Archives for posts with tag: arthritis pain and suffering

It took awhile to get here, today. At this point, I am relaxed, content, and more or less comfortable. I spend the day in pain, working, doing the things needing to be done, dodging interruptions and distractions as well as I could – some of them are my own doing, purely a product of being human, and enjoying that moment of connection with other humans. I probably need a few of those, anyway. 🙂 The commute home was routine. Nothing terrible… well… no more so than usual, and somehow less aggravating.

Today was fairly shitty. It was hard, and I hurt all day. It was hard to smile. It was an effort not to complain. It was a struggle to fight back tears, more than once. I feel awkward and graceless on my cane. I feel old to be struggling with pain, and mobility challenges. Did I mention what a shitty day it was? I was mired in it all day.

I endured. I mostly endured through successful application of a favorite very portable practice (and I’m pretty sure that this particular practice, in part, resulted in the better-than-average commute experience, just saying). It’s too simple. Please don’t laugh…

It’s hard to stay angry or be annoyed with life when I am experiencing gratitude. Just that. Feelings are tricky, though, and faking it doesn’t work. I start with things that seem obvious to appreciate – and I take a moment to appreciate them. Continue until I’m not in a bad mood. Repeat as needed. It’s not any more complicated than that, really, although it can take a bit of practice to get comfortable and easy with it; sometimes it feels like I really want to be mad about shit. That’s hard to let go of.

I start with something immediate and in-the-moment… some small comfortable detail that, by itself, isn’t crappy at all. Like… looking out the window at the office to the workers on the roof across the way; I’m not working outside in the wind and cold. Yeah, okay – I’m grateful for climate controlled indoor work, for sure. Oh, and indoor plumbing, and potable drinking water from a tap any time I want it. The rest room at the office stocks feminine hygiene supplies. I don’t need that stuff on this side of menopause, but I really appreciate that we provide such obvious basic necessities. I value the basic day-to-day courtesy and consideration of our work culture. I have a coworker who sits near me who good-naturedly lifts my spirits on the regular with light-hearted banter. I am grateful for the decency and humor of my colleagues. On it goes. I can continue to list things I am grateful for, until gratitude has filled me up entirely and I have no room for anger, irritation, or surly bullshit.

One note of caution; this is a positive thing, this gratitude thing. I find it more effective to focus on positives for that reason, so, while it is definitely worth being grateful that I don’t have malaria (and it’s amusing to say as much, in any number of contexts), it’s sort of askew from the point of the practice. More useful, perhaps, to note that I am grateful to have had anti-malarial drugs available when I did work in an area that put me at risk of getting it… an observation that tends to lead me down the path of other medical tools, practices, experiences, skills, and medications which I am grateful exist. Yay! More gratitude. That’s the thing with being grateful for the lack of something, or the negation of something else; it’s hard to build on a negative without slowly becoming more negative. Well… that’s my own experience. Your results may vary. Negativity definitely has more comedic potential, if that’s what you are going for. I just wanted to feel better, and enjoy my experience more easily while enduring so much pain.

I got home still managing my pain with little more than my positive attitude. Medication was a huge, if not immediate, relief. It’s an Rx pain reliever tonight. I feel grateful to have it available. I feel grateful that it works. I feel grateful that it ensures I can get some better quality rest (it’s hard to sleep through pain).

I’m grateful that tomorrow I can begin again.

Fucking hell, this is some real shit, right here.

I woke early – 3:38 am – no alarm. Had to pee, not an uncommon mammalian or primate thing at all, it happens. I wasn’t awake enough, quite, to realize that this moment would cascade into other small unpleasant experiences, like dominoes toppling, each less comfortable than the previous moment leading to it. Having to pee was easy to resolve… then it was all about my sinuses draining… then I became aware of the headache… my pounding heart… the breathless feeling… Why the hell was I “holding my breath” like that in the first place??? Right. Pain. I’m betting it was actually the pain that woke me, because as it turned out, I really didn’t have to pee that badly, certainly not badly enough to wake me from a deep sleep. It is, perhaps, habitual to immediately head in that direction if I wake during the night, at all. lol

