Archives for posts with tag: arthritis pain

It’s a lovely autumn day. I’ve spent it on mindful service to hearth and home, and some pleasant opportunities to enjoy the company of my Traveling Partner. We both seem to be having a very good day. I’m enjoying that, unreservedly. I’m also in pain.

The forest beyond the deck, on an autumn morning.

If I allowed my physical pain to stop me from getting things done or enjoying my experience in every moment I am experiencing physical pain, I’d have to just give in. Do nothing. Enjoy nothing. Go nowhere. That doesn’t sound like the best possible way to experience life, so… mostly I choose differently. It sometimes feels like an endurance race. A test of will. A hex. Today? Today it feels like a lovely autumn day on which I happen to be in pain. Verbs. Choices. Practices. Self-care.

We each walk our own hard mile. Sometimes it’s not “well-paved” or “smooth and level”. Sometimes that hard mile is miserable, tedious, or painful. Sometimes it feels endless. Persist. Endure. Choose. Don’t like the outcome? Try choosing something else. Begin again. If every mile of this journey called life was easy, effortless, and on an obvious path, it would likely also be incredibly dull, and certainly there’d be damned little reason to grow, to learn, or to change. So… there’s that.

There’s also this pain, but… it’s wrapped in a sunny day, and I feel wrapped in love. 🙂 It’s enough.

My duplex neighbors were partying hard last night. I slept hard, but poorly. I woke, abruptly, at 6:30 am (on a Saturday), for no obvious reason. I got up and made coffee, waking my Traveling Partner, too. This morning I take a few minutes to wake up slowly, in the quiet of my studio. I can see the CPU fan on my computer spin; I don’t hear it over my tinnitus. I am in pain. My arthritis does not appreciate the higher humidity of recent days, and I ache. I’m stiff when I move. My head hurts. Rough morning, physically, and I’m a bit cross over it – thus the self-enforced moments of solitude, giving me a chance to be a better human being before I have a chance to snarl at my Traveling Partner over something pointless or petty. It’s a practice that works for me.

I get through the waking up portion of the day one practice at a time.

My “to do list” for the weekend is now sorted into “outside stuff” and “inside stuff”. I’m not certain why I bothered with doing that; it’s obvious from the listed tasks, and they were already grouped thusly. Simply proceeding down the list would like have been sufficient. Still, it seemed, in that moment, a distinction worth making. I was not yet entirely awake. lol

I sip my coffee, correct my posture, stand up, stretch, sit down, breathe, exhale, relax… and correct my posture again. It doesn’t do anything for the pain immediately. It’ll help later on if I’m not slumped over my keyboard like some sort of mythical writing monster.

I find my mind wandering to brunches out. I fucking miss brunch. lol Life in the time of pandemic… Brunch is the thing I think I miss most.

I gaze into my half empty coffee mug. I’m already thinking about a second cup. It’s already time to begin again. There’s an entire day ahead of me, and plenty to do. 🙂

This morning I woke to the sound of distant music. I couldn’t place the source. I turned over once or twice, thinking perhaps I might go back to sleep, once I wasn’t hearing it. It was faint. Ambient. Vaguely familiar. I finally sat up, wondering if my Traveling Partner was awake, quietly watching TV or something. There was a hint of light, under the bedroom door, so… maybe?

Well…shit. Now I’m awake. LOL

I got up, and made my way down the hallway in the morning darkness. No lights were on, there was only a hint of light from the front stoop, illuminating my studio through open blinds, which gave some small amount of light and the hint of an appearance (from within the dark of the bedroom) that a light could be on. (No lights were on.) I stood in the darkness, puzzled. The house was quiet. There was no music. I had stopped hearing it, as soon as I opened the bedroom door onto the utterly ordinary darkness of the house in the wee hours. Strange. I turned my head, and thought I heard something, again, like music… I shrugged off the inconsequential mystery and started to get ready for a new day.

I started making coffee, and it was then, while the grinder was running, that I heard the music again. It’s not music. Now I’ve sorted it out. Between my tinnitus, and the sounds of the fridge, and the aquarium, when the heat kicked on, too, I heard it; a hint of an impression of the sound of distant music. Frequencies of noise, blending strangely, and becoming vaguely musical. lol Damn it. That woke me? Wild. I sip my coffee, breathe, relax, and let that go. It’s not really relevant to anything else, at all. 🙂

I dress myself every day. I’m not bragging, most people do. I’m just saying, usually I feel pretty comfortable and satisfied with those choices. Easy enough. Today, weirdly, I just… don’t. LOL I’m not sure what I wanted out of wearing clothes today, but somehow… this isn’t it. LOL I’m feeling my years. I’m feeling my weight. I’m feeling aggravated by the sensations of fabric and constriction and confinement and… wtf? Oh. Hang on.  I breathe and let that go, too. I notice that my tinnitus is pretty loud today, just generally, and allow the awareness to become more real, as I listen to it. Okay, so, a quiet noise woke me, and my clothes “feel weird”. I give myself some self-care and attention. I listen to the woman in the mirror beefing about the weird of the day, and wonder how much is symptomatic of one issue or another. TBI or spinal injury… I guess I can take my pick, or admit that acknowledging the potential is enough to initiate heightened attention to my physical wellness and self-care needs today, and let that be enough.

