(This is NOT the blog I promised you after losing the rant I wrote on Sunday.....that is yet to come.)
I am sharing a hard won life lesson with y'all today on the off chance that my struggles may be helpful to someone out there. If you are one of the lucky ones who never has a pain or an ache, for heaven's sake, don't waste your time plodding through this....just keep on smoking whatever it is you are smoking and move on to a more exciting blog. However, if you have ever uttered an "ouch" or "oy vey" you might find a nugget of interest here. I am not preaching anything, by the way, nor am I trying to entice you into my cult where magic is a daily ho-hum happening. I offer my experiences with all humility and much gratitude.......it's a kind of take- it- or- leave- it thing. I hope some crumb will resonate for you and make things better.
As most of you know, I recently cancelled my plans to have a bum knee replaced when I realized that my suffering from the knee only accounted for about 30% of my total miseries and it did not seem worthwhile to incur the pain of surgery, recovery and the damned physical therapy to only feel perhaps 30% better.
I definitely feel like I made the right decision for me....(I encourage anyone who is facing replacement of parts to proceed like gangbusters if that surgery will eliminate most of your discomfort or give you mobility you are lacking). The most interesting thing is, that in order to make that decision, I had to face, analyze and get on speaking terms with all of my various aches and pains and was reminded (once more) of a lesson I learned years ago but keep forgetting:
When there is no possibility of immediate relief from a pain the best thing to do is to stop fighting the pain.
Stop resenting, resisting, hating and trying to pull away from the pain or tear it out of yourself. Relax and get neutral. (Easy to say, I know, but it can be done).
Accept the pain.
Take a deep breath. Look inside. Examine it for shape, color, size, texture, general characteristics. Start thinking of the pain as not your enemy but a sort of equal.......you are both stuck in this together. As soon as you do this the pain becomes less intense and/or more manageable, I swear. When you quietly accept the fact that there is no quick fix, you develop an odd respect for the pain and begin to learn to live with it rather than be at war with it. Sounds crazy I know, but it has always worked for me. And it has just worked again.
Now, before you all pelt me with camel dung I must state (I should probably have said this at the beginning),
I am not talking here about Grade #10 or even #8 or #9 pain. This method did not work for me during the week on the ship when I was having the extreme sciatic attack and was incarcerated in my cabin unable to move and with excruciating, ceaseless agony for 7 days 24 hours a day. No amount of accepting made that better or distracted me from its intensity for a moment. I don't think it helped with an abcessed tooth I once had either. But it has helped with a lot of the inbetweens and it is helping me a lot with my knee. For one thing, my unceasing spewing forth of streams of curses and naughty words has fallen to a trickle. I am not nearly as exhausted by the end of the day or even when I get up in the morning. I have stopped obsessing about the damned knee, screaming at every twinge and have actually noticed one or two pleasant things in between groans. All in all, my condition is much improved without having undergone surgery, tenks gott. Of, course, the day may come when I re-evaluate things and find the percentage has shifted, and I may very well reschedule the knee replacement. But, for now I feel I made the right choice and I am content.
So when they find you seated in the lotus position with eyes crossed breathing heavily and they ask what the hell you are doing, just tell them, like Lois said, you are making friends with your pain.
The New Yorker covers: July 7 & 13, 2008
9 hours ago