Archives for posts with tag: pain management

The rain comes down. It’s been raining now for a couple days, with the one lovely break on Sunday, suitable for a long walk on a trail I’d not previously explored.

The view from the house was pretty nice, too. 🙂

I walked the muddy trails filled with delight. No particular reason. I like walking forest trails. 🙂

There’s something about walking a new path…

I breathed the forest air. Listened to the birdsong and breezes… and the aircraft. These trails skirt the runway of a local municipal airport. lol

It’s a big sky. There’s plenty of room for an airplane or two. 😉

Today isn’t that day. It’s this one. It’s not bad… but it’s no walk in the forest. lol The rain continues to fall. The twilight of a winter afternoon begins to descend, already. I don’t mind either of those things. I smile, recalling the gentle delight of taking a break with my Traveling Partner (who considerately asked me to join him, noticing I’d not taken a break in a long while). An unexpected, warmed up, slice of leftover pizza was a good lunch bite, as I headed back to work.

Now it’s me, this spreadsheet, this rain-spattered window onto a tiny slice of the world outside, and some time. One more meeting.

I feel the tension of a busy workday beginning to twist my neck and shoulder into knots. My back has begun to ache. I stand, stretch, and resume working only after I feel things “really start to relax”. Self-care is so… continuous. I slept poorly last night, but have been sleeping well generally, of late, so I’m not much feeling the fatigue yet. It’s a trap; I may feel it later, when I’ve forgotten my short-night. I make a mental note to be patient with myself, and mindful of my long day, and to be honest and self-aware about my fatigue when it begins to build.

I sigh out loud. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Begin again. 🙂

Stay on the path, yes, and also remember to take breaks! 🙂

Shouldn’t “embracing change” be easier than this? Is “easy” not actually “a thing”? Questions over coffee, on an overcast summer morning. My mind wanders unproductively between sips. The coffee is good, and that’s enough for this moment, right here.

I was sitting barefooted, cross-legged, in a favorite chair (the only comfortable chair in the new living room, presently… more room in the new house, same amount of furniture), on a morning so quiet I imagined I heard my Traveling Partner sigh as he woke, in another room. It’s a quiet house (so quiet!), and it seems unlikely that I actually heard the soft sound of his sigh, over my aquarium and my tinnitus. He approached a moment later, wearing his “just woke up” face. I offer to make coffee, and we share that. It is, generally speaking, a pleasant moment on a summer morning. I pretend, for the purposes of joy and love, that I’m not in the pain I’m in. I make room to be kind, and to listen, and to offer whatever support I can; he’s in pain, too. It’s been 10 days of fairly intense labor, getting moved out of the rented duplex, and into our home. For reasons of pandemic, and limiting exposure, we handled almost all of every bit of it ourselves, instead of hiring movers. I’m not sure I still think that was a great idea. lol

It was 10 days trying to get the internet set up. I wrote in the mornings, anyway. 🙂

“Home”. Damn, that sounds nice. I let the sound of it roll around in my thoughts contentedly for some moments. I find it so important to savor the successes – small, large, and in between. What I am suggesting is really taking time with those successes, enjoy and appreciate them, linger over their memory, and invest more of my cognitive and emotional bandwidth in that enjoyment and awareness, than I do in fussing over what didn’t work, or worked out uncomfortably or with problematic other outcomes. That “negativity bias” can really become an emotional wound, over time, swallowing up all the joy, and all the fun. Having a home of our own is a major milestone in our life together, and for me, in my own life as an individual human being. Huge win. Definitely needful to celebrate that. 🙂

I sip my coffee and look out the window of my new studio/office space here. I see the neighbor’s new fence, two pear trees, branches laden with young fruit hanging over the fence, and the cream-colored wall of their house just beyond. I see a sliver of gray sky. The neighbors – and neighborhood – are very pleasant, and very welcoming. Every new conversation begins in a similar way, with an apologetically, charmingly awkward excuse for not shaking hands or offering a hug; the pandemic is still a thing (very much so) in America.

…I hear my Traveling Partner call to me. As he wakes, his pain is more well-managed (mine, too, it seems very human). I want to hang out… I want to write. It’s been a while. There’s much to say, much to share. I think. Maybe. I mean… you’re here, reading, I should make that worth your while, yes? 😉 Perhaps, for now, this is enough?

Perspective, or view? What matters most? What is “enough”? Where does joy come from?

I sip my coffee. Finish my writing. I begin again.

 

This morning is hard. I woke up in pain. It’s a rainy morning; I felt it coming, yesterday. My head aches. I am “not fit for human company” right now. Fuck you, COVID-19 – today would be a perfect day to get out of the house and just wander around aimlessly. lol Or… not.

Fuck, I hurt.

I queue up some videos about fish-keeping. I watch the fish. I drink my coffee. I wait to get over my bullshit.

…I’ll definitely have to begin again. lol

I’m okay, though, for most values of okay. It’s just physical pain, and while it does affect my mood, and tends to “shrink my world”, it’s only this thing that it is – if I allow myself to remain aware of all the rest of the good things life offers, it doesn’t take over, it just exists as part of the experience. Unpleasant, but limited.

I hear my Traveling Partner wake up and start his day. I sigh and put on my best patient and considerate manners, and we interact briefly, greet each other, and I retreat to my studio. No harm done. No conflict. No stress. Nice. That’s a win, right there. I’m positively filled with snarls this morning.

I sip my coffee. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Watch fish-keeping videos filled with conflicting advice based on fairly commonplace observations. lol I feel fortunate to be willing to learn, without making firm assumptions about who is right or wrong; they try things, I try things. They each have their way, learned over time. I find mine; I’ve got time to learn. Tons of new beginnings. So many opportunities to begin again. My results vary. Even keeping my aquariums becomes a living metaphor for this complicated human journey that is the life I live. I’m okay with that.

Here it is the weekend. Tomorrow, the external canister filter I’d ordered for the shrimp tank should arrive. “2-day shipping” from FedEx has taken more than a week. Frustrating, but real. Life is not about ideal circumstances and experiences. It may be about how well we enjoy, learn from, and make use of circumstances and experiences that are not at all ideal. 🙂 I keep practicing.

Coffee almost gone… soon it will be time to get a grip on my best manners, and fight through this pain to enjoy the day with my partner. It’s the weekend, and it’s already 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 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. 🙂