Posts Tagged ‘Coping with Pain’


I keep looking for the sliver lining in the latest card I’ve been dealt: the happy ending, the Big Lesson. After three weeks, I’m thinking that’s enough time for God to look down and say, “Okay, yeah– so here’s the good part.”

Yesterday, I thought I might be on to it. After two weeks of serious pain and a disasterous round with a phsyical therapist that landed me in bed for two days, I decided to break down and try a dreaded water aerobics class.

I’ve seen the classes back when I used to swim laps. They are, as you might expect, filled with old people, generally out-of-shape, and arthritic or injured. Basically, people just like me.

As I drove to the club, I rallied around the idea of a new experience. Beyond some desperately needed pain relief, I imagined myself making a new friend, a friend that would change my outlook. She’d be old, beaten-down physically, but bright in spririt. She’d be spunky and wise, and I’d go to her house and we’d drink lemon tea in her garden and feed her many cats. I’d help her with grocery shopping and she’d teach me how to make the perfect pie crust. She’d tell me colorful stories of her life and I’d learn from them. I was looking forward to it.

The class was a total bust. It did give me some pain relief, but I was totally annoyed by the old people who only wanted to talk to each other about their trips to Florida. And because they didn’t want to get their hairdos wet, they didn’t move around a lot, which meant I had to navigate between their little cliques to get any aerobic benefits. And I totally felt sorry for myself the whole time. And then I was mad at myself for feeling sorry for myself and thinking ageist thougts instead of bucking up and being brave and kind.

Then I realized, it’s not Lifetime television, it’s just life. No lesson learned, no great epiphany, no kindred spirit in the pool. Just another basic day in the life of a basic person.

I’ve decided instead of looking for a big life-changing event, maybe my silver lining will come to me in tiny scraps and pieces that I’ll have to stitch together myself. Like a pig rooting for truffles, I might have to get down and put my nose in some mud to find them. And I’m feeling pretty piggish and muddy these days, so there’s got to be a truffle around here somewhere.


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The Diagnosis


“Do you think I’ll ever run again?”

“I Hope so.”

Hope is never want you want to hear from a doctor. I want to hear, “Yes, absolutely, of course, you bet.”

Never being much of a glass-half-full kind-of-gal, I take “I hope so” to really mean “No, but I don’t want you to start crying again in my office because I’m barely out of medical school and you’re scaring me with your legal pad of questions.”

Diagnosis: Fibromyalgia. No cure. No specific cause. Some get better, most learn to live with it.

It’s been five months since the pain started. I can no longer blame it on my laptop since it’s now moved beyond my back, neck and shoulders and spread to my hips and legs. I’ve had blood tests; I’ve had an MRI on my brain. So far I am in excellent health except that every day I wake up feeling like a wild animal caged in my own body. In a body that has betrayed me and decided to teach me a lesson about having something to really complain about.

Who knew I’d be 43 and looking back on 42 as cherished days? Days when I didn’t know I would be gripped with horrific pain every day for what looks like, the REST OF MY LIFE. I never thought that “live each day like it’s your last” business would apply to me. I guess no one does. That’s why people whose lives have taken bad turns are always warning the rest of us.

So now I’ve got to pull Lance Armstrong out of my ass and get all full of gratitude and cheesy self-affirmations. I’ve got to not be afraid of searing pain, throbbing headaches. I’ve got to stop crying because apparently it only makes it worse. I’ve got to get excited about going to a therapy pool and doing water aerobics with the elderly because that’s apparently the type of exercise I “should” be doing. I’ve got to consider medication that makes you fat, drowsy, and unable to concentrate. I’ve got to keep saying I’ll get better even though I’m terrified.

I can’t even look at my running shoes without crying. They sit quietly wearing the dried mud of last fall, waiting for action. Apparently it will be a while. At least, the doctor “hopes so.”

I’ve got to find someone who has coped with this, beaten it back. The sad, desperate people who post their horror stories online are not helping. Neither is the woeful Wikipedia. Who writes such medically grim, disorganized crap?

So pardon my self-indulgence and self-pity. I just needed to get this off my chest. I can’t write little stories about the twisted perfection of my small town right now. That was before. How I miss the before.

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