with it. I keep trying to “let it go” without having to deal with it. That, folks, is called “skipping a step” and it tends not to be very effective – but grinding my gears over it, ruminating endlessly frustrated by it, is also not effective. Running from the emotions does not put them to rest – it just results in feeling as though I’m not being heard. (Because I’m not.)

There’s a solution here. I hit my vape again. I shift gears and head to my meditation cushion. Whether or not I sleep is no longer my concern. It’s about a bigger picture of self-care, and “feeling heard” is something that needs to begin with me.

Here’s a brief musical interlude to pass the time… 😉

Some time has passed. There’s still time for more sleep, if it comes to that. I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried. I feel relaxed. Content. Centered. I’m okay. This is one moment, of many. Just that. It’s not a bad moment, if I pulled it from life’s deck like a playing card; relaxed, content, safe, hydrated, secure in my home, secure in my relationships. There are no longer alarm bells going off in my head, and I am at ease, and comfortable in my own skin. The moment is altered and I change the music. I think of my far away Traveling Partner, still sleeping. I laugh, reminded that I am at home alone, and stream the music to the stereo in the living room, I turn it up, still mindful that the world (and my neighbor) sleeps. My thoughts travel briefly to a younger time in my life; I’d have run from this moment, pursuing any available distraction. Tonight? I pull myself back into my body, back into this “now”, and let the bass wash over me. “…Free the history…” I pick up my buugeng, and begin to dance, feeling my contentment mingling with the music, and the movement. (Your results may vary.)

Unexpectedly, in the middle of a moment, grief washed over me, unsolicited, unwelcome – and too real. It has been just 25 days since my mother died. So much has happened since then to distract me from that experience. I dropped to the floor weeping like a… like… well, like a grown ass woman, grieving the loss of her mother, honestly. It’s okay. There is no shame in these honest tears, and I am okay right now. This is real, and it is what it is. I needed this time alone, I suppose; real life has some things to tell me, things I need to hear. My heart needs to be heard – and I need to take the time to listen.

I cried for some little while. I’m okay with that; tears dry. As they do, I think about a shower, and coffee. It’s almost 3:30 am. The alarm will go off in an hour, and there’s little point in going back to sleep, now. 🙂 It’s already time to begin again. 🙂

A seed, planted in soil, isn’t much to look at. It takes a while to show itself as a seedling, longer still to amount to more. That’s the nature of growth, generally.

Given adequate growth, eventually, a flower.

I have my first sip of coffee. Still can’t drink it hot, but now that’s largely a matter of how cups work, because I’d prefer not to risk slopping hot coffee down the front of my shirt, and I’m still drinking with care, mouth partially open, avoiding the still-painful sensation any sort of suction causes. No longer forced to drink everything room temperature, I am enjoying it quite cold, and the coolness of the cold coffee feels nice against my wounded gum, at the edge of the hole where that molar used to be. I let my tongue very gently touch the edge of my gum… it’s not swollen, now, and doesn’t feel “hot” to the touch. Progress. Still quite tender, and I’m so over the constant eye on the clock, alert to the next interval at which to take still more Ibuprofen, to avoid more throbbing pain in my jaw. Any small miss on the self-care, and I pay for it in momentary misery. I’m grateful that I’ve already healed this much, so quickly, and so far it seems as if the perforation is going to heal, at least as far as I can tell, right now.

Healing processes take time. I have another soothing sip of ice cold coffee, grateful for the reminder that healing processes are also… not comfortable. Even painful. A timely reminder, coming so soon after my mother’s death. There, too, I have… “moments”. It comes and goes. I forget all about it, then, unexpectedly, I remember – and like this hole in my jaw that is not yet healed, I feel a vacancy that is tender, even painful, when I poke at it with my thoughts. Healing takes time, and it is not likely that I can “force the process”. It’s not even necessary. I smile at some fond recollection, taking comfort in that – like a sip of ice cold coffee coursing over my aching empty tooth socket.