A few minutes of meditation. More coffee. Neck pain. A headache. More self-care. Appropriate medication. A glass of water. The day, oddly, is beginning pretty well, in spite of whatever bullshit and weirdness is going on with my nervous system today. I’m content to enjoy the parts I can, and nurture the parts that need care, and just let the rest go. It’s enough.

One last swallow of coffee. One more quick scan of this moment, and this space, right here; do I have what I need for the day ahead? I guess it’s time to begin again. 🙂

Good moments pile up, if I let them. It can be a worldview-altering experience, if I’m open to it. 🙂 (Your results may vary.)

I’m sipping my coffee and thinking over last night. I’m awake a bit early. I woke ahead of the alarm, simply aware that I was awake. Wide awake. So… I got up. 🙂

Yesterday’s cold weather was “the first day of arthritis season” in all the worst ways, and I was in too much pain to go out, although I wanted to, and my Traveling Partner was eager to, himself. I hated to disappoint him, and seriously considered just doing it, anyway, figuring maybe the experience would overcome the pain…? I was pretty miserable, though, and thought better of it, choosing better self-care instead, on this occasion. His job may take him out of town again, soon, any time… I worry about “wasting the opportunity”, and then realize how “FOMO” that sounds… lol Adulting is so hard. 😉

I sit sipping my coffee wondering if I am under-dressed for the weather…? I shrug it off; once I’m in the office, I’ll be quite comfortable. 🙂 It’s probably my last good chance to wear this blouse to work before the weather turns “seriously cold” (c’mon, it’s Portland, Oregon, and “cold” is fairly relative – but it is 32 (F) this morning). I’m enjoying the experience of wearing dressier clothes for work… I didn’t think I would. In all the years since I left the Army, I’ve never taken a job that required me to (and am not required to now), and it’s appropriate for the job, my circumstances, all that sort of thing… I just don’t have to, so I hadn’t been. I’m enjoying it way more than I ever expected to.

I chuckle noticing my dress pants already don’t fit as well as they did when I bought them, less than two weeks ago (two weeks? that’s all??). That’s a “problem” I’m okay having. Losing a few pounds would be good, being fitter would be good, and this appears to be heading that direction. 😀

I feel as good, and as comfortable, this morning, as I can imagine feeling. I hope the feeling lasts, but of course “this too shall pass” also applies to this moment, as much as any other. I eye the warm fleece zip-up jacket I’ll wear as a coat this morning, and think about shopping for a new winter coat. Overdue. I check over my everyday carry items, in my head (keys, cards, purse, phone, vape, batteries for my vape, juice for my vape, hey – a lightweight winter base layer I could slip on under dress pants, just in case I am colder than I expect…), then double-check my backpack to make sure I have everything. I’m minutes away from another new beginning, a fresh, unspoiled day, filled with potential.

Sometimes this whole “adulthood” thing is pretty okay… I smile, finish my coffee, and begin again. 🙂

I hurt today. I hurt when I woke up this morning. It’s autumn, leading into winter, the weather is chill and damp, and the arthritis in my spine is delivering on the annual promise of pure nearly unrelenting misery for the winter for the moment.

Perspective is a funny thing; we build our subjective experience on a web of sensations, assumptions, wishful-thinking, and straight up lies we tell ourselves, which, over time seem very convincingly true and real. We rarely pause to reconsider any of it, and sort of just bumble along thinking we’re right, most of the time. So… it’s not true.

I’m not always in pain. I’m not even always in pain all winter, ever winter. I’m certainly in pain more often I’d like. I’m most definitely in pain right now.

Three paragraphs about pain. Not one about pain management. lol Fuck pain. Pain shrinks my world down to the size of wherever it hurts, and keeps my attention there, to the exclusion of most anything else. That, sadly, has a lot to do with how, over time, my implicit experience of my quality of life, and my day-to-day expectations of my experience to be, is about pain. I’m focused on my pain right now, and that pain becomes a defining characteristic of the memory of this moment, and, again, over time, that adds up to a long-term perception that my life, itself, is defined by my pain.

It is not.

Pain is a small wee minuscule tiny barely significant part of my experience when I allow myself to experiences and observe other things besides just my pain.

I’m not suggesting this is easy. I even admit, my results vary; today I am in pain.

So… now what? Take fuck tons of pain-numbing drugs? Not my preferred solution, honestly. Ignore it? That’s far easier to say than to achieve. So… what, then? Other things. 

Yeah…like, I mean a lot of other things. I mean, taking a break from the work routine long enough to really engage a colleague in a great discussion of any other thing than either routine work matters, or my pain. Or their pain. Or pain at all. I also mean, taking a break from sitting at my desk, and giving myself a chance to move and walk around. Have a big glass of water. Read something I’ve never read before. Write love poetry.

It’s about the distraction from being trapped in the wholly subjective experience of the context of long-term pain challenges; it doesn’t have to hurt this much. So, right now, at least for some little while, I put my attention on matters other than pain. It’s not the easy choice; pain makes my world tiny, and utterly self-involved. Looking beyond that is… hard.

I guess I need to begin again. 😉