Thursday, June 02, 2011

Pain -- Nature's Way of Getting You To Perk Up And Pay Attention!

Last blog post back in April, I went on and on about my intermittent, but persistently nagging back pain, and how it improved with the setting of boundaries.  Back then, the level of my discomfort, according to the chart at the left, registered somewhere around a 4 or 5.  By this time two weeks ago, it was up to around 7 or 8, and heading quickly into 9 territory.

Turns out, it wasn't back pain at all.  As I suspected, the cause was internal -- gastritis, which was causing inflammation in, among many other places, the regions of my lower back.  Though I had no diagnostic tests run to take a look, apparently, excess stomach acid was eating through my stomach wall, presumably so it could travel up to my brain and smack me upside the head.  (This is chronic pain's entire purpose for existing, I'm starting to realize.)

My fabulous MD, Dr. Simon, prescribed a pretty little orange pill, and I've felt fine ever since.  But the memory of the pain lingers, and with it, a desire to fix the root of the problem (why so much acid?) and not just handle the symptoms (ouchy stomach).  My father had a habit of constantly cracking his shins on objects around the house -- the coffee table, the hope chest at the foot of his bed, an open drawer at his desk.  I'd hear a "crack", a yelp, and when I'd ask if he was okay... he'd grimace, "Fine, fine... there's something about excruciating pain that lets you know you're alive!!"

True enough... you may not be happy you're alive when you're hurting. But at least you can rest assured that, if you're in pain, you're still here and kicking.

I have been working hard to make sure I meditate at least once a day, and I've even been getting two sessions in on a fairly regular basis.  Between the anemia and the gastritis, working out fell totally off the turnip truck.  But I figured, in those moments when the pain had subsided sufficiently to think clearly, I could at least take care of myself spiritually.  Meditation is very much like working out.  You might not feel a damn bit different if you do it once.  But do it once a day for two weeks, and it can change everything about your life.

And where my meditations -- mostly on gratitude, which I feel is the quickest way to feeling loved and loving simultaneously -- have led me is to the realization that, until I'm doing what I love, I'm wasting my life, my time, my health, my joy and my gifts, and the Universe is NOT going to let me forget it.  It's the infamous "pebble-brick-boulder" scenario.  First, the Universe pelts you with the pebble, then it hits you with a brick, and if you're still not listening, you get the boulder.

If there's one thing this experience over the past several weeks has taught me.... you really want to start paying attention before you get the boulder.  The boulder tends to be something like a heart attack or a massive stroke or a malignant tumor.  If you can catch it at pebble level (an achey and nonspecific mental ennui), or at the very least get it at the brick stage (gastritis, pancreatitis, a bladder or kidney infection), then you're going okay.  You can recover.

So, now that we've headed the boulder off at the pass, I am starting to take steps to change everything up, so that I can do what makes me happy, and actually get paid for it.  What makes me happy? This makes me happy.  Writing makes me happy.  Reading makes me happy.  Listening to other people read makes me happy.  Working as a legal assistant... does. Not. Make. Me. Happy.  (It does pay the occasional bill, however, and for this we are eternally grateful.) Doing the happy things makes me smile... kind of like that little yellow guy at the bottom of the pain chart, whose pain level is ZERO.

Because if everything is right, if it's going the way it's supposed to, life is really supposed to be pain-free.  Sans pain.  Absolutely, 100% painless.  That's how you know nothing is wrong.  Because it doesn't hurt when you do this.  Or that.  Or anything for that matter.

It's time to get right with the Universe and keep the boulders at bay.  There are phone calls to be made.  There is a business plan to draw up.  There are decisions to be made.  There is cheaper housing to find and there is packing to do.

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