Archives for posts with tag: pain and pain management

It was a lovely weekend at home. We had a bit of a snow shower yesterday, and enjoyed a quiet day at home celebrating my Traveling Partner’s birthday; one more of the “winter holidays” to enjoy. πŸ˜€ We had a delicious stir-fry for dinner (one of his favorites; bell peppers and beef), and for dessert pumpkin pie (at his request). We hung out, enjoyed each other, and watched the snow fall most of the day, although it didn’t stick much at our altitude, and was gone as the late afternoon “warmth” was enough to turn it all to rain (and mud). I baked shortbread cookies in the afternoon, while my partner tinkered in his shop.

The first snow this year, here.

This morning, my day started quite gently and pleasantly. Good coffee. Quiet lo-fi on the stereo. I’d been up for hours when my Traveling Partner woke. He let me know he did not sleep well. He seems cross and quite out-of-sorts with the world, at least for now, and says he did not sleep well. I offer my sympathy and an expression of regret, as I head to my studio (where I generally write, and turn my attention inward, seeking – if nothing else – to avoid “poking the bear”, and hoping to give my partner some quiet time in which to fully wake up and get his shit together).

My writing is interrupted by my Traveling Partner, who is still feeling cross and annoyed to have slept so poorly. He asks me in an aggravated tone to check my oxygen (using the pulse oximeter feature on my phone). At 99% it’s better than usual, and my attentive upright posture at my desk is intended to support good breathing and also help minimize the pain I’m in. He didn’t ask that question, and yes, I’m in enough pain this morning to have taken an Rx for that almost first thing. I have little enthusiasm for dealing with relationship stress stemming from my pain and his lack of sleep this morning. My solution to the challenges of the morning? Get the hell out of the house, taking my laptop over to the co-work space I generally work from on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s a location suited to writing and there’s plenty of coffee available, too.

My arthritis pain this morning is a big contributor to why I chose to simply, quickly, and without fuss get the fuck out of the house as soon as I could; I can manage my pain and my anxiety, but I’m not likely to be easily able to also “manage” (meaning support or account for) his today, too. Seemed the wiser choice to just get the hell out of each other’s way for a while. For sure my writing does not benefit from nagging or vexed interruptions, and neither does my temperament.

…Damn, though… the coffee is so much better at home. LOL

…Yeah, this coffee is so bad it is distracting. LOL Fuck office coffee. LOL

My partner pings me to let me know he misses me. Also to ask about my recent lab results. I take a look, and find myself almost immediately stymied by the VA’s health website. Nothing unusual; their technology and user interface is not exactly state-of-the-art. Funny thing, though; even this small change to my medication (I’m already calling my beta blocker my “chill pill”) has noticeable results even with small day-to-day frustrations. My partner’s morning grumpiness? Not so big a deal – I’ll just get out of his way while he wakes up. No problem. Can’t log into this website or that tool? Meh. I’m over it already and it’s fine; I’ll just do something else and try again later. Not a big deal. Only… these are precisely the sorts of everyday challenges that could upend my entire experience and send me spinning off course, so easily! No tears this morning. No tantrums. Just… moments. Nice change. πŸ™‚ It’s not “everything”, but it’s something – and that’s enough. One step at a time. Incremental improvements will add up. πŸ˜€

I sip my coffee and think about the holidays. The tree is up. There are holiday lights on the mantelpiece. There is a Giftmas pudding awaiting its moment. Holiday cards have been sent. The first snowflakes have fallen. Thanksgiving and my Traveling Partner’s birthday are both behind us. There’s no great pressure on the Yule holiday-to-come; we plan for it to be a moment on the calendar, enjoyed warmly, wrapped in love, and characterized more by the festive morsels and holiday cookies than any great number of gifts. We’re focused on other things this year. There will be some small budget for gift-giving, but more of a token of the holiday than a prominent feature is what we’ve discussed. πŸ™‚ I’m even (more than) okay with that. It’s where we are right now.

Giftmas glow. Glad tidings. Happy Home.

I sit for some minutes more. I breathe in and take stock of how I feel. I breathe out and let go of lingering anxiety. I repeat this several times, slightly different iterations with each breath. I breathe in and feel a sense of place within my body. I breathe out and let go of tension I feel in my shoulders, in my back. I breathe in and listen to the quiet of this office place. I breathe out and feel my contentment spread. In. Then out. Just breathing. I “pause” (not the breathing, just the focus on it) to write every now and then. A paragraph. A sentence. A thought. I add a link. I add an image. I look the whole mess over. I resume my observations and my breathing exercise. Back and forth. Breathing. Sipping coffee. Writing. I feel my body and my mind begin to “meet in the middle” feeling more contented and relaxed as I proceed. This is what I was working on when I started the morning. It’s nice to find my way back and “finish what I was doing”.

