Sunday, June 23, 2013

Struggling with The Now

Tonight my coven gathered for a solstice celebration. I should have been there. I wanted to be there. Instead I was at home. In pain. Worried about "what might be" and angry or stressed about "what has been".

To put it briefly for those who don't know. I was in an accident with a bus last November. I was crossing the street at a stop sign when a city bus rear ended a car I was walking in front of. With no warning, no clue, my life turned upside down. Mind you, it was never really that right side up to start with. The accident snapped my left ACL and messed up my back and shoulders. I didn't realize how badly until earlier this week when I looked at my MRI. Mind you I am an LVN, not a doctor, but I have a ruptured disk and likely a damaged one below that. The S1-L5 is the most damaged and painful back injury.

This prevents me from doing almost anything around the house. Washing dishes happens in short stints. Doing laundry requires asking the Boyfriend to carry laundry down to, and from, the washing machine in the complex's garage. Taking out trash is almost not thinkable. Here is the worst part. I could do many of these things a few months ago. I thought I was getting better. I was not. I was getting worse. So here I am, unable to sleep because of pain, typing away.

Now that I have covered the catch up phase let us get to the thing I have been musing about. The Now. I want to be in the moment, and in this place. I want to be able to pay attention to what I am doing so that I can do it with intent. But, what do you do when it sucks? I find myself being bitter about the past and it tugs at my mind. I am obsessing about things that happened that I can't change and it distracts me from what is in front of me. I am being angry at people that don't matter any more and scared by the things that may happen.  I keep forgetting the things that I need to be focused on here and the people that I care about now. True sometimes I dreams of good things that may happen. But, I am almost always anywhere but now and almost always anywhere but here.

I understand it on some level. Pain does things to the way you think. My nursing training, my work experience and my personal life experience tells me this. But it is entirely different when the person in pain is you, and you have been in pain for months. Constant pain, even low levels of pain, wear you down. I think low levels of pain are worse than the high level "screaming my head off" pain because you can try to ignore it. You can be in denial. After a while your mind starts to wander to places other than the pain, to times other than when you have the pain. *shrug* It makes sense to me.

So, here is the question. What do you do when you want to be focused on the here and now, yet you are also in pain? Meditation works well for me, but tends to lead down a path to sleep. So, that is probably better for pain management. Distraction like reading a book or playing a game can help but that doesn't get much done. I need to be able to do constructive thinking, processing, and planning. I have a life to live and I can't do it if I am always somewhere else. Pain doesn't seem very considerate of my life

 When you are in pain The Now can be a very scary place. It is filled with difficulty doing small things like putting on your shoes or bending over to put your pants on. There are shameful things, like hiding your pain from your friends because it makes them uncomfortable. And, there are pride wounding things, like not being able to pick up your wallet at the store when you drop it. Don't forget all the little things like not being able to run to catch the bus if you are late, or the looks you get when you stay seated on that crowded bus and some poor old lady is struggling in front of you with a lurching crazy bus ride. I could go on and on... But, the issue is not the problems it is the result of the problems, the effect. How and why would you want to stay in any of these moments when you are fighting through a haze of pain just to be there?

Oh, I think I may have been going about this the wrong way. I am not struggling with The Now, I am struggling with the pain. By not accepting my pain and working within the scope of what it lets me do I guess I just don't get much done. Or, maybe it's better to say, I shouldn't feel badly because my pain limits the way I have to live my life. I need to learn how to live within the constraints of what I can reasonably do and not beat myself up for what is beyond my ability. It's my life, I will live it my way. If I am slower than other people then so be it. If I have to ask for help then I will. I suspect I will be much happier if I do what I can to my fullest rather than try to over reach or hold myself up to an ideal that I can not physically conform to. That just requires a lot of shifting in my way of thinking. And, until I come to terms with it, it will block my way to living in the moment, to being in The Now. This may take a while. *sigh*  Such is life. And, a new journey begins...

I could have edited out parts of this as I came to the end as to not make myself appear so silly. I only realized as I was typing this what I was truly having a problem with. I leave it whole and intact so those of you with people in your lives who struggle with constant pain may understand a little of what it may be like. It is my way of sharing what I am learning as I go down this specific road.