This week I’m appreciating my mind and body’s extraordinary healing powers – something we women in pain can lose sight of.
Last Monday, after receiving some crappy work news, I took my frustration out on an innocent, “Happy New Year” balloon in our home office. 2015’s been less than stellar, so it made sense at the time.
I was surprised to have pretty nasty pain in my wrist and hand a couple of hours later – then spooked the next day when it migrated to my neck and shoulder. I brushed it off (denial!) and did all my mat physical therapy. Big mistake as it spiked my pain to a “this-could-be-a-BIG-new problem” level.
Terrified Wednesday morning (catastrophizing!) that I’d lose swimming forever, I hit the pool with a vengeance thinking I could out run, er… swim, the pain. Big Mistake: The Sequel. I was much worse.
Walking to the car, I felt defeated. I ran into a gal pal yoga instructor and told Jan about the injury. She caringly shared, “It’s good to keep moving, Cynthia. But if it’s fresh, you should ice and heat for 48 hours.”
Because ice can spread CRPS, I microwaved a corn-kernel heating pad and put it to work. But no dice – my day was hell as the pain shot through the roof. It felt like hot coals were being poured into my shoulder, a possible sign that my CRPS was spreading (super-duper catastrophizing!)
For hours, my mind raced with what my “new normal” might look like. Because I only have one good arm (my PT broke the other), swimming and mat pilates would be out, I’d have to work lying down, I wouldn’t be able to pet or groom my kitties, I’d be at a level 10 pain for months, perhaps years, on and on… Complete, utter, absolute disaster was knocking at my door.
Funny enough, I chose not to open it.
Instead, I lay down with my heat, popped a couple of Advil… and deeply meditated. Using one of my favorite guided imagery CDs, within 15 minutes I was able to calm my mind. I decided that this was just a simple injury (acceptance!) and that my body could take care of itself if I and my fears got out of its way.
Over the next several days, I lessened my exercise routine and never worked through pain. I kept heating and meditating, watched my stress level as well as some fun movies I’d been wanting to catch up on. My body thanked me by improving my range-of-motion and lowering my pain level. I knew I was on the mend.
Sunday gave me a profound challenge. John and I were in downtown LA looking for, of all things, a piñata for his upcoming birthday. In my wheelchair, we stumbled upon a frightening scene. We suddenly rolled into Skid Row and saw police everywhere. There had just been a shooting death and everyone was tense to put it mildly.
I felt vulnerable, scared and immediately my shoulder pain barked. But I made a conscious decision (empowered!) to relax my shoulder, body and mind. I closed my eyes and took ten slow deep breaths. Pain at bay, John and I got safely back to our car.
I’m still on the mend, but that’s to be expected just one week after my epic balloon battle. Yesterday, I swam my normal pain-free laps – and this morning, I was confidently back on the mat. Happy to report, my feline babes, Zanzibar and Haydée, are well-coiffed to boot.
This morning I’m off to see my wonderful Integrative doctor who will smile at my tale of self-care and fear-deflating. He’ll give me neck and shoulder pressure point injections (relief!) and acupuncture.
While those needles work their magic for 20 heavenly minutes in a dark room with a heat lamp, I’ll meditate and send deep appreciation to my mind and body… for their healing wisdom.