Chronic Pain Tales and Poesy, 2: Surrender and Conquer

Corpses are meat and bone, but a person is much more than that… This might be one of the reasons why chronic pain—like depression, anxiety and other maladies that affect both mind and body—is so difficult to explain to people who haven’t experienced the hurts this condition can bring to a life.

Chronic pain crushes flesh, cracks bone and chokes the spirit until the mouth wants to scream, scream, scream… without being able to do so because making any sound just hurts too damn much. This kind of agony can (and will most likely) alter almost everything a person does from day to day, and the way she or he approaches tomorrow.

In my case, the need for drastic alterations came slowly. Sometimes I wonder if my unwillingness to let go of activities and behaviors—which at one point I thought made me who I am—was what kept the changes at bay this long; what sent all the uglies my way at the same time… But that’s another post. This entry is to discuss the importance of listening to our minds and bodies, in order to get as much as we can out of life. As always, by “we” I mean “me.”

I’ve had to change a lot of things to accommodate my chronic pain. It hasn’t been easy physically or mentally. I tend to get upset when my body doesn’t want to do the things it always did with so much ease. Let’s use fiction writing as an example. In fewer than five months, my word count has decreased by more than fifty percent. At the beginning, it broke my heart… Then I got angry… After that I spent a bit of time fighting not to feel sorry for myself… working like a beast to reclaim my old self.

Can you see the problem with that kind of thinking, my Wicked Luvs? Of course you can—you aren’t all sexiness and great smiles, you are also brilliant. I didn’t have my same “old self” to “reclaim,” and my bullheadedness (disguised as an obscene form of resilience) was abusing the self I had grown into; the only self I have!

Thank goodness the madness didn’t last too long. My nearly supernatural ability to run my mouth and to listen to souls, who have lived longer than I have, made me privy to a very important piece of wisdom: I had to surrender to the whims of my enemy—mind and body—in order to understand it enough to be able to conquer it.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the past few months: surrendering the things my body can no longer manage. Then v e r y   s l o w l y, I’m embracing new activities and behaviors that bring me pleasure without adding to my pain. And you know, my Wicked Luvs? Every now and again I get to kick the invisible bastard in the teeth. I don’t win every battle—not even close— but I’ve learned to make the enemy submit to my will often enough to make me happy.

I’ve altered the way I sleep, eat, dress, exercise, do chores, travel, interact with others, the way I react to what others have to say (this one takes a lot of work and I’m not all that good at it… yet) and the most difficult thing to do: I’ve changed my approach to writing.

I Write Fewer Words: When I keep my head down for too long, to do things like typing, I get nosebleeds. I can’t be an active member of the writing group I belonged to for the last few years. With 2-5 medical appointments a week, the exhaustion, the nosebleeds… I can’t stay healthy and keep up with the amount of critiquing and writing the group requires of its members. They were extremely kind, even offered to critique my contributions without demanding the same of me. I thanked them and declined. You see, my Wicked Luvs, my body might have been grateful for the respite, but my spirit would have howled in pain at the thought that she couldn’t pull her own weight.

But worry not; I will NEVER allow the invisible bastard to take away the satisfaction I get every time I finish and share a new piece of writing. This is why I started posting poetry like “Fresh” and “Your Lust Is Chronic” and “I Was Me”. Crafting poems keeps my brain housing group in working order and pleases my needy Muse.

And because the Universe loves her witchy writer woman so much, three days after I said goodbye to my old fiction writing group, I received an email from the Creative Director of Imaginary Garden with Real Toads. She invited me to become a member of their poetry writing community. I said yes *giggles*, and I’m having a poetic blast.

I’ve also just started writing and sharing very short flash fiction again. Remember “Neglect” and “Of Blair and Morning Glories”? Well, I just wrote “Petrichor,” a flash with all kinds of layered kick. I hope your prose reading hunger is pacified with these morsels… at least until October, when I plan to serve a main course full of “Blooming Howls”.

So… I’ve surrendered the things I can no longer handle with ease, and have been conquering new things that make my body and mind just as happy. What have you had to give up, my Wicked Luvs, in order to reclaim and hold on to your Selves?

Opening my hand to something Fresh,
encouraging my spirit to hop with newfangled music…
until we can dance with our forever old Self.

49 comments:

  1. RESPECT! I adore your fighting spirit and positive attitude, and I'm so happy you are finding new outlets for your writing. You are a strong, amazing, wise, and talented woman!

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    1. Keep on talking like that and my narcissism might burst out and sing like an enormous bird, lol!

      Thanks for the words, Reba. They help to fuel the days when my "fighting spirit" is not feeling so positive or happy... and just wants to glare and whine at everything. ;-) ♥

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  2. I have given-up nothing because I still have the memory of it ALL !

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    1. Awesome response Lori :D

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    2. I think in a year or two, I will be able to delight in the memories. Things are too fresh for me yet... I need to love the new things first, and then delight in the old. If I do it any other way, then I find myself yearning for the things that can no longer be. My brain understands itself. It kind of works for us. ;-D

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    3. Thank you< Gina, <3

      I must be honest, though, and say that sometimes, those memories break my heart.

