Archives for posts with tag: Rx pain relief

I’m sipping my coffee, a bit pre-occupied with this headache. It’s not “the usual headache”… new treatment seems to be providing some relief, which is so excessively awesome I hesitate to mention it, since that treatment is primarily to do with physical therapy, fitness, and… decompression. Traction. Newest round of doctors, images, and all that fuss and bother, and it apparently comes down to arthritis. Again. Fucking hell. So… I hurt, because it fucking well does hurt, and it’s going to. Huh. Okay, well, I can get my head around that (lol)… now what?

Verbs. An ever-loving fuck-ton of verbs.

I have to do the work, myself. It’s not actually about pills, or cures, or permanent fixes, at all. Effort. Routine. Practices. Skillful self-care. Observation. Awareness. Hey, wait… this is starting to sound like mindfulness may weigh in at some point… 😉 It’s probably fairly obvious that I can’t just stroll into the local gym and start aggressive strength training… I do, however, have to start somewhere, with something, and I need to persist at it, because it’s those incremental improvements over time that are going to be my best shot at relief. I’m fortunate to be able to “know that” confidently; I’ve been here before, with the osteo-arthritis lower down, in my thoracic spine. Holy hell, though, y’all… having arthritis in my neck?? Fuuuuuck…. The pain, the time taken getting to a diagnosis. The number of doctors puzzled why what looks fairly un-noteworthy in an X-ray could possible cause this much pain…? I sat down with the Physical Therapist and won the PT lottery that morning; she has direct subjective experience with a similar injury and condition, and ticked off the experiences I was having, confirming each are entirely within expectations for this condition. Empirical experience for the win. One more specialist to see, but it’s nice to feel like there is progress.

Steps in a journey; maybe every single appointment, and every doctor, and every image, were all entirely necessary to get to this place?

…About those verbs? Here’s the thing; knowing isn’t enough. If I want to feel better – any better – there’s also some doing to do. Practice isn’t going to make anything “perfect” (that’s just not actually a thing), but a lot of stuff does take practice. Including exercise. Including meditation.

Before I mislead anyone about the efficiency or efficacy of mindfulness for pain management, I’ll just point you in the direction of “the guy who wrote the book” about it, and the book, itself, and a famous place.  There are other great books, and authors, on my reading list.

Mindfulness for pain management isn’t like taking a strong Rx pain reliever. Let’s start there. It’s just different than that. Is it effective? Yes. If you practice effective mindfulness practices, and practice regularly, it does help quite a lot. Don’t attempt to force mindfulness to “be an opiate” – because it isn’t, and that’s not the way it works. Does it make 100% of all pain entirely go away? Nope. (And if you live with chronic pain, and you are honest with yourself, neither do the Rx pain relievers, including opiates.) The effectiveness of mindfulness practices for pain relief, though, actually improves over time, and mindfulness doesn’t make trade-offs with my health in other ways. Have I ever give up all other pain relief medication in favor of mindfulness? I sure have, for various periods of time, occasionally still returning to needing additional pain relief – because sometimes life fucking just hurts that god damned much. That’s just real.

…Mindfulness remains in my pain relief arsenal for all the same reasons I keep it handy for fighting my personal demons, or for maintaining great emotional resilience, or for managing my anxiety… it works, and doesn’t wreck my health in other ways getting that job done – and all I have to do is practice! 🙂 Are you good at something? Don’t you practice it? Martial arts? Hiking? Ice skating? Mountain climbing? Racing cars? Building models? Practice gets us to places we would never reach on aptitude alone, does it not? 😀

I sip my coffee chuckling a bit. I’ve gone on and on about using mindfulness for pain relief because this headache this morning is fairly horrible, and largely to due with the changes in physical therapy practices I’m now using; muscle pain, rather annoyingly at the base of my skull, and in my neck, and shoulders. Ouch. Meditation for the win, this morning. Maybe that won’t always be enough to manage every headache, every morning – but it’s a great start on any headache, any day. 🙂

