Archives for posts with tag: pain is not a unique experience

I can’t even string together enough swear words to adequately describe the pain I am in this morning. It’s just physical pain. It’s even mostly the “healthy pain” of spending a day working in the garden, stooping, bending, lifting, digging, kneeling, standing, reaching… all good stuff. Fuck I hurt though. That pain on top of my arthritis, on top of my [whatever the fuck is wrong with this bullshit] neck/headache pain – it’s a lot. I’m sipping a very good cup of coffee this morning, working on shrugging off the pain, to get started on the Sunday routine – housekeeping, chores, upkeep. The details of having good quality of life do not take care of themselves. (Note: if you think that the details of having good quality of life “just sort of happen”, then I suggest you look around for that person who is clearly caring for your clueless ass and say “thank you” once in a fucking while, and oh yeah – how about helping out?)

It was a lovely day in the garden, yesterday. There’s more to get done (I didn’t quite finish, even with my Traveling Partner’s help): there are yet a handful of dahlia tubers to plant, some final tidying up of beds (for this go ’round), and tools to put away. I enjoyed the work, and the effort. I am pleased with the results. I focus on those things, and turn my attention away from the pain I am in. That, and good self-care now, are the best I can do. Some yoga and pain management first thing when I woke, and hopefully once this coffee is done, I’ll be in fair shape for the chores ahead.

If you’re reading this as a healthy fit twenty-something, feeling immune to the aches and pains, and possibly just the tiniest bit dismissive or smug about your fitness, I have only this to say; your turn will come. πŸ™‚ I don’t mean in a harsh way, I’m just saying that I understand that you “don’t get it” – we don’t know what we don’t know. I didn’t get it in my twenties, either. I couldn’t. It was outside my ability to truly understand. Enjoy ease and comfort and freedom of movement while they last you, my healthy fit friends of all ages. We’re all at risk of losing that fitness – whether through age or adversity – and once it is gone, it can be damnably difficult to get it back. (I keep working at that. Slow progress is still progress.)

Be kind to people. It’s unlikely that we know what someone else is really going through – even if they do try to tell us. Our own pain is typically the worst pain we know – and if it “isn’t that bad” we may not have a real reference with which to understand what someone else is going through. That’s as true for me as for anyone else. My partner tells me when he is in pain. I tell him. We hear each other. We earnestly seek to support each other with real care and consideration. We still can’t really know the pain the other one is experiencing. How bad is it, really? Well… I suspect it is always 100% “bad enough” that we do well to be kind to each other. I mean… that’s a small thing, isn’t it? So huge for the person we are being kind to, though. Oh, and when we’re in pain? When we’re suffering with it? Still, be kind. Sure, it’s an excuse one can offer for being a jerk to someone to say we are in pain. It’s even pretty real, right? Be kind, anyway. Pain hurts, for sure, and it can be a huge fucking challenge to muster one last shred of resilience to make that effort… but when we treat people poorly because we hurt, that person doesn’t feel our pain – only their own. From being hurt by being treated poorly. By us. Are you seeing how cyclical that can be? I’m just saying… it may be worth the effort all around, for all of us, every day, to be kind.

“I’m just being real.” I’m suggesting be kind instead. (Or, you know, in addition to being “real”… how about that?)

“I’m just giving helpful feedback.” I’m suggesting that if you must, that you do it in a kind way. Legitimately kind. If you can’t? Maybe don’t bother – especially if you weren’t asked for feedback.

“I’ve got my own shit to deal with.” Don’t we all? I’m just suggesting it may be less of a burden if you are also being kind to people you interact with.

“I’m all about ‘tough love’ and I’m only kind to people who deserve it.” It’s possible you’re missing the point of both “tough love” and kindness and I’m not sure what to say about that, at all. “Tough love” is about love. (It’s also about setting reasonable boundaries to avoid letting someone abuse your affection… seems like it would be possible to do so with kindness, too. I don’t know. I’m not walking your mile.)

Kindness may not save the world, but have you seen what the lack of it does to the world? It’s in the news a lot. Hate crimes. Road rage killings. Family violence. Kindness is a lot less news-worthy, generally… but the outcomes are far better.

I feel like I’m on a bit of a rant. πŸ™‚ It’s just the pain I am in coloring my experience. That’s why I’m on about it; I expect to needs these words, myself, as soon as I interact with my partner, neighbors, or the community beyond. This is a blog post I’ll re-read a number of times, today, as pain wears me down and I fight back for one more shred of resolve to get one more task completed. πŸ™‚

Take care of yourself today. Take care of those dear to you. Be kind. We all need more kindness, day-to-day. If we’re not willing to provide it, how will those around us understand to proceed, themselves? “Please be kind to me, I’m having a tough time today” are not easy words to say… maybe we would do well to practice, that, too? Anyway… practices need fewer words, and more practicing, and here it is, already time to begin again. πŸ˜‰

Raindrops on a rose bud.