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    4. They do it to all of us... and then we pick ourselves up, and create new ones. ♥

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  3. Like Lori ...I have such wonderful memories, but in truth, I have had to give up my wanderlust. My boys often comment that I don't go for walks in the country anymore...and I tell them "I am afraid that if I started walking I probably wouldn't come back." Not because I hate my life, but because I miss my old self too much sometimes. XXX

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    1. Well, great minds and all... as you can read by my reply to Lori's comment. Yep, my general "wanderlust" is high, but I'm careful with those walks down memory lane. I'm afraid of getting lost, too...

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    2. I only ever walk half as far as I am absolutely certain that I can - after all, I need to be able to walk back, again.

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  4. As the word count diminished, the value of each piece of content completed skyrocketed into the heavens propelled by the integrity and sheer genius behind every word that you deemed worthy of placing upon a page. You leave us trolling your sites for each precious gift of newness!

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    1. No, of course I'm not crying. I just got some happy in my eyes and you know what that does. Nope, your words didn't make me cry one bit!

      Thank you, Sharon. ♥

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    2. I meant it! Don't forget it! (((HUGS)))

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  5. Denial - If you ignore the pain, it won't exist and you can go on doing all you did before.

    Anger - Ok the message has reached your brain, the pain exists, but damn it you are not going to give into it.

    Acceptance - Eventually the message gets through that sometimes, just sometimes you can't always win the battle, doesn't mean the fight is over but you have to start listening to your body.

    Adapt and Compromise - Life is a continually change, this is just another turn of the circle. Along the way you may lose some things you love doing, it's ok to grieve their loss, but as one door closes you'll always find others to open. Somethings you'll just adapt to a new you and continue but in a different way. Life is often open to compromise and deals.

    These are the stages of chronic pain and illness and they are repeated each time we hit a new turn of the circle. Magaly you are warm, wonderful, witty and wise, you'll adapt and conquer each time the wheel turns and in doing so you'll inspire others to do the same with your words. There will be days those words are more of a growl or a whine but they will be still be words of power, your power.

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    1. "There will be days those words are more of a growl or a whine but they will be still be words of power, your power." This should be a mantra!

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  6. I had no idea your pain was still so urgent, actually giving your nosebleeds regularly. I'm so sorry for your loss, of freedom to express yourself the way that you want whenever you want, and to do the activities you love to do.

    You are right, depression is very much the same, it alters you and effects every choice and action on a daily basis. But I cannot imagine living with the kind of chronic physical pain you do, how to stay friends with one's own body.

    Though, these things always bring to mind the old moral story:

    10 people with different chronic illnesses and pain, like MS, Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, cancer seek out a spiritual guide/coach/healer and say they'll do anything to rid themselves of their ailment. The guide tells them all to form a circle and put their illnesses in the center. The guide then tells them they can now all choose one illness/ailment from the circle. After some thinking they all end up taking back their own issue. 'You know what you have'.

    I hope that didn't sound flippant. To me it always meant that no-one knows more about your issue, or is better equipped t deal with it, than yourself.

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    1. I think bleeding makes everything sound more horrid, doesn't?

      And no, there is no flippancy in the old tale. I wouldn't know what to do with anxiety, agoraphobia or severe depression, but pain I can handle. The universe is often a gentle jerk.

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    2. I've never heard that little allegory, Ms Misantropia, but it's certainly got me thinking. I guess it's a variation on "better the devil you know".

      The way you're dealing with your pain is inspiring, Magaly! I'm still lost somewhere between an old self and a new self. I'm willing to adapt, but as I don't have all the answers, it's still all trial and error at this point.

      The little froggy is soooooo sweet! :D

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  7. Yesterday was a bad day pain wise! Actually it was an awful day. I couldn't breath! I had some good days in the row and as always arrogance and denial kicked in! I even went running! I payed for it in spades! But the worse thing was not the pain, or my baby seeing me this way, or not being able to care for myself. The worse thing was that I couldn't help it and I pitied myself. I don't believe there is a worse quality! Spirit beaten!
    But today is a new day with just a bit less pain and I can think again!
    We will get through this!

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    1. 1100 posts? I only have 260 or something and i can not read them all!!

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  8. I've given in to the depression, anger and bitterness and they were really nasty bedfellows and not a fun date in the long run. So instead I traded their ugly old asses in for acceptance and using my time better. Now they are becoming the kind of friends I like to hang with and share my talents. Not as prolific as I once was when it comes to arting but.....much more grateful for the time I can spend doing it. Therefore (I know sounds like a geometry equation) I have found a new happy. This old broad is getting back even if it is by smaller less lengthy strides.
    I admire your honesty, your sharing of what is real but more than that, I appreciate that you are now allowing Ms. M to be all she can be "at this moment". Way to go wickedy darling. xoxo Oma Linda

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    1. ...and those small victories are so enormously enjoyed. I was just telling my Piano Man that I never thought I would celebrate being able to curl 3 lbs., but I was a riot of happiness after my 5th repetition, lol!

      The admiration is mutual, dearest Oma, and what we get out of this totally symbiotic. ;-)

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  9. I don't think I really understood - I know I didn't understand the depth of this battle you are waging until I read today's post. It I wish there was something I could do other than acknowledge it and stand by you.