…It would be nice if the weather were sufficiently pleasant and mild to get a good long walk in…

I think about the day ahead. It’s a day off, although it is a Monday. This feels very luxurious to me. Any time I take a Monday off, specifically, it feels so luxurious. πŸ˜€ I’ve a small number of things on my to-do list today – some laundry (just putting clean stuff away), and some tidying up. It’s planned to be a very relaxed day. I hope I succeed there. πŸ™‚ Maybe I’ll bake more holiday cookies…? Maybe I’ll read, or study, or paint…?

I’ve already used one “do over” this morning – it’s good to get comfortable with embracing new beginnings. Useful tool in a chaotic world. Already time to begin again. πŸ˜€

My morning started too early. The air compressor in my Traveling Partner’s shop “went off” in the wee hours (it hadn’t been shut off the night before, after the work day was completed). Well, shit. I was awake, wasn’t I? He wasn’t, though. I got up quietly, dressed, grabbed my laptop and workday shit, and quietly slipped out of the house, hoping he would be able to sleep in.

I woke feeling a complex stew of crappy emotions. Frustration, sorrow, fragility, the threat of imminent tears without cause or point, anxiety – stress – filling my morning like this Americano fills the cup on my desk. All the way to the fucking top. It’s not a helpful addition to the pain I also woke up in. I’m cranky from being awakened by an unpleasant noise first thing in the morning, too early, on the heels of a bad dream. I’m cross because… I don’t know, just because. I mostly just want to put my head down on this deck in this co-work space and cry for awhile. This coffee isn’t going down very well, and my stomach is sour over it. What a rough morning.

I know, I know, “begin again”… but… it’s easier when it’s easy, you know? Right now, it’s not so easy, and I’m feeling fussy like a toddler with an attitude problem. My “inner adult” knows better, and some of my stress sources in the conflict between that worldly experienced woman with a job to do, and the frustrated fussy little kid that lingers within me.

This lives in my saved images for mornings like this…

I’d like today to be easy. Relaxed. Productive. I’d like to “kick ass” on the job today. I’d like to “win big” at life today. I’d like to be my best self, every moment. In this moment, I don’t know what that looks like. My poorly managed physical pain on top of my poorly managed background anxiety have combined to make me a fairly shit human being right now, hard to be around, cross, irritable, unpleasant, with a seriously dark sense of “humor” that isn’t funny. Looks like a long work day ahead, too – not because I’ve got so much to do, more because I sense that I’m not someone my partner is going to want to be around, in the shape I’m in. May as well spend that time working.

I sit here seething. Sipping coffee. Feeling the tears pooled just at the edge of my eye lids, not falling, not going away. Therapy tomorrow… I can do this, right? I can stretch one day to the breaking point, collapse into a deep sleep, and drag myself back to the office, and then on to my appointment…? That works, right?

Fucking hell. Some days being human just fucking sucks all the god-damned dicks. :-/ Well. I guess I’ll do my best – whatever that is today, and then try again tomorrow. The clock keeps ticking on this mortal lifetime… It’s not easy, but…

…It’s definitely time to begin again.

It’s a good Tuesday to work from the co-work space. It’s a good day to follow-up on outstanding applications for positions I could be a good fit for. It’s a good day to submit new applications on new leads. A good one to study new skills and new tools, or refresh an out-of-date credential. I’m seated comfortably. My equipment is working. There’s just this one detail that is amiss; I’ve got a massive headache, and it’s quite the distracting nuisance.

I breathe through it. Take breaks. Hydrate. Stretch. Take a headache remedy. Get a walk in. Correct my posture. Have a coffee. Focus on other things. I mean, for real, I’m just throwing solutions at this fucking headache and hoping for the best. lol I’m pretty glad I’m not in my office at home, while my Traveling Partner is working on complex design and problem solving tasks. He’s very sensitive to my “state of being”, and neither of us needs this headache pinging on our consciousness at all. I can, at least, take it out of his environment and do my thing elsewhere. So, that’s what I’m doing. He’s further free to focus on work because I had not even mentioned the headache at any point this morning before starting “the work day”, so it’s not on his mind as a concern even in the background. πŸ˜€

…I’ve got a bit of a case of the blues, though I suspect it’s just one more byproduct of this fucking headache, so I work on letting it go and not taking it personally. It’s an uphill fight today; the headache keeps dragging me down. I keep clawing my way back to a positive perspective. (I remind myself that this headache will pass.)

