Coming out of a flare, such as the one that I described in my last post, is like diving into crystal clear water and discovering one has gills. The world is new again, it’s interesting, it’s happier. When I take the time to appreciate how wonderful I am feeling in comparison to previous days, it’s like being on holiday. You know that feeling when you can just relax and doing things seems like fantastical fun rather than a chore? That’s the one I mean.
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Saturday was a total write off and Sunday wasn’t much more fun. The pain lessened overnight, however the humidity was still keeping me puffed up and stinging. Late Sunday afternoon I was able to have a long soak in the bath, which helped to relieve all my muscles from the tension they were holding as a result of dealing with so much pain.
The body’s natural response to pain is to tense up and protect an injured area, however when dealing with chronic pain this response starts to turn into an attack. Unresolved tension causes further pain and can even cause extra injuries, such as pulled muscles and postural problems. Secondary pain is not something that anybody suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome needs and attending to these aches is of the utmost importance when managing chronic pain.
Lately I have increased my rehabilitation activities. This has been in part due to honing my focus on healing and in part due to having freed up my schedule from too many appointments and special occasions. I have been doing longer Feldenkrais sessions, more frequently meditating and getting as much physical activity happening as I can handle without pushing myself into a flare (the big weekend flare was weather, rather than activity driven).
The result of all of this focus is that I have been feeling like I am an athlete in training, albeit training that differs dramatically from what one would expect upon hearing the word “athlete”. My body is in a state of transformation and thus a state of constant upheaval. I am very purposefully messing with my movement patterns and reorganising my brain like this can leave my body feeling very disjointed, unfamiliar and often uncomfortable. Just like an athlete, I need to balance my physical workouts with rest, kindness to my muscles and general recuperation.
There is a difference between the pain of discomfort and the pain of a CRPS flare and the discomfort I can handle. It certainly wasn’t comfortable as my body went from well-functioning to disabled and I can’t expect that the reverse trip should be any easier. I want to influence massive changes within myself and change isn’t a comfortable process. That’s become a concept that is ok with me, I’d rather go on any new adventure than stay settled on my cushions. The realisation that one can be comfortable being uncomfortable is as liberating as a turning key in the lock of a prison cell.
Monday was marvellous. I slept for close to 10 hours, which is almost unthinkable for me. I assume that my body was rather exhausted after torturing itself