Archives for posts with tag: Rx pain relief

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. 🙂

I noticed the peculiar balmy quality to the air this morning, on the way to work. It persisted through the day. Warmer weather than is typical for January. The air is soft and very still, and the scent of it hints at summer storms. Decidedly peculiar weather.

I enjoyed the commute home more than I generally do. It felt easy. Effortless. Unfettered. The sky looked stormy, without looking anything like winter, somehow. The temperature remained quite mild, even into the evening. I went for take-out, for dinner. I went to the store a bit later. I had the energy to do this-n-that – maybe borrowed from the stormy sky. Still no rain falling, just the scent of the hint of a promise of rain… later. I smiled as I drove home. I smiled as I drove through town, first on one errand, then on the next. I pulled into the driveway smiling.

The weekend is here. I’m still smiling.

The amount of pain I am in is every bit as uncomfortable as the worst winter I’ve ever had with my arthritis. Something like 30 years of pain-filled winters; every winter feels like the worst one, ever. I wonder for a moment if, in fact, they’re all quite similar, and I simply lack the capacity to recall it with clarity. Sitting here in pain tonight, I kind of appreciate that possibility. It is what it is, though, and bitching about it as endlessly as I experience it doesn’t help with the pain, and doesn’t improve the experience, so… I let it go. Over and over again, I notice the pain, with a breath, with a movement, with the completion of one task or another, or just a change of position. I notice it. I let it go. When it is too much to bear, at all, I fall back on a pain reliever. I try to get by without them. I don’t find them something worth counting on. I’m frustrated with the song and dance involved with every refill, every new doctor, every change of health coverage; most of the time, I’d rather be in pain that deal with any of that. Sometimes, it’s too much to argue with, and I reach for relief.

Here’s the thing, though; I’m enjoying my life, generally, in spite of the pain. That seems an important detail. I hold on to that for a few moments. I make the effort to focus on that, more than the pain.

My sleep has gone to crap, again. No idea why. I remind myself it’s a thing I’m aware I deal with, and have since… yeah, I don’t have a memory of a time in my life without sleep disturbances of one sort or another. I shrug without thinking, and feel the pain in my spine flare up, in this new place I don’t remember hurting before quite recently. Annoying. I take a deep breath and coax my shoulders into relaxing once more. Tonight? Yep. I took a pain reliever. Are you kidding me? Pain sucks, and also, I’d like to hurt at least enough less to sleep a few hours, if not deeply, at least straight through without waking. Goals. lol

All of this is so… human.

I listen to the last of the rush hour traffic whooshing by, on the street. I think about the trail I plan to walk, tomorrow, and wonder which turns to take, and where I’ll turn around and head back for home. There’s a longer loop trail near by, and extension of another familiar walk. Maybe I’ll take that walk, and push past my recent distance, for a grander goal? I feel twinges of pain mocking my intentions…

I shrug all that off, quite deliberately, and imaging an obscene gesture at my unseen enemy. “You don’t tell me!” I think… I’ll just begin again. 😉

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.