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    1. I started this feature--maybe the most person one I've ever shared--because I think many people dismiss those living with chronic pain just because they don't understand how terrible it is. Your comment makes me feel that the sharing is already paying off. And that makes me happy!

      Thanks you! ♥

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  10. My long walks are long gone, now. It's mostly activity in shorter bursts, now. I hope that at least one of your appts. deals with those nosebleeds!

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    1. Me too. The nosebleeds during the days don't bother me as much, but I'm afraid of the ones that start while I'm sleeping. Right now, I'm just hoping that the bleeding is just stress and exhaustion. I really don't want to deal with another issue. But if it comes... Well, we'll dance until it bleeds, lol!

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  11. Sister you have no idea how much I relate to this post right now. A toothache changed the course of my life, and I'd sacrifice at lest two more teeth to keep what it unveiled. Pain sucks but it opens us to ourselves...at last that seems to be what my body is doing to me. Sigh. Damn you mortality. I used to get nosebleeds when I was nervous. They suck. So does chronic pain...a lot.

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    1. Hm... my nosebleeds are worse when I'm stressed or tired. I wonder, wonder, wonder...

      I hope all the unveiled bits find their place, soon...

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  12. Oh, the sweet wee froggy! You are wise to make adjustments, Magaly. I'm sure the universe (and your body) will reward you!

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    1. That frog makes anyone's day, doesn't she?

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  13. I can fully relate to how chronic pain, as well as other maladies, can change our lives to the point of anger, depression, etc. This is why I haven't really blogged, like I used to, in about 2 years. Too many things going on that make my brain focus on things other than writing. I can still walk, but only for shorter periods of time now. My 4 mile a day goal? Yeah, right. Maybe about 20 years ago.

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    1. Thank goodness for those "shorter [walking] periods"!

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  14. Magaly, I admire your bravery and your honesty. I know what a thief chronic pain is, what a trickster, what a monster. I'm glad you've found new outlets for your writing, but most of all, I'm glad you're still writing. Every keystroke is a kick in the ass to chronic pain. And, I'm glad you're listening to your body.

    Blessings upon blessings to you, Magaly.

    Victoria

    P.S. I love that little frog!

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    1. "I know what a thief chronic pain is, what a trickster, what a monster." Sooo very true!

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  15. As someone who lives with chronic pain, I totally understand what you are going through. It has been hard on me giving up things I love, especially my long walks. Not too long ago I went out to the Coney Island boardwalk, something I used to do every Sunday afternoon. Tears came to my eyes as I took that long walk from the subway to the boardwalk. Pain meds raise my already high blood pressure so I have been researching natural ways of dealing with it.
    Mary

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    1. Goodness! My nephew and I were just talking about a trip to Coney Island (which I promised some time back). I was just thinking that I have to wait until I'm having a really good day before we go, and then still not overdo it. So many things to leave behind... But at least we are still here, right?

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  16. I understand having to rework your habits to fit the you, you are now. I had to rearrange how I do things because pushing too hard against myself I got burned out. Now I'm trying to listen to what I need and work with and against myself when needed. Sometimes I need the push. I'm happy you are still finding ways to write, even if it's not in the same ways that you used to.
    Also that frog is too cute.

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    1. And the tiny things, the ones we don't even think about (like turning my body to lift my coffee mug instead of getting up and grabbing it without turning) are what sometimes hurt/annoy us the most. Or maybe is just me. I, too, I'm happy that writing reminds mine... even if a bit different. ;-)

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  17. glad you have worked your way around it. our activities don't make us who we are, they are just a reflection.

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  18. Listening to your own body is a big part of loving yourself... we have to meet our physical saves where they are, not where we think they should be. Does that make sense? Maybe. Anyway, I think that is why we as spirits are paired up with our bodies as they are - much like giving a kid their first very own pet, "And now you have to learn to take care of it and love it, for it will be gone long before you are."

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    1. Our bodies keep our spirits in check... makes perfect sense to me. I will love them both until they giggle with delight. ;-D

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  19. You are amazing! You swallow the facts and you deal with it, without letting it destroy what you have to offer. That's a lesson I certainly should welcome into my own personality. Very inspiring Magaly!

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    1. Some days are harder than others, and I think that recognizing this fact is what gives a body the strength to take one more step... there is always hope that tomorrow will be the good day.

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  20. Keep on going my beautiful witchy friend ;o) Your soul is strong! It's good that you have adjusted things! It will only make it better for you! I don't even want to complain about my stupid knee! It could be 6 weeks and I can't do anything! Uggg! Bullshit, I say ;o) LOL! Maybe some handsome man will rescue me ;o) You never know, right? ;o))
    I love that little frog ;o)
    Big Hugs and keep on smiling ;o)

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    1. Your knee continues misbehaving! We must talk to it and tell her to be nice. I hope it heals soon, Stacy. Joint pain can be quite horrible. Also, it will keep you from doing the Stacy Happy Dances we have learned to value and hope for. Not cool; not cool at all. ;-)

      Many hugs and keep on dancing. ♥

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