“Why is it always about coffee with you? Damn.” I grin at myself. It isn’t, you know… sometimes I drink tea. Water. Occasionally some juice. More rare to have a small glass of something carbonated. Every now and then, a small glass of sherry or port. Mostly water. Mostly coffee. lol It’s not “about” any of that. Just a reliably handy metaphor suitable for this or that. 😉

I was pretty cross by the end of the day, yesterday. I’m feeling better this morning. Each morning, this painful bit of dental work seems to feel some better. 🙂 Reliably, at the end of the days, I am no longer at my best. It would be so easy to lose sight of real progress, just due to the experience of being fatigued at the end of the day, spoons all used up. So far, I’ve avoided any sort of major displays of ire. Having a supportive partnership, and a fairly satisfying life, generally, these days, helps a lot. I only mention that because there, too, there are choices involved. Choosing to remain in a shitty “partnership” with someone who is not in any authentic way a partner, would put me in a very different place in life. Struggling day-to-day just to meet basic survival and quality of life needs would likely jeopardize any sort of good recovery from illness or injury – if I could still afford to have such things taken care of at all. I sip my coffee and explore some moments of gratitude and appreciation for the life I have now. (There were choices, and good fortune and happenstance surely played a huge part in getting from “over there”, to “here, now”, too; it’s all worth appreciating.) So, I let being cross about discomfort fade, and sip my cold coffee, watching the sky lighten through the window of my recently-tidied-up studio, feeling grateful instead.

I notice the time, and stretch, and have another deep, long, drink of icy cold black coffee. Another day. More beginnings. A life to live. These small encouraging moments aren’t “world changing” in any notable way, I know. They have, however, changed my own experience of the world – and of life. That’s been worth it to me, and likely worth it to friends and loved ones who interact with me regularly (my deep enduring misery, bitterness, cynicism, anger, and pain, could be a massive buzzkill). Every time we lift ourselves out of our private hell, we make the whole world just that tiniest bit less mired in misery, overall. One less wounded soul, right? 😉 I finish my coffee, and get ready to begin again.

No point. Just flowers. 🙂

I spent yesterday pretty gently, relaxing at home, seeking small distractions to take my mind off this wound in my jaw (from a recent tooth extraction). I alternated between considerable pain, discomfort, and bitching about those – and the inconvenience of all that – and being mostly pretty okay, generally, aside from the occasionally more intense pain, and near-continuous discomfort. In any moment that I noticed I was not in considerable pain, I made a point to really notice that, and explicitly enjoy it. I found small distractions to take my mind off of the pain, whenever it seemed to worsen. My Traveling Partner helped with that, rather a lot.

Brunch with a friend helped; uncomfortably, but yeah, it was a nice distraction, in spite of my self-consciousness about trying to drink any sort of beverage in a public place without either causing myself more pain (and potentially prolonging the healing process) or dripping it all down the front of myself, awkwardly.

Time in the garden, observing the young praying mantises that have just hatched, renewed my joie de vivre more than once, over the course of the day.

…and, I just find them terrifically fun to watch.

We watched a favorite movie together, in the evening, and a variety of interesting video content from favored content creators. I read, played video games, and went out into the world once or twice – mostly just to take my mind off the pain of this healing process.

Healing processes can be painful. Read that again. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Take that in for a moment, it’s very real; healing processes can be painful. All kinds of healing processes, for all manner of wounds. Absorb that observation, and let it be a stepping stone to letting something go, and stepping off on a new beginning, if you can. 🙂

I’d honestly prefer that any given healing process be truly a matter of feeling reliably progressively better, moment-to-moment, but giving the matter some thought, and considering other wounds, other hurts, injuries incurred over a lifetime, I find myself inclined to be fairly certain that no particular healing process has been pain-free – or even reliably less painful in a clearly improving way, over time. It’s often been a matter of surges of increased pain, interspersed with considerable improvement, or even lingering significant chronic pain over a prolonged period that rather abruptly resolved at some later point. Some healing processes have even seemed to hurt worse than the original injury/condition, to get to an outcome that felt wholly better than I’d ever previously experienced. Weird, right? I mean, that healing hurts. That doesn’t seem intuitive to me, and I suspect my lack of preparedness and acceptance that healing processes can be painful, themselves, has held me back from healing most efficiently (and quickly), in some circumstances.