I have an amusing moment, as I sit working; my keyboard speed (on this manual keyboard) is distracting to the two dudes sitting near me (one of whom is staring into a boldly colored spreadsheet, the other appears to be scrolling up and down in some massive list of things). They shift uncomfortably, the faster I type. I am distracted by their being distracted. LOL One finally turns to me and says out loud “wow, you really get going on that keyboard…”. I look up, unsure at first if he is talking to me, then smile politely and reply “yeah, I’ve heard that” and get back to business.

…This fucking headache, though, g’damn…

Between the headache and my arthritis pain, today, I’m really struggle with “the blues”. I remind myself that it is the pain, and that these are common feelings. Humans hurt. Humans struggle. Humans feel. It’s not personal, even when it very much feels like it is. I keep fighting the distraction. Keep returning to the tasks in front of me. Keep working to “lift myself up”. Processes and practices. Having the luxury of being able to invest my time in self-care is pretty handy. It would be lovely to have the security of employment and a steady paycheck right now, yes, but… it’s also pretty nice that I am not having to choose between self-care and work right now. (Although it’s fair to define the job search and continuing education stuff as “work”, it’s very much self-paced, and no pressure.)

I recently heard from two very dear old friends. The Goth Technician and The Author replied to email I had recently sent of the “how are things?” variety. Makes me smile even now, though I read those emails and replied quite some time ago. It’s the connection. There is so much value in our human ability to connect with each other, even over email. It prompts me to send another friend and email – it’s been too long – and yet another. Somehow, these don’t aggravate my headache at all, as though to direct my attention to building and maintaining relationships, and away from task-processing like a machine. πŸ™‚ Something to reflect on? Probably.

I sit sipping my water, thinking about lunch time (which I plan to spend at home with my partner), thinking about sunrises and new beginnings, and thinking about… this fucking headache. LOL Very distracting. I definitely need to begin again. πŸ™‚

Every sunrise is a new beginning.

I am in an unreasonable amount of pain today. I can’t argue with the experience; it’s the one I’m having. Physical therapy-recommended exercises often help. Not so much today. Staying active, or distracting myself, works a lot of the time to reduce my subjective experience of being in pain. Today the pain just seems to color every experience. Sometimes medication dulls the pain. I guess I’m grateful that it probably did do that, today, although I’m not sure I feel that…I’m fairly sure it could be worse. My Traveling Partner has his own experience – both with his own pain, and of course having to exist alongside mine. That’s got to suck.

Meditation could help… sometimes it helps a lot. Today it’s just another box I ticked on the “list of things to do about pain”. Down the list I went. Some things helped somewhat. I’m doing my best to be okay with that and not lash out at “the world” over the pain I am in. There’s no “fault” in this here-and-now experience of pain. It is what it is. Uncomfortable. Limiting.

My world shrinks when I am in this much pain… so… I spent a portion of the evening in an altogether different world, in Minecraft. My world. My way. My peculiar blocky homes and wanders, walkways and walls, tunnels and staircases… for a couple hours I am elsewhere. Oh, sure, I still hurt… but, I’m not focused on that; I’ve got a glass tower to build, or a pyramid, or a terra cotta tile floor to lay, or…

…There are verbs involved. Doing the verbs does not guarantee a particular outcome, or offer any assurance of success – it’s just that not doing them definitely limits the chances of getting that outcome or success, at all. So… verb verb verb verb. Even in Minecraft.

I just keep at it. One moment, one day at a time. This happens to be the struggle I’ve got. It’s maybe not that big a deal for someone else… they’ve got their own struggles. Maybe pain isn’t one of those. Maybe it is. We’re each having our own experience. Each walking our own path. What’s odd, I think, and also kind of … hopeful? Is that we’re also each sharing some basics of lived human experience that can allow us to look upon one another with compassion, empathy, and fond regard – if we let ourselves. We “get it” – maybe we’ve “been there”, or just understand through similarity. Handy. Sometimes it’s hard being human… feeling lonely on top of that just suuuuuuuuuuuucks. Let’s not do that. Share. Listen. Be open to “being there” for someone else. Be there for yourself, too. (Definitely be there for yourself!)

I’m sort of “over” Minecraft for the moment. I still hurt. Pain is distracting me and preventing me from becoming sleepy, which definitely sucks. I feel a yawn come over me… can I sleep? Will I at least rest?

