Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pain and Dependance

I threw out my back the other day. Badly -- as in, I took a hot shower to try to ease some of the pain and ended up on the floor unable to move for a good half-hour.

This is not the first time this has happened. Sadly, I seem to always forget to lift correctly, and having a young child in the house once again means I have been constantly not lifting her correctly. One wrong move getting her out of the high chair did me in.

As I sat there on the floor, Dan kept asking me how he could help. Only I didn't know what to tell him, because I knew moving would mean excruciating pain. It reminded me of being in labor with Anna, when everything we'd learned in the childbirth class went out the window.

After a while my muscles stopped spasming enough for me to inch my way slowly up to my hands and knees. I thought of how pathetic I must look. Crawling, my hair still wet. I thought about all my plans. It was the day before Easter, darn it! I needed to get to the store! I needed to get the Easter baskets together!

I wasn't going anywhere for a while. Never mind the store -- I wondered how I'd make it to the bathroom.

As I ever-so-slowly tried to get myself off the floor, I thought about pain. I thought how no matter how hard I tried to recall, I couldn't articulate what labor pain (14 months ago, without the benefit of any drugs) had actually felt like. In retrospect I only know it left me feeing nearly delirious. This pain was completely different, yet the same. Both left me desperately dependent. Humbled. Wanting to do little else but curl into a ball, except --

Except the only way out of pain was to move.

When in labor they tell you the worst thing you can do is to hold your breath. Yet extreme pain causes us to do just that. The flow of oxygen actually helps ease the pain, but it's not in our nature to keep breathing free and easy when we feel like we're dying.

Sometimes, when you're giving birth to something, the only way out is literally through the pain.

Treating back pain, having been through this before, is strangely counter-intuitive. You think that you've strained yourself and sent muscles spasming, and the best thing to do is rest. Don't move. Sink into the couch with a heating pad and call it a day. Yet not moving is actually the worst thing you can do. That's when things can seize up on you even worse than before. It's only when you begin to move and keep moving that the work of healing begins.

How funny is that: that the times we are in the most pain, and are most dependent on someone besides ourselves, are sometimes the times we are expected to, that we have to move?

I thought about my faith walk, about what faith is: being expected to take steps trusting soley on God rather than my own feeble efforts. Faith without movement really isn't faith at all.

I thought about grief, and fear. There are stages of pain and loss and mourning, yes. Like the pain I've dealt with for five days now, it doesn't heal on an even trajectory. It ebbs and flows. Two steps forward, one step back. Or worse -- one step forward, two steps back.

And fear. Oh, fear. I procrastinate a lot about the things I fear. But not moving will never truly eradicate the anxiety. I must face things. What did Eleanor Roosevelt say? "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." This is what I say to my kids, whether it's eating mashed potatoes that make them want to gag or getting up on a stage. I want them to be brave. But I have to be brave, too.

My back. It still hurts. Yeah, I went to the doctor (have I mentioned -- I really, really hate going to the doctor). I have some muscle relaxants. I have exercises. But while I'm working on that, I'm going to try to remember to not forget to move. Even when it hurts. Even when it's scary. It's the only way through. It's the thing I must do.

1 comment:

Derek Sparks said...

That's tough. Still, it's rather impressive how you managed to pull through, despite being pinned down by the pain. I hope the injury wasn't too bad that the effects can't be completely healed. Anyway, aside from the meds and exercise, you could seek out the services of a chiropractor, especially if the pain still flare up despite the pain meds. Take care!

Derek Sparks @ Forgey Chiropractic