I’ve got this headache plaguing my every minute again, today. It sucks. It’s a small irritant in a generally good experience, though, and things could be far worse. Weirdly, “things seem strange” – the ratio and size of this window looks somehow wrong. The font seems small compared to my expectations. I check that I’m wearing the right glasses. I find myself clenching my jaw, and make a point to breathe and relax my face. Where is this stress and feeling of aggravation and enduring frustration coming from? I feel a bit… generally peeved. Did I miss the mark on my morning coffee…? No, I definitely had two cups.

I increase the magnification on this window, and let that go. I take an OTC pain reliever for the headache, and let that go, too. I breathe, exhale, relax – and take a minute to savor the excitement of the upcoming job change. There’s a moment of satisfaction in each piece of paperwork in that process that is completed. I give myself a moment to feel the sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing the tax paperwork for the year, and let go any lingering stress left behind from that process, too. Small details. Life, lived.

…This headache, though…

A couple weeks ago, my lack of enthusiasm for vacuuming found itself notably worsened by the earnest-but-inadequate efforts of the wee cheap plastic upright vacuum I’d purchased back in 2015, when I moved into #27. Tiny apartment – it didn’t need an expensive feature-packed vacuum cleaner, just a vacuum cleaner sufficient to keep up with one women in less than 700 sq feet of space, one third of which wasn’t carpeted. This house is bigger than that, and although only the bedrooms are carpeted, it’s still quite a bit of vacuuming each week keeping up with two busy adults venturing in/out, onto the deck, into the front yard, out into the shop (in the garage)… and, I can’t say I was successfully keeping up, at all. Neither was that vacuum. It did its best, and it got me by for… 6 years. Wow. Not bad. πŸ™‚ Just not enough, anymore. My Traveling Partner and I talked it over and decided a new vacuum cleaner would be the next quality of life improvement, and did some pre-shopping, settled on a make/model, determined the likely date of purchase (if available). That was two weeks ago. This morning, I was up early, and out the door between my first and second coffees, heading up the road to the retailer with the vacuum cleaner we’d selected.

…It rained the entire drive there and back…

This is not an exciting tale of adventure. I bought a vacuum cleaner. Not exciting. It’s a good one, though, and I’m delighted with the results. I mean… the rugs in the living room actually look clean, for the first time in quite a while. Satisfying. I make room to savor even this small emotional victory. (This headache sucks so much, truly, that contemplating a good result with a quality household appliance feels like real greatness. lol)

…I let go of how irked I am with myself that I hurt too much to aggressively persistently vacuum every inch of flooring across every square foot of house; I can only do my best, and still need to care for myself. I definitely do not want to be the sort of human being willing to make myself cry over the vacuuming. I mean… seriously. It matters so much more that I am in pain. I give myself a minute to consider next steps to care for myself well.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and I feel my irritation resurface recalling that I confused “W-4” with “W-2” in conversation with my partner – which, after a tax-paying lifetime as an American adult, one would figure I’d have mastered as just too fucking basic to get wrong. I let it go. Small mistakes are common enough for people. Even the sharpest, wittiest, most educated, most well-spoken, most erudite, most fluent human beings make mistakes when they speak. Wrong words. Mixed metaphors. Poor choice of verbiage. Slips of the tongue. All too human. I happen to be prone to those things as much as anyone… maybe the tiniest bit more because of my TBI. I’m likely far more sensitive to my errors than other people are, and more so in these later years when I am more prepared to be authentically myself, and less likely to rely on a “script” that conforms to social norms and expectations. Still, I find it awkward and embarassing, and I take a moment to wonder what drives that, instead of focusing on the mistakes that are so human, themselves. It’s the expectations, isn’t it? It’s not the mistake that is the “problem”, in this instance – it’s that I have expectations of myself that don’t allow for those mistakes. That seems like a bit of a dick move… I certainly don’t treat other people that way. Another breath. Another moment to relax. I left all that go, too. I can treat myself better. πŸ™‚ Clearly I need practice.

I review my writing for grammatical errors – a particular sort that is specific to my issues, which is to say, messed up suffixes, opposites, and missing words. They’ve gotten to be pretty common, unfortunately, and I wouldn’t bother about it if they weren’t the sort to entirely change the meanings of sentences. I mean, rather a lot, actually. I look over my writing, correct the mistakes I find. Breathe. Exhale. Relax.

…Fuck this headache…

I’m fatigued from fighting my pain, and managing my mood. I feel tears well up over nothing at all – just the frustration of being in pain. Still. Again. (“Other people have it much worse,” I remind myself, “It’s just physical pain. Just the arthritis and the chill and the damp. Let it go.”) Another breathe. Another moment.

…Time to begin again.

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. πŸ™‚ It’s enough.

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. πŸ™‚

Thinking about the future. “Here it comes…“. It is a morning with a theme song. πŸ™‚ 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.Β My calves ache from muscle cramps during the night, a weird new development along life’s journey.Β 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. πŸ™‚