Fuck pain. I mean… just… yeah. I’m not enjoying this experience of today, though I really wanted to. I’ll just have to begin again. Maybe less pain tomorrow?

Queue “Love Rollercoaster“… or…maybe “Love Rollercoaster“? Love has its ups and downs, not unlike a rollercoaster; it’s an appropriate metaphor. We deal with our own challenges – and our partners’. I’m confident that my Traveling Partner loves “all of me“. I count on his enduring love, “right down the line“. Maybe ours is an uncommon sort of love story – maybe not. I know this is our love – and it’s where I want to be. Sometimes love is like dancing, and I feel like I’ve “got the right dancing partner”, at long last.

Valentine’s Day? It was lovely. Spent lived, out loud, and wrapped in love. There are other experiences worth having. πŸ™‚

I originally wrote a very different post under this title (on Friday). It was hurt-sounding, and infused with strong emotion, seasoned with pointless frustrated tears, and more than a hint of self-pitying catastrophizing. As the weekend proceeded, quite differently I’m pleased to note, my thinking on the writing (and events) of Friday evening continued to morph, evolve, mature, change, and deepen. I ascribed to the events first greater significance, then less, dwindling in magnitude of catastrophe and emotional pain over happy days spent in my partner’s good company, feeling loved, and loving, and enjoying our precious mortal moments together. At several points, I re-wrote, edited, adjusted, and refined my written thoughts, as my lived thoughts of the moment themselves changed. Mostly, I focused on being a better partner, better friend, and better love, and didn’t put nearly as much into writing about any of those things.

I spent quite a bit of time in a thoughtful place, reading “You Are Here” by ThΓ­ch NhαΊ₯t HαΊ‘nh. You’ll see a lot of his written work linked in my reading list – or on my book shelves. This one was a recent gift to me from my Traveling Partner to ease my sorrow when I learned of ThαΊ§y’s passing. Funny, I was so moved by my partner’s gift that simply receiving it was emotional and memorable; I felt so loved and understood. Diving into the work and actually reading it, this weekend of all weekends, I could see so much of the depth of my partner’s affection; every page seems to speak to our “here”, our “now”, and the very nature of Love itself. It led my thinking onward, gently, over the course of the weekend. Like a map, it helped me “find my way”.

Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, I woke to an entirely different understanding of Friday evening’s moment of hurt and conflict. I found myself looking at it through a very different lens – one of real compassion and empathy, and awareness of what my partner is/may-be going through, himself, and pushing myself out of the hero’s role of the narrative in my head, to view our experience of each other through a more… equitable(?) perspective. We both have PTSD – and for both of us, the majority of that damage comes from intimate partnerships (other than our own, though at this point we’ve done ourselves a fair bit of emotional damage over a decade) or familial relationships. I now find myself painfully aware how often I insist I be nurtured and supported, while also pretty reliably overlooking his triggers, and his need to be emotionally supported, also. I shut him down when I “don’t feel heard”, instead of listening deeply because I care. I could do better. For sure. Like… probably a lot.

The tl;dr on Friday’s misadventure was simple enough; I triggered him (and did not recognize that in the moment), he reacted, and his reaction triggered me. I threw a fucking fit, and behaved incredibly poorly, and had a nasty temper tantrum we both could have done without. I wrecked a lovely romantic moment in the making, and we had a shit time of things that evening. (I feel fortunate that our love endures our individual and mutual bullshit.) We turned things around together over the course of the weekend, each of us “doing the verbs” to live our best versions of ourselves, and to love each other in the most healing way we could. Win and good; we enjoyed a lovely weekend together.

I thought about posting the original writing from Friday’s moment…but reading it, and even reading various edits and footnotes, I just “couldn’t find room for it” in my current thinking – I’ve already adjusted my thinking, and made room in my awareness to be more supportive and directly nurturing of my partner’s needs, and less strictly focused on my own. Self-care is supremely important, and boundary and expectation-setting is a pretty big deal for building lasting love – no argument there – and I’m not saying that it is any part of my plan to undermine those things (I’ve worked too hard “to get here”!). What I am saying is that I’m more aware that I’ve got room to grow and improve on how well I identify my partner’s need for emotional support, and could use some additional work on those skills, too. Love is a verb. Balance is a healthy quality.

…As silly as this is likely to sound, I put a ton of study and practice into self-care, and meeting my own needs, I somehow almost entirely overlooked how best to support a partner and their unique emotional needs in the context of their PTSD. I mean… for fucks’ sake, really?? Omg. Definitely time to begin again!