Driving Past Limits And Through Lessons

Dear Audy,

This week has been all about recovery. I can’t always stop an activity from flaring up my CRPS symptoms, however I can choose to focus on reducing the recovery time, rather than not doing the trigger happy activity. It’s all a part of the mental games that I play in order to cope with chronic pain; the benefits of messing with my own perspectives on things have been too great for me to dream of stopping now.

Driving is my biggest challenge as far as improving my speed of recovery goes. Being able to travel independently opens up so many options in my otherwise quiet and homely life.

I have pushed my limits quite a bit in the past week. I travelled solo to my Feldenkrais appointment last Thursday, which is a good 40 minute drive either way. It’s so wonderful to be having sessions with my instructor after an extended break, she always manages to give me something new and inspiring to think about.

She mentioned that Moshe Feldenkrais defined health by how quickly one recovers after a blow (physical or emotional). Being that that topic is exactly what I have been focusing on lately, it felt like one of those little moments when the universe randomly shows a connection that makes you feel as though you are, in some way, on the right track.

We can’t stop challenging things happening, but we can choose to let them disrupt our lives as little as possible.

The drive to Feldenkrais left me exhausted, but not so much so that the benefits of the session were voided. This has always been my main concern with taking myself to these appointments, I don’t want to undo the good work just getting home again! Thankfully, my body is responding well enough to the treatment that it can cope with a little vibration without forgetting the good stuff that my instructor just taught it.

The second and third pushes to my limits were so that I could go out and enjoy sweet sounding musicians with guitars and fun percussionists. Friday night I went to see Luke Thompson and Tim Hart at The Grace Darling Hotel. This was a lot of fun as the gig was my friend’s choice and so all the acts were new to me. I do love the atmosphere of a low key pub gig! Plus the discovery of new, sexy voices for my tunes collection.

On Sunday afternoon I went to see Holly Throsby play at The Speigeltent. I hadn’t been there in years, so that was a nice adventure. The afternoon light inside the mirror filled tent created a delightful atmosphere and the music was divine. Holly is one of my favourite performers to see live; her voice and performance style are just so darn likeable!

So, that was a lot of driving for one weekend. Pushing my limits this hard at one time allowed me to make some observations that will help me to continue driving and recovering.

I am sorest the morning after, it’s like a hangover of the nervous system. There is a lot of widespread nerve tingling pain and a massive sense of fatigue. This is in part because going out usually involves a later night than staying in. I have needed to take painkillers on a couple of these mornings, which is something I would like to work toward not needing. The lesson? Never have plans the day after I have plans.

I also learnt that how I drive is super important. Any extra tension that I hold onto will result in further pain the next day. I have to breath deeply, stay relaxed, continually scan my body (especially my thighs) for work that doesn’t need to be happening and keep checking that my hands are only lightly touching the wheel (you don’t need to cling to it in order to be in control of the car).

In that way that people can sometimes manipulate immeasurable energies, I try to imagine the vibrations from the car passing all the way through my body. I try to breathe them out, to let them go in a meditative kind of way. Visualisation can be a powerful tool and I find that simply imagining the vibrations dissipating helps me to stop storing up so much stimulation that will only torture me later.

The final important lesson? Three drives in fours days might just be a bit too much, for now. My driving ankle developed quite an intense flare on Tuesday night. My legs have been exceptionally sore and I am having little lightning pains in the joints of my hands.

The past day has seen Melbourne swamped in humidity, so it’s impossible to tell how much of my pain is being caused by that and how much is the activity hangover. I’m going to assume that the ankle/leg pain is probably caused by driving and the rest is just being amplified by the weather. Giving myself reasons that they exist can help with not being freaked out by flares and help me remember that they are temporary.

I have noticed a rise in anxiety in the past 24 hours. Things like waking up with thoughts circling and getting all worried about things, even though I know how little worry actually helps anything.

Last night I had and “AHA!” moment when I realised that my pain and my attempts to keep getting things done were stressing me out a little. Noticing this process is the first step to undoing it. I can still feel those evil thought monkeys nattering about the edges of my mind, however they are merely inspiring me to overcome them, rather than wrapping me up in their lies.

For the rest of the day I shall take a little extra special care of myself. I will stretch, eat healthily, practise Feldenkrais and watch me a girly movie or two. Wow, if this was the 1950s, “girly movie” would probably have a whole other meaning, but this is the 20Teens and so it just means Breaking Dawn and maybe something that’s terrible and full of Katherine Heigl.

So basically, “girly movies” are now “bad movies” that for some reason speak to my inner teenage girl. What can I say? She’s a teenager, she needs constant validation despite the fact that I’ve grown up and locked her inside.

Do you manage to keep driving despite chronic pain? Any tips on how you cope with this on a continual basis?

Love & Left Hand Turns,

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  • 6 thoughts on “Driving Past Limits And Through Lessons

    1. Suzanne Stewart

      Hi Sweetie!! It was nice to read the fun things that you did! I am alot like you in that I try to do what I can do snd suffer later! I figure I can be in pain at home in bed or I can be in pain out doing something … Just that we pay later ! But what kind of life would it be if we let the pain take over? Xo

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        So true, life just gets too boring if I don’t push the envelope sometimes! I think that I’ll be taking it a little bit slower in April however, March has been so busy and filled with things to do that it felt a little bit like December. They need to try and keep my events pasty little further apart. Much love to you! XX

    2. Ross

      Great to see you doing so good as of late. A long drive is hard for me. Getting comfortable isn’t easy but I find putting music on helps me relax in the car. Where I live we deal with extreme cold in the winter so that can throw my CRPS into a frenzy getting into a cold car so heated seats really help!

    3. Tracey

      Happy dance for lots of independent adventures … being able to drive yourself around is such a wonderful thing to do (I don’t know how I used to cope in the past without my own car). I love your photos and wish you many more pain-free days.

      PS. Holly Throsby is so sweet and such a joy to watch perform. :)

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Whenever I do actually manage to drive myself somewhere it’s a little bit like being 18 again, freeeeeeedom! The effort was totally worth it for Holly, she’s always so fantastic :) x

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