Fuck, I am in so much pain, already, today. It’s not yet actually even time to begin the day. :-\ The world is quiet, and there is no sound of traffic, or the existence of humanity beyond this keyboard, and this monitor, right here. It is just now 4:30 am, on a Saturday morning. I could be sleeping… if I were not awake. I hurt too much to feel sleepy. I may as well begin the day… for some values of “beginning”. I made coffee. 0_o

Realizing, after the first sip, that coffee does not, in any way, address pain, and pain being, in fact, the issue at hand, I drop an ice-cube in my coffee and let it melt on my way to the shower, and chug it before I step under the steamy hot water…

…A shower, some yoga, and yes, actually, another shower after that… and generous application of medical cannabis (both as a topical balm, where I can reach painful places, and vaporized)… I make coffee number two, and sit down to write, hopeful that I may find adequate relief without reaching for an Rx pain reliever. 5:52 am. Still far earlier than today needed to begin. lol Fuck – how is this much pain even a thing? Is this really fucking necessary? I know I have arthritis – what fucking help is all this pain?? What could it possibly be telling me that has any value, at all? Damn. Well… the coffee, the yoga and the shower eased the headache pain. That’s something. No headache. I pause to sip my coffee and appreciate that for a long moment. I do not have a headache, right now. Nice. I’ll take it.

Next? Distraction. Cognitive trickery – totally fair game, and a worthy practice. 🙂

Yesterday was lovely. I did not shop. I did not buy. I chilled at home, mostly just looking out onto the deck, sipping coffee, or tea, or reading a book. I’ve been somewhat disappointed since I moved in to see creatures so seldom. I mean, I’ve seen bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, a rather large raccoon, but birds have been fairly rare, aside from seeing them fly by now and then. The one squirrel visitor who seemed to be regular was only interested in the bird seed I had hoped would be, you know, for the birds. lol I switched to putting out a small dish of whole peanuts, on an irregular basis, and an ear of dried corn in a hanging feeder that the squirrel could more safely get to. I haven’t seen the squirrel back, but the dish has often been quickly emptied, and the cob stripped far faster than I had expected, fairly often. Yesterday, spending hours just watching (and hours that are generally spent in the office, far away), I finally got to see how things go, here on the deck. Apparently, things don’t get going until around 11 am, in the late autumn.

A beautiful Steller’s Jay stopped by for a peanut… or… several. lol

I watched the jay coming and going for quite a while. Then, a female jay joined him. Then, a pair of robins stopped by, not interested in the peanuts, but feeling safe to check out the soil in all the pots for tasty things. A hummingbird snacked on each remaining blossom in the garden, which is to say, some nasturtiums in the hanging baskets, and some blooms left on Baby Love, a miniature rose that doesn’t appear to give a damn about the season, and blooms almost year round. A small woodpecker visited a tree just beyond the deck, and the hawk I often hear circling overhead took a seat in a tree top within view. I sat, delighted, for an hour or two (or more…?).

I sat long enough, aware, and patiently observing, to begin spotting dens, nests, burrows, and bowers.

It was time well spent. It was just at the moment I first considered getting up to go “do something” that my last visitor came around.

…my squirrel visitor is nibbling on my tarragon…

I sit quietly, sneaking an occasional picture, hoping not to startle the squirrel, who still seems very shy. Eventually, my wee visitor makes its way to the corn feeder, first checking the empty dish for peanuts (the jays got them all).

…I’m glad to know for sure the squirrel knows the feeder is there. 🙂

The sinking sun was already beginning to change the color of the forest beyond the deck. I smile to myself to see that I’ve used the word “forest”, even now that I can so clearly see it’s really only a strip of trees, a bit of grass, and then the backs of all the houses another street over. lol Those Big Leaf Maples really provide a dense wall of greenery in spring and summer, quite delightfully private.

There are things to love about this place and time. It is worth being here, now.