…If it doesn’t work? I can always begin again. 🙂

Well shit. I begin the day with fairly grand plans for the weekend, excited about it, too. Ready for it. Yearning for it. Eager to be done with a difficult work week and eager to dive into anything at all that isn’t work. Hell, even the challenge of making a definite departure at a specific time went quite smoothly, in spite of the follow-up call I took on the drive; works questions that were somehow still not resolved… in spite of a definite sense that the issues were satisfactorily settled all around. lol Done. I am done with the work week. So done. It’ll be there for me Monday. lol

The sky seemed a homogeneous nondescript neutral gray. Not quite raining, obviously had at some point… or… maybe? Surfaces appear wet or at least somewhat damp and wet looking. Unappealing weather, not bad, not good – not inspiring. I was feeling very much that I wanted part of my weekend experience to be one of inspiration. Not feeling it. Adventure! Not feeling that either. Stillness? Contentment? Mild amusement? C’mon… what the hell, all that build up toward a great weekend and…

…I have this headache, just on the left side of my head, where something or other has been troubling me for nearly two years now, still don’t know with any certainty quite what. My acid reflux has acted up, quite probably due to unavoidable, and wholly pointless, work stress. My arthritis has flared up as temperatures drop, and I am spending my days right at the edge of what is endurable without strong Rx pain relief day-to-day. It’s hard. I do want to “just have some fun”… but…

My body seems to “get it” before my consciousness really does; I need to get some rest, take some ease, just relax. Get some real sleep. Recover a bit. Recharge – legitimately rebuild lost reserves. Not really “a party opportunity”. I adjust my thinking as the miles slip past. I review a mental to do list – what gets done, what gets postponed – what matters most? It’s not just about this moment right here, now, in spite of it also always being about this moment, right here, now, in some slightly other way – like it or not, it is also important to consider what meets my longer term needs over time. I overlook that detail, if I do, to my future detriment. I stop arguing with myself about it.

I drive, I think, I yearn for… something.

Tomorrow I begin again.

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.

Well, it’s not yet “officially” winter, but it is clear that my arthritis finds it season enough to deliver the full measure of winter-level arthritis pain. I woke with it during the night, 3 or 4 times, only to return to a restless sleep after discontentedly struggling with pain for some little while. My quality of restful sleep was… meh. I don’t know. Not enough. Fuck pain. I want to “lol” about it and move on from the moment, but it’s got me feeling angry with the world and just generally fairly aggravated just now. It’ll pass. I remind myself, again and again, it will pass.

A quiet evening in late autumn, spent quietly.

Last night I relaxed quietly after work, just sitting, enjoying the fireplace. I left the Giftmas tree dark, and without the merry colored lights it seemed a more somber, still, and serene moment of calm contentment, aside from the pain I’d spent the day in, and which lingered through the night. I took medication for that, even took an Rx pain reliever. It helped some.

I sit here staring at my monitor, still feeling sort of put out and aggravated by being in pain. Shitty start to the day…

…I can’t help notice that I’m not improving things by focusing on the pain, itself, and letting it lead the morning. I had unrolled my yoga mat and taken advantage of a few reliable postures to ease stiff joints before my shower, and I left my mat out because yoga actually helps, and maybe I would want to do more of that healthy stuff to cope with my pain…? Maybe…? I chuckle quietly to myself, aware of all the many verbs, and how much effort life requires to live it skillfully…

I head for my yoga mat, to begin the day again. 🙂

Most mornings proceed pretty gently for me these days, and even on the worst of them I get by pretty well, and treat myself decently, and with considerable compassion. This morning was less than usually gentle, and although I’ve done what I can, I am less than ideally kind to myself – I am frustrated by my limitations and feeling irked. It’s not the best addition to my morning coffee, which somehow tastes bitter in spite of using the same coffee I find so richly satisfying most other mornings – and in spite of my general lack of ability to detect bitter flavors in the first place. It is one more defining detail of the start of my day.