Yesterday had some seemingly excessively painful moments. I fussed about it. I fretted over it. I self-threatened to go back to the dentist this week so he can look in my mouth and tell me “yep, it’s coming along just fine” – because when I hurt, I doubt that it is. I forget, over and over again, that healing processes can be painful. lol

I think it complicates things that it is also needful to distinguish between the routine painfulness one might expect while healing from some kind of wound, and the painfulness of not healing – of getting worse – as from an infection of a wound that would ideally be healing. Damn it. Well, that results in a few more verbs, more awareness, more commitment to self-care, more presence, more attention to details, more non-attachment… Shit. Adulting is hard. I don’t like pain. So… having to sort out the pain of healing from the pain of “oh hey, this is getting worse, I should see to that”, and the pain of “this new thing” from “that chronic thing”, and the pain of “this’ll take a while to heal” from “holy crap that hurt just now, but it’ll pass quickly” is, sort of, um… a pain in the ass. LOL

I have a few contented swallows of cold coffee with my mouth half open (to avoid creating any suction in my mouth as I drink and swallow). I’m getting good at this, as small a thing as it is. (I was having trouble staying hydrated the first two days.) I’ve gotten the timing on the Ibuprofen down, such that I generally avoid any significant increase in pain between doses. I’ll be glad to stop taking it altogether; it’s not really a good choice for me, in the context of my general health.

Today feels some better, though… maybe it even actually is some better? I don’t actually know that, one way or the other. I know I am, in this moment right here, in somewhat less pain. 🙂 Good enough. Small steps. Small victories. Slow progress. I’m okay with that.

More of the same, today: small distractions, garden flowers, and slow progress.

Tooth extraction. I guess I’m more than a little grateful how far dentistry has come. It was, as suggested, not all that painful. Even getting the shots to numb the area was insignificant, pain-wise. The extraction, itself, was peculiarly… forceful. I mean, seriously? My dentist basically pulled a living tooth with no interest in being removed right on out of my jaw, where it was pretty permanently lodged, right? The amount of force required was… impressive. I couldn’t really feel anything but the pulling, and even now, I am ever-so-grateful for the advances modern dentistry has made. It got a tad grim when I could literally hear bone snapping, breaking free, and the taste of blood isn’t particularly pleasant. Still… no pain.

“…Oh, just one thing to cover before you leave… after we get an x-ray…” Yeah, well… okay. A “complication”. A small perforation of my lower sinus, which is, I guess, not an especially uncommon complication of an extraction of one of those back molars. I walked away, face beginning to ache, equipped with care instructions, and feeling very grown-up; I got through it, and it’s done, and I’m fine.

I arrived home. Relaxed for a few minutes with my Traveling Partner. Reviewed those care instructions… carefully. Wondered about what I’d be able to eat for the next few days. Frowned at the likelihood that it may be 2-3 weeks before I could vape again, or drink through a straw, or do literally anything that results in any notable amount of suction (trust me, this affects my quality of life! lol). I was pretty quickly overcome with a serious case of “I don’t actually care about any of this, actually”, and crashed out for a “nap”, that turned into about 18 hours of solid sleep, interrupted only long enough for interludes to sip water, sit up for a handful of minutes, go to the bathroom, and have a few very finely minced calories with great care. lol I still feel like I’ve been hit hard in the face, several times. I still taste blood, faintly. I’m still incredibly careful about every swallow of liquid, every bite of food.

…2-3 weeks??

Fourth of July. Well… no BBQ for me. I’m still “injured” enough that I don’t actually much care about that. I’m grateful for Ibuprofen; it’s getting me by nicely for pain management. My mouth “feels weird”. Talking, too, seems affected by the change in the shape of my mouth, the swollenness of my gum, and the pain in my jaw. I know it will pass.

…I think I’ll have another nap. LOL