I’d forgotten how exhausting pain is. Perhaps I never really knew. This experience is giving me a whole new perspective on compassion and empathy.
Remember how you are supposed to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to understand them? What if it hurts too much to even bend over to put on those shoes? That too is a teacher. That too is a way in.
I’ve decided to bring back the term “lumbago”. I love it. It is so poetic. It is an old fashioned way of talking about lower back pain. Not many people use this term any more. I envision some old guy in a plaid shirt and brown pants hitched up a little too high. He’s got both arms held akimbo, hands a little further back, palms flat over his kidney area. He’s leaning back a little. “Ooh, my lumbago!” he moans to anyone who will listen.
“Lumbago” sounds so much better. The pain is still the same, but the word is better. Lumbago kind of sounds like a dance, but dancing is the last thing you want to do.
So. My lumbago. I don’t want to identify with it, but I do want to learn from it. I don’t want it to limit me, but I still want to be mindful.
I’d written a lot last night while sitting at my computer. It turns out this wasn’t the smartest move. I’d not made time to write enough yesterday and I’ve learned that writing helps my head quite a bit. It is creative and cleansing at the same time. So I needed to write, but sitting there for over an hour wasn’t the best idea. I’ve been doing a lot better, but it still has only been a week since I slipped a disc. I hurt quite a bit, and it took a long time to relax enough to go to bed.
This is a whole new experience for me. I’m not sure how to navigate this new territory. I’ve entered into this country without a phrase book or a pocket guide. So I forget every now and then that things are different, and I need to act differently.
Some things I’ve learned from my chiropractor. I’m heartened by how many people I know who go to him and trust him. I’ve heard such disparaging things about chiropractors all my life that I didn’t want to go last week, but now I knew I made the right choice. He is also a certified nutritionist, so I’m learning all sorts of useful tips in addition to getting my back adjusted.
I’ve learned from him that if you want to lessen inflammation, eat a vegetarian diet. I’ve learned that omega 6 increases inflammation, while omega 3 is healing. I’ve learned that a homeopathic muscle relaxer is more useful than a prescription one because it doesn’t make me have brain fog. It is also used for anxiety.
I’m meditating on that – do we tense up because we are anxious, or are we anxious because our muscles are tense? I’ve already written on this a little, and I think it is a key point.
I’ve learned things on my own as well. Pain shows up in ways other than pain. Sometimes the body tries to shield us from pain and so we don’t know we are hurting. The adrenal system is a great thing up to a point, but it can handle only so much. I’m learning it is important to recognize the signs of the adrenal system trying to take over and masking the pain before things get out of hand.
Pain makes me hungry. I crave salty snacks a lot right now. I’m hungry when I shouldn’t be hungry. I suspect this is a lot like when I realized the connection between PMS and cramps many years ago. Yield to the cravings and have terrible cramps. Notice them, but don’t succumb, and have a pain free time. I’m trying to do this now but the pain induced craving is really sneaky.
Funny how my body is trying to get me to eat the very things that will actually make things worse. Salt causes inflammation. Inflammation causes pain.
Our bodies don’t always know what is best for us, so it is up to us to use our minds. The bad part is that we don’t always know we are being misled. We think we are legitimately craving something we need, and we don’t. Our minds have to be the drivers, but sometimes our bodies carjack us.
Pain makes me tired. I never knew how exhausting pain is. I was absolutely wiped out last Tuesday. I was really bored being at home by myself. I’d been home from work for five days and I hadn’t been alone all of that, but enough that it was getting old. I went to eat at a buffet and it was very hard. It was hard to get there. It hurt to sit. I’m starting to think the Roman idea of reclining to eat has a lot of merit. When I was done I went to my car and just drove home. I’d had other small errands to do but I didn’t have the energy to do them.
This morning I was trying to write while sitting at the computer and I had the same problem I had last night. My lumbago was getting worse, and the pain was spreading to my side. I got up to lay down in the living room and nearly blacked out.
I’ve recently learned that too is part of the adrenal system. When I was at the chiropractor’s, the assistant took my blood pressure while I was sitting, and again while I was standing. The first number should be 10 points higher when standing. It was just 2.
I took a “body scan” of myself at that time and analyzed how I felt. Anxious. Unsettled. Nervous. A little dizzy and spacey in my head. Turns out that is the adrenal system covering pain. I felt pain and didn’t even realize how bad it was because my body was covering up for it.
Meanwhile the pain kept going on and I kept not getting relief for it. I didn’t know I needed relief. I didn’t know I was in pain.
How many people do we encounter who are in pain and they don’t even know it? They are irritable and difficult to deal with and they don’t even realize why? Whether the pain is physical or emotional makes no difference. Pain is pain, whatever the source. I’m of the opinion that the line between mental and physical is blurry at best.
I think I’ve found the tip of the iceberg. I think I’ve found a piece of the puzzle. I think I’ve found part of my calling, part of what I was created for.
I’m grateful for this pain, this experience, this lumbago. I’m grateful for the lesson this pain is teaching me. It took laying on my back to see things in a whole new way.