An old picture from November 2010
An old picture from November 2010

I have been writing.  Lots of crappy, more than the usual self indulgent missives.  Complaints of pain and great bouquets of self pity.  You get the picture.


Today, I woke up to great gratitude, however, and wondered if I had something else, better, wiser to say about this latest incursion into this wilderness of pain.


And I feel wildly, deliciously self indulgent.  Enough so that I can imagine it useful to more than my very singular self.

Pain.  And gratitude.

I am in a lot of pain.  All the time.  Sciatica.  Nerve hell.

It tires me terribly and I crawl into bed as soon as Julia goes upstairs for her nightly ritual.  Once I asked her to come kiss me when she was finished and to put out her own light, I could not make it to her room.

But sleep comes easily right now.  The doc gave me a magic pill to deaden my nerves.  I am assuming that it does its job because I am sleeping though the night, the first time in years, and not waking to pain.  The price of this sound, dream filled repose does not appear to be the groggy hangover of sleep aides and I have convinced myself that I begin each day with a slightly less enflamed nerve.

It, this uninterrupted sleep, was the first recognized gift of pain.

To be clear.  Those first delicious moments of waking to what is a painless body is pretty glorious although with the short walk to the bathroom those blissful moments disappear.  The no-pain time was driven home in the middle of last night when I awoke, wandered to the bathroom and then down to the kitchen to get some water.  I was a 1/2 on the pain scale (1-10) and that half may have just been the anticipation what pain to come, not pain itself.  I was tired and knew I could fall right back to sleep but I wondered for a moment if I should get up to do some chore that I’ve been neglecting because of how well I felt.  Anthropomorphizing the vacuum, it misses me terribly.  As does the dining room floor.

But I went back to bed and sleep.

So, yes, uninterrupted sleep and then great, jumbled dreams are a gift.  And with a few days of vivid dreaming beneath my belt all I can think of doing is writing fiction.  I did not know how connected those two were.  Perhaps they are.


Yesterday, after a meeting with church friends and the offer of more than my usual help with Julia and life, I clicked from a passive to active role in coping with pain.  I saw the doc last week, after waiting for 4 or 5 weeks to get in, made the appointment with PT the same day and was scheduled to wait another 4 weeks.  The doc prescribed the night time pill for pain and ibuprofen for daily maintenance.  I am grateful for both but neither address healing or the break through pain that is still there.  I’ve been patient, waiting until PT and healing to begin, feeling overwhelmed after a google search that read I could do more damage doing anything else but wait for PT.  But now, I have heard enough stories of sciatic pain that PT did not remedy and how alternative treatments have been effective for some.  So, nothing crazy drastic but I need to be doing something to help heal, just not waiting.

So, there is lying flat or walking—two of my most pain free “positions.”  No soft couch or comfy chair for me.  Walking in short intervals, after a 45 minute walk kinda’ killed me.  St. John’s Wort oil as a topical pain reliever.  A homeopathic remedy that will do little harm and is effective for some.  Two yoga stretches a few times a day—recommended on some websites but more importantly, feel positive on my body— and some of my regular physical warmups that put no strain on the back at all but do stretch and strengthen my core.

Here is the gift of patience and action.  Hard to articulate.  Both need cultivation and cherishing especially to wash some of the self pity out of my system.

And then there is the realization that this is physical pain and that is all that it is.  My mind, not always in full concentration mode, is nevertheless, can move about my world, to listen, to enjoy, to think beyond what can be bothersome.  I breathe into the pain many times a day and meet it without flinching.  This physical pain, and I am very aware that this is minor pain compared to the pain of many others, does not eat at my soul, does not leave me without a will to action, does not drain my life force.  It is not grieving.  It is only pain that carry little emotional baggage.

This is a very great gift.  One that if not for the last five years I would have never recognized.  Ever.

Time to get up from lying flat on my back.  Exercise a bit.  Rub some St John’s Wort Oil onto my leg.  Put a wash in and take that short walk.  Perhaps have a talk withe the lonely vacuum.

3 thoughts on “pain

  1. Aha! I thought I’d seen that dress in a book somewhere but couldn’t remember where. You are talented at sewing! It looked great. Hope your back continues to improve!

  2. Sending hopes for continued moments of ease. Though I know prescriptions are often irritating, Nick had sciatica and found a way through it through chi gong. Chi-lel chi gong, I believe. I could send a tape…..

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