It’s day one of the program. Today is all intro sessions. Intro to physical therapy, occupational therapy, pain management, relaxation, and mindfulness. I seem to be one of the most limited people in the program, but I also seem to know the most about pain and pain management. I had pain, and spent a lot of the day lying on a soft bench with my hand over my eyes while I listened to lectures. And I found that my pain would flare up but then die down again if I just waited. I didn’t have to leave and go be alone, like I am used to doing.
It was an exciting, energizing day. I kind of didn’t want to go home. I wish we were having a pain sleepover. The most pleasant part of today was being around other people my age with chronic pain. Everybody is smart, intelligent, and compassionate. And maybe a little too hard on themselves. I have something in common with these people, I thought. I just wanted to hug everyone. You’re here too!? I kept thinking.
The most unpleasant part of my day was actually when I got home and started to write this post. That’s when the day’s pain hit me. Doing this every day is going to kick my ass–in a good way I hope.
One thing I learned from today: A moderate amount of cussing is scientifically proven to dampen pain. So f*** this f****** pain!
After falling on my hip in a solo seven years ago, I developed chronic pain that slowly became persistent and severe. I gradually lost my ability to do even basic activities: sitting, standing, walking, cooking, cleaning, traveling. Even listening to conversation or being around other people for too long can cause unmanageable pain, so I have pulled away from many people I know and love. My life has changed profoundly as I adapt to disability and loss, amid getting married, switching careers, leaving Brooklyn, and raising a child. I sometimes discover a joy and gratitude that feels unshakeable; and as often, I am consumed by rage and panic. Zen Buddhism, a dedicated partner and friends, and an understanding of pain biology have been crucial supports. After years of failed treatments and no diagnosis, I have a good understanding of what’s happening to me and how to treat it. The result of my self-study is a four-week comprehensive pain treatment program I’m beginning tomorrow at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. It will be a serious challenge but may lead to serious gains. I am scared, excited, hopeful, determined.
Continue reading “Four Weeks at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab”
To cure myself of anorexia, I needed a diet plan, one that was clear and structured and that I could convince myself was a normal human diet. That was important, because I knew that as soon as I started eating more, my mind would tell me I’d binged and I’d feel horrible about myself. So I had to find a diet that definitely couldn’t count as a binge.
Continue reading “My Eating Disorder: Part 3 (still Montana)”
There once was a man who lived in a cage. It was quite cramped but he made the best of it. He did not know that there was anything outside of the cage. He had good days in the cage and bad days in the cage. He invented games to amuse himself. It was often uncomfortable and confining to live in the cage, but since the man did not know he was in a cage, he did not know why he felt confined.
Continue reading “The Man Who Lived in a Cage”