Monthly Archives: January 2017

Pain Management

I’ve been working on a project to do with pain management and mindfulness. It’s an arts & crafts sort of thing and it was presented as the final exercise in my pain management programme.

The pain management programme was a mindfulness, an awareness-based system of guided meditations and tools for self-examination. The idea was to look at your relationship with your pain and fine-tune the push-and-pull elements. What the ? That means that you look at a variety of places in our lives where pain, when you have chronic pain, comes to reside and get triggered. I should have just said this but I’m going to leave this as is to show you that it’s difficult to name stuff honestly, For example, eating; one week we had the exercise to eat consciously once and come back to class to share notes. It’s not compare notes, it’s to share notes. The class specifically requested we not “advise” each other but, rather, simply share our experiences.

That’s difficult to do, as well. Honesty is difficult for most of us. We’re not a particularly self-interrogatory species. We have gradually built up the ability to look at our own experiences without condemnation or other judgements. We have pictures in our heads, started before we had language, that describe our perceptions of the world and our place in it.

The project I’m working on is a maze. It came to me in the last days before the end of the course. I’d already dug out an old poem that echoed my relationship with my pain but this came to me with a doodle and an ‘x’. I turned it into a maze and now I’m turning the maze into a game. The pain maze has life hurdles in the dead ends; the game will have more decision points and I wish there was a way to make the board game such that you couldn’t tell you are heading for a dead-end. How many people play board games these days and how many of them would like one about making your way through life’s little dramas.

That’s what chronic pain can feel like: a drama that just keeps going without resolution or end. There are days I simply want it to stop, even if it means death; it’s exhausting. There are days I’m so frustrated that I can’t manage more than 4 hours of half-assed thinking and doing. The half-assed thinking is clearing up as my drug regimen becomes more tailored to my chemical soup factory (AKA my body). So, that straightens that out, clearly my body affects my mind and I might not be crazy to think that my mind is inside my body (but I still don’t believe that is 100% true).

Chronic pain keeps me in my body to a degree I’ve never experienced before. An unpleasant degree, as it would happen. I think ecstasy would become painful if maintained full on at all times. Our bodies are not built for ‘all out’ all the time. We’re over-burdened with fast, constant stressors, we city-dwelling, global-villager people. Becoming broken has given me an opportunity to step out of the rip tide and back onto the beach. Striving is becoming a thing of my past.

That puts me at odds with the dominate society where I live, but I’m happy in my eddy and growing more confident day by day.

It’s that time

I’ve avoided New Year’s resolutions. I know that 2017 has some very particular challenges for me. It might make some sense to make resolutions, but I’d rather make plans. Resolutions tend to be pie-in-the-sky whereas I prefer concrete action plans. Here’s my goal, here’s what’s needed to get there, here’s how I can handle those needs, and what are my contingencies, drop-dead points, and, finally, at what point do I shrug and say “ain’t happening.”

I don’t know how you approach life. With PTSD, depression, chronic pain, and more I tend to be more cautious now. A good plan makes me feel as though I have both a belt and suspenders on. (I used to wear a belt and suspenders, I have photographic evidence.)

Unfortunately, the same caution that makes a plan pretty much mandatory also means I’ve become risk adverse. I was always risk adverse in particular areas of life, but since becoming disabled, I find that I can barely even spell risky behaviours out.

While the rest of the world was watching horrified, I was peeking and sneaking away from the big events of 2016. I spent more time adjusting to being more in the world than I have been since 2011. New medications made my mentation clearer. My anxiety level, though smeared across a larger landscape, was thinner, lower, less of a hinderance. Having an anxiety issue gave me some space, oddly enough, to just freak out when it was appropriate. Dig in, shit your pants, get cleaned up, and carry on. My new process.

People died in 2016. Some were important in their fields, some were famous, some were infamous, and too many were unarmed civilians in too many wars. We could almost say that Aleppo might as well have died. Some say America is on its deathbed now.

I don’t understand why people have been tearing their hair out about all the deaths. Maybe that is why Carrie Fisher’s death struck me so deeply, in comparison to others that should have affected me even more deeply. It was a transference of confusion.

Death doesn’t confuse me. I know it’s here, amongst us, yet we like it to knock softly before entering. We like someone to come along and tell us the cat is on the roof, just as a lead-up to eventually telling us the cat is dead. When my father, nephew, and mother died each death was unexpected. My father and nephew died together in an accident. My mother died of a heart attack one night, nobody is sure which night since she was found only when she’d been dead at least two weeks. It was creepy listening to my voice messages on her phone while clearing out her apartment.

I have two important threads in this years: location and vocation. I don’t think I have much longer on this planet, at least I hope I don’t, so I want to let go of some life-long fears and do what I want to do instead of what I think others will approve.