I woke up with the number 8 screaming through my body. Oh man, I thought I’m not going to make it to yoga. Not when I’m an eight. So, I told myself don’t go—stay in bed and ease into the day another way.
Buddy was up though and anxiously pawing at me. Let’s get the party started he insisted. Knowing he’d eventually wear me down I gingerly made my way to the kitchen. On the counter were the three pennies I’d found the day before.
Three I thought—let’s make that the new number for today. Three is do-able Kären. Coffee and Motrin can probably get you to a six and food might get you to a five. Feed the dog, make your latte and just keep going from there. You’ve done this before you can do it again.
My rough start was further confirmation the experimental procedure I’ve agreed to next week is worth the risk. After 12 years of chronic pain one might wonder what would keep me from giving it a try but trust me, gambling with hope is tricky business.
My Dad was brave enough to bring the subject up with me the day before.
“What are you hoping the outcome of your procedure will be?” he asked.
“As silly as it sounds what I’d like most is to be able to wear a pair of underwear.”
He winced at this revelation which fell in the category of things people don’t talk about.
“Underwear? You mean you can’t wear it now.”
“Nope. I’m commando all the time.”
Ever the gentleman I could sense he was trying to recover. “You know that’s something I’ve never understood. I hear about it but I don’t get it. I just can’t imagine going without.”
“You would if you had too.”
“God forbid I ever have too!”
“Yes, God forbid.”
He knew I was serious. I wouldn’t wish the pelvic neuralgia I’ve suffered from on anyone. I know as far as chronic pain goes there’s worse but day-to-day that perspective is often lost. Pain by its very nature makes it hard to keep your head on straight.
This has been the greatest challenge in my twelve year journey. When I was first diagnosed the best I could be offered was medication that proved too dangerous for me to take. Alternative treatments, and I’ve tried them all, turned the volume down but from what I could only call the placebo effect.
Out of options the only advice I got that helped was to begin to look at what makes pain worse rather than better. What are pain’s intensifiers? At the time this seemed like a radical idea but on a day when you wake up feeling like an eight—not so much.
Dog fed and coffee in hand I worked through my mental list—fear, anger, shame, and isolation—four piles of yarn I’ve learned to unravel on my hardest days.
What was I afraid of on my eight of a day? That I was going backwards instead of forward. I’d had so many good days recently—under five kinda days—that an eight freaked me out. Would I even be able to tolerate the travel to get to my doctor next week?
Why was I angry—because lots of people like my sweetie and son were able to get right out of bed and go workout without any thought they couldn’t. They also wouldn’t be standing in their closet afterwards thinking what can I wear today that won’t aggravate my condition. In fact, they’d just slip a pair of briefs on tuck all their bits in and go. Maddening!
Why did I feel ashamed? Well for one thing you’re not allowed to talk about stuff like this and when you do quite often you get accusing looks. Surely you’ve done something to bring this on?
Why did I feel alone? Because pain belongs uniquely to the individual and it can’t be shared. Nobody but you wakes up in your body. People empathize but when it comes to your physical pain nobody can actually sympathize.
When they say confession is good for the soul I liken it to tipping the scales. The weight of your burden isn’t removed but it’s lifted and this is what my list does.
On any given day my answers can differ but the real answers are the same. My challenge then is to rehearse those truths not the lies my pain wants me to believe. Those faith statements are that:
- I will not always have this pain. On this side of eternity I may but on the other side I won’t. One day it will be transcended. If a remedy comes before that praise God—if not praise God.
- It’s okay to be angry but I have to remember its expensive fuel my body can’t afford.
- As for shame there’s no place for it. Things happen, some of them good, some of them bad, many of them beyond our control. The God I love and know personally is not trying to punish me.
- Feeling alone? There is only one remedy. Get moving. Go to yoga. Call a friend or better yet serve a friend.
Next week I might wake up with less pain in my body and who knows maybe panty-lines are in my future. However that doesn’t mean I’ll be spared from future aches and pains. Life in an imperfect world guarantees that. But I can say with great certainty I’m better prepared for whatever may come. The gift pain has given me is not understanding how to get rid of it, but how to survive and even thrive with it.
I made it to yoga after all and when the day ended I wasn’t a three like I’d hoped but in my heart, which is what matters most, I was a one. Not perfect but close enough to count.
As an aside for the ladies….my friend Jo made this product. https://www.gocommandos.com/