The beauty of the sky
The myriad of colors
The sounds of life abound
Even with the ever ringing in the ears…
It is as if I had been in a lifetime slumber
My senses forever dulled
Reaching upwards for help
While overwhelmed in quicksand…
Illness strips us of the familiar
We are thrust into the unknown
Each step taken as with a blindfold
Hands outstretched groping in darkness…
Our medical teams struggle
Conditions and illnesses so misunderstood
Further muddled by myriad of symptoms
Each of us so different from the other…
We search for answers
Yet try as we might
We find health elusive
Stripped from us and locked away
Secreted in the darkest, farthest corner…
We are tried and tested in ways indescribable
As words are a shallow testament
To the inner symptoms that abound
Forever changing and challenging…
My Clinical Psychologist introduced me to a powerful tool to add to my arsenal. It is called “mindfulness”:
“A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
She walked me through a breathing exercise…complete focus on the breath itself…feeling the cooled air entering my nose…feeling it hit the back of the throat…feeling the rise in my chest as the air enters the lungs…feeling a second, subtle rise of the chest before exhaling…feeling the warmth of the air as it leaves the body.
I was then read a short story about washing dishes, from “The Miracle of Mindfulness”….I will share just one paragraph that sums up the idea of mindfulness very well…
“…If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not ‘washing the dishes to wash the dishes.’ What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future — and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”
I applied this during my walk outside this morning. I took the time to not just see the sun…but to, really, “see” it! I felt its warmth…the rays touching my skin…the brightness shining…the reflection on the leaves. I felt the slight breeze…ever so gently twisting and turning the leaves in the trees…the slight movement of my shirt being pressed against my skin…the movement of the hairs on my arms…
It was truly amazing!! My focus was dramatically shifted…momentarily transported into the present time…fully embracing and experiencing what was happening around and to me.
At my first follow up appointment on Thursday, it was very difficult to know how much (percentage wise) the pain pump was working vs the pain medication vs the complete rest. I could tell that there was a change in my symptoms…for example, the intense stabbing in my upper back was gone replaced by dull ache.
Our conditions are hard to articulate…the fact that our symptoms (read this as types of pain being experienced — stabbing, dull, throbbing, ice pick, aching) are not the same from day to day! Just as soon as you being to expect the intense stabbing in your feet, your feet will ache instead and the stabbing has moved to your chest…not to mention all the other pain sensations all over your body.
By Friday night it was clear that the slight reduction in oral medication and the slightly more than conservative increase of the medication from the pain pump was not enough!
I have an appointment set for this coming Thursday morning…however, I will be calling my pain specialist Monday morning to let him know that we need to turn the pump up…much more aggressively!
This is to be expected! It is going to take time to get the pain pump dialed in to fully be able to do its job. I do NOT expect to be pain free…I am just hoping we can get my pain level to a 6 or 7!
I am glad that I will be able to provide my doctor with more specific information in regards to how I am doing at the current levels…and, most importantly, I know that this is temporary! We will work through this!
When I got home and was able to enjoy my first shower since my pain pump surgery, I had a few things come to mind.
If you are lucky like me, you have a walk-in, handicap shower (complete with the extra support bars…inside and out…as well as a seat or bench and floor mat). If you do not, or have not purchased some safety items (like a seat and added handrails)….do so before attempting a shower! Otherwise, you will need to have someone there to assist you.
Plan to take your time…there is no need to rush any step! And set a simple goal, like washing your hair or shaving your underarms (if applicable). Just the feel of the water is a huge boost for having only sponge baths for two or so weeks!!
Have your comfy clothes laid out to put on…and rest afterwards. A lot of energy is used in the shower…not to mention all the energy used going to the doctor appointment earlier in the day.
Don’t worry about any “finishing touches” (like lotion)…the only item I suggest is deodorant to complete the endeavor. For many of us, the dry skin can be driving you crazy! Just remember…there will be time after a nap to put some lotion on your arms!
What a huge accomplishment for the day… now sit back and relax!
Below the surface
Threatening to erupt
The inevitable struggle
Whether recognized or not…
Why is there such stigma
An artificial wall per se
Associated with our feelings
That cause me to hide…
For some emotions are friends
The ability to interact
To easily express
I think you have a special gift…
To me the intensity
The incredible raw power
Harnessed within its grasp
I would rather not feel…
I channel in pieces
The emotions that
Are churning within…
Today is day 11 after pain pump surgery. I am amazed at my body in regards to its reaction to this surgery…it is the FIRST time that my body is responding like a “normal” body would!
I am writing in consideration of my most recent surgery only…the fact that the incision areas are itching…that I can get in and out of bed…that I can sit in my recliner…all is progressing as it should!
I am sure a huge part of this is the fact that I have been super conscious to do EXACTLY as I had discussed pre-surgery with my pain specialist. I allowed my body to dictate each and every day…not putting any pressure on myself to meet any type of goal. By letting go of any preconceived ideas or outcomes, I removed a major stressor.
I have not focused on symptoms…not considered the amount of time spent sleeping…not concerned about what day it is…
In letting everything go, my incision sites have been allowed to heal as they should! I am excited for my upcoming follow up appointment. I am ready for this new adventure to begin.