…And… It’s worked. A bit of distraction, lingering on the recollection of something quite pleasant, looking through the pictures, sharing it with you, in words, here… I don’t hurt as much. I’ve had a chance to benefit from the yoga, the shower, and taking medication. My consciousness isn’t saturated in information to do with pain, or sensations of it. I can move on with the day, and maybe fairly comfortably. It’s not magic. There are verbs involved. My results vary. But… today it is enough, and I can begin again. 🙂

 

 

I woke with difficulty this morning, and didn’t sleep well. I don’t hurt as much now as I did when I went to bed. The twinges of arthritis pain that begin the day are likely to be a sign of more pain, later on. It’s hard to be anything other than uncomfortable – just the physical discomfort itself, is uncomfortable, I mean. Kind of obvious, I know. It’s just that my mind, foggy with the struggle to fully wake up for the day, is focused on other things (if it can be said to be focused at all, just yet).

House hunting moves forward a step at a time. The work week continues. Lunch with a friend sometime this week. An evening with my Traveling Partner, maybe even tonight. Days. Days filled with moments. I remind myself to make a doctor’s appointment. Then I just go ahead and make it, online, rather than stalling still/again.

A fairly ordinary Tuesday begins here. A quiet morning like so many quiet mornings, a cup of coffee, a few minutes writing, some time for meditation, a few minutes tidying up before heading to the office… the days are days. What changes is my perspective, and my choices.

Today is a good day to begin again. I know there will be verbs involved. I know that I am having my own experience. With some practice, today is enough. 🙂

Thinking about the future. “Here it comes…“. It is a morning with a theme song. 🙂 It’s also 4:30 am. So… a theme song, and headphones. Again this morning I am thinking about the reality and the fantasy, considering options, considering needs, considering what it takes to take care of me, over time. What do I really need, versus what do I yearn for but can so easily do without? I continue to plan this next move, and in the planning I find my anxiety and stress about it greatly reduced.

I ended the evening last night in great pain. Yoga, physical therapy, acetaminophen, medical cannabis, a hot soak in Epsom salts, meditation… I did the things, it was still a struggle. I managed to avoid reaching for Rx pain relief, though, which is a win. I woke without much pain, in spite of the very rainy morning and the chill in the air. My calves ache from muscle cramps during the night, a weird new development along life’s journey. The thought distracts me with the idea of pain, and I find myself mentally listing all the things that hurt, or are uncomfortable, and before I know it – I’m completely immersed in the experience of pain, and actually hurt more than I did minutes ago. We really do create a lot of our experience with the power of our thoughts and our words.

I take a moment to breathe, relax, and let go of (at least the thought of) the pain. I set a reminder to call my doctor for an appointment to discuss changes in my health, and pain management in the coming winter months. What’s to be done about the neck fracture recently identified in X-rays and a CT scan? That’d be good to know…

Pain again? Damn it. I change the music to something more defiant. Sometimes it helps to tell pain to fuck right off. No bullshit. I have an entire playlist of music with big beats and great grooves that all basically tell someone, or something, to fuck right off with great enthusiasm. Some days defiance is what it takes to move past the pain. I remind myself to be very mindfully aware of the things that don’t hurt, and the moments I am not in pain – however brief. Soaking in those experiences, savoring them, appreciating them fully helps preserve the memory of not hurting, and improves my implicit experience – otherwise, over time, I’d slowly lose touch with having any experience other than pain. This morning, I teeter on the edge of pain; when I am not thinking about it, this morning, I don’t hurt nearly as much.

This morning is a good one for music and dancing, for yoga and another cup of coffee, for meditation (on a timer – it’s a work day!), and for taking care of me. On the other side of the work day… a quiet evening. In between: rain, meetings, spreadsheets, questions, an important task hand-off, deep-diving some puzzles, lunch, thoughts of love, a couple miles of walking, and a new look at a view of the city I love. Each day a new beginning, a step on a much longer journey to becoming the woman I most want to be.

Every day has its own qualities, its own joy, its own suffering. Begin again.

Every day has its own qualities, its own joy, its own suffering. Begin again.

Up at 4 am works for me; I don’t fight it. There’s time for coffee, time for words, time to change the tone of the morning, and regain the leisurely feel of the morning that I enjoy so well. Today is a good day to take care of this fragile vessel that serves me so well. Today is a good day to slow things down a little bit and enjoy the morning without rushing. Today is a good day to embrace what matters most: perspective, mindfulness, sufficiency – and love. 🙂

I woke during the wee hours of the night struggling with anxiety. It felt extreme, and compared to my state-of-being lately, I suppose it was. I struggled to return to sleep, dozing, and waking again later, still anxious. Meditation and managing my breathing would return me to sleep, briefly, only to wake again in this fog of tension, with this knot in the pit of my gut, and a diffuse feeling of dire… something. It was rather too literally dreadful.

