In my blog I talk about having weapons in the battle of chronic back pain. I talk about being engaged in a war with pain and sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. Will the battle ever be won?
Having had a recent bout of losing the battle it has made me think about whether this approach is the right one? Maybe I should be looking at making peace and not war? I sure am tired of war!
Human beings constantly strive. We strive to do things better, we strive to demand more of our bodies, we just strive for more (whatever more is in our particular case). In my case I strive to use my body without pain.
So what happens when I have a period of no pain….I might enjoy the feeling of release for a short time but the over-riding thought is to want more of my body without much thought to staying pain-free. I am no longer content just to settle for this period of pain release, I want to use my new found freedom and push on. The battle starts again. I soon end up losing again.
It’s the same feeling when we do our exercises and feel a bit better and then decide we don’t need to carry on. This is all fine until we soon come back to being in pain and needing to start up again. We are frustrated and annoyed that we are back where we started. It’s a yo-yo effect which does nothing to make us feel like we are in control.
So what can we do. How can we change our thinking. How can we dampen down the enthusiasm for striving when we are given a new lease of pain-free living. Should we dampen the enthusiasm down at all?
In my case, I think the answer to the last question is definitely yes going on recent and not so recent past history! I may dream of being an Olympic athlete, of playing tennis for hours or playing cricket on the beach with the children but there are perhaps a few negotiations to go through before then!
Is this where peace comes in? How do we reconcile peace and striving? To make peace there usually has to be some bargaining done. Next time I have some precious moments of being pain-free I will bargain with all my might.
I will consciously recognise I have got to a good point.
I will assess what got me to this point.
I will make sure I continue with what I did to get me here. This is keeping up my part of the bargain with pain.
I will realistically set myself goals for striving for more, knowing that I will need to up my side of the peace negotiations!
I will try my hardest not to forget, not to take for granted and not to ignore my bargain in these peace negotiations.
If things go wrong I will start again having learnt a little more!
This level of conscious thought is now required. I have done carefree, trying to ignore and forget. At times it has worked wonders and for some it can be the key. When there is physical damage accompanying chronic pain or a yo-yoing effect I believe more thought is required. A balance between peace and striving whilst keeping the battle at bay. I will always strive, but perhaps now with more consciousness and will to keep the peace!
So peace it must be. 🙂
(Sarah does not have a medical background so it is emphasised that her blog is the result of her experiences and listening to others only. Before doing any of the suggestions contained in her blog, check with your doctor if you have any concerns on how they may affect you)
A comment forwarded from Sarah Key
Sarah Key here.
Rather than the notion of war and peace on the journey to wellness, it would prefer (and still using the military metaphor) the concept of ‘advance and retreat’
There is no doubt that the body can become battle weary in the rehabilitation journey; sore, ragged nerve endings and tired just like a battle weary warrior. The advantage for you is that you are ‘on the inside’ and can tell when your body has reached this point and needs a rest. The path of recovery is never smooth. The path of recovery needs periods of respite and lay-days just like any hard working machine. It’s important not to be robotic about your exercises. It’s important to listen to your body and if you are tired, then give in to it. If you are sore, hear your body telling you that and heed the whisperings; don’t keep flogging it. And furthermore, don’t see it as a failure that you have to stop or soft-pedal for a day or two. It’s all part of the journey. Advance and make progress, reach your limit and retreat until you have regrouped and the flurry of inflammatory reaction has settled. Progress is only made possible by the inflammatory response, so it is not something to be frightened of. In fact it means there is good inks going on in there while the body is mopping up the damage. Your main job is to stop your over-twitchy body reacting too hastily and the muscles flicking in to over-protective mode (muscle spasm).
And finally, the best way of coping with the rising panic and confusion is to breathe properly (using the diaphragm in the Buteyko style is subtle and profoundly potent) to collect yourself. It will also allow you that necessary pool of calm to clear your head.