I woke from a sound sleep, head as stuffy as the room also felt, throat dry, head pounding, and the clock factually admonishing me that it was already 5:30 am, well into the ‘I may as well get up’ time of morning [for me]. I definitely did not want to get up, and I felt groggy and out of sorts. I got up to pee, and opened the patio door to the morning breeze, hoping to cool the apartment down without fully waking up, and noticing my pain well beyond the usual as I did so. (That makes it sound far more efficient than my hapless dizzy clumsy careening around the room actually was.) I took my morning medication, drank a glass of water, and returned to bed, hoping to sleep in spite of the pain. That doesn’t always work out for me, particularly after sunrise, but on this gray overcast moody looking morning, and after considerable tossing and turning trying to find some combination of pillows and posture that would allow it, I slept.

I woke later to a cool room filled with fresh morning air, headache gone, and easily able to breathe. I feel rested. I still hurt. I am in more pain than usual, possibly just the ordinary change in my arthritis pain that comes with a change in the weather. Yesterday, sunny, warm, and clear… today, gray, overcast, cool, and threatening rain – it’s very much the sort of change that comes with more than usual pain, and I feel less cross with myself recognizing that. (At 5:30 am it was less obvious that it would be a cloudy day.) My coffee is still pretty dreadful… and I give some moments of thought to whether it makes more sense to pour it out and make another cup, or just drink it and have a better second cup later? I get up to go pour it out and start over… then remember I am currently getting by on limited income. Shit. I sit down, taking a more practical, frugal approach, and sip my coffee as it is… glaring down into the dark brew now and then, wondering what the hell went wrong with my process this morning to get this result?

Still… pain and a bad cup of coffee isn’t the whole of my day, or of my experience – it’s not even the whole of my morning. I’m barely awake yet, and the day stretches ahead well beyond my ‘now’, unformed, unlived, and largely unimagined. There will be verbs involved, and choices. 🙂 I sip my coffee and wonder whether or not ‘taking care of me’ today is more about yielding to the pain I am in and compromising my loose plans for greater comfort… or refusing to let my pain call the shots, and undertaking the things I am inclined to do, more slowly perhaps and less comfortably, and just understand that the pain is what it is, and it’s part of my experience more often than I’d like… It’s a hard call this morning. If it actually hurt less to just go back to bed and stay there… I probably would. It doesn’t, so that’s not even an option. lol

That’s a funny thing about the vast menu of choices life presents me with, that I don’t consider as frankly as I might, as often as would be helpful… there are some things I want very much to be choices of mine, that are not in fact on my own actual [still vast] menu of choices to consider – when I am honest with myself. I can’t really choose not to be in pain with my arthritis in any realistic way. I can’t choose to be younger. I can’t choose to change the past. I can’t choose to begin somewhere over there, when I am standing right here. I can’t choose for any of the many details of reality to be other than they are – although I can choose to ignore them, or pretend them differently, the consequences of my actions remain tied to the real reality, and the true truth. Reality does not care what lies we tell ourselves. Our truths have very little to do with what we say in words.

So… this morning… pain. I still want to go to the farmers’ market this morning. When I go, some later, I will still have to be mindful that my resources have changed a lot, and being frugal has value – this is a poor time to be careless or wasteful with resources. I will need to slow down a bit, and manage my pain – or my pain will take the driver’s seat and manage my mood. Choices. Always choices. It’s worthwhile to take a few minutes over my coffee to consider what my choices really are – and where they lead me.

I decide on a hearty breakfast at home, accepting as a given that shopping when I am hungry may drive unintended spending. Before breakfast, a walk and yoga. A second cup of coffee. A hot shower. I notice in this one moment, right here, now, I am not actually in pain… I don’t question that, and I do pause everything else (writing, coffee, gazing at the bird feeder beyond the window…) and take some time to be aware that I am not hurting, to savor it, to linger over the sensations of feeling good; doing so is a practice that shifts my implicit memory away from ‘being in pain all the time’ to being aware that I am not always in pain, and improving my day-to-day perspective and sense of my experience. Moment by moment I build my day… the difficult start? Just one moment of many to come, and I let it go. 🙂

Neither a single ocean wave nor one small bird defines a day at the beach.

Neither a single ocean wave nor one small bird defines a day at the beach.