I woke for the day still feeling it. I checked my heart-rate, my blood pressure; both high, which from a practical sense tells me nothing much; it is reasonable that my blood pressure and heart-rate would be high, feeling this anxious. What I don’t know is which is causal – the symptoms, or the anxiety? Knowing that it can go either way has been meaningful on past occasions, when it became clear at some point that my anxiety was a wholly physical experience, unrelated to any legitimate threat. This morning? No obvious “threat” anywhere…but there are some things I could predictably understand to be somewhat anxiety provoking; I’m not at work. What I if I made a mistake in an important log file, and some import failed? It’s a holiday. I am not available to resolve it. See? That could cause me to feel anxious. (New job – three-day weekend already? If I’m honest, that could do it, too.)

I was still turning over the anxiety puzzle in my thoughts when I headed to the kitchen to make coffee… and noticed my pain. Yep. This morning “an old friend” returns; I am in a lot of pain today.

It’s a lovely morning outside, autumn arriving, and no rain today – and although I’ve been hoping for some great hiking weather, this morning I’m fairly irked to find that the very hike-able morning arrives with a noteworthy amount of physical pain. I don’t allow myself to be surprised by it; my arthritis responds to changes in the weather, and the cooling temperatures over the autumn weeks are definitely associated with increased pain. So. What to do about it, though?

Pain makes my world smaller. I look out the window at the beauty of autumn, the changing colors of the trees on the other side of the park. I’d like to want to go hiking among the trees. What I want more is to hurt less. Anxiety? Maybe – it could be pain causing that, too. It’s been quite a while since I hurt this much, it’s no surprise to me that it would bring with it an emotional reaction, or that the reaction du jour would be anxiety. I sip my coffee, awake, aware, accepting that I am in pain (at least for now). The anxiety begins to diminish as I more fully acknowledge the pain I am in for myself.

Squirrel

One squirrel’s favorite breakfast spot.

The morning is too choice not to at least go for a short walk, new camera (phone) in hand… I swear softly under my breath when I turn to get a better look at a squirrel enjoying a bite of breakfast from a handy vantage point in a nearby tree. We often watch each other just this way – I like to think it is the same squirrel every time, but honestly, we’ve not met formally, and I can’t say for sure. Turning to move, the pain catches me by surprise again; I’ve forgotten how it limits my range of motion. I remind myself how much more important my morning yoga just became; starting the day any other way just prolongs the worst of the pain. I remind myself, too, to fully appreciate how much less pain I’ve been in, generally, over the past many weeks that this is so startlingly suck-tastic today. (Failing to do so results in less awareness of pain-free moments, and develops a strong implicit bias that suggests I am “always” in pain, which tends to become quite uncomfortably true, over time. )

A lovely morning for a journey.

A lovely autumn morning suitable for walking waits on the other side of all this pain.

I begin laying out the practices mentally… a hot shower, yoga, a healthy lean breakfast, physical therapy stuff, a walk in the park – at least 2 miles if I can manage it – but what to do about the pain? My brain refuses to give up on the pain, urgently wanting a magic bullet, an easy fix, something to be done right now. It has become the focus of the moment. I realize that it has tainted even my writing, and become my everything, for now. Unpleasant, and uncomfortable. I’m irritated with the pain, and no longer anxious. It’s just… verbs. The verbs are required or the pain will most surely persist as it is. Appropriate application of the most useful verbs will ease the pain a lot – there is no assurance that it will be completely “fixed”, although it will eventually ease enough to become inconsequential, with fair certainty. I’ve got to do the verbs, though… I hurt, even thinking about it.

Well, shit… Today is a good day to do the verbs. Today is a good day to take action and make change happen. Today is a good day to remember “this too shall pass” and “it could be much worse”. Today is a good day to take care of this fragile vessel. Some days the journey is by steps, not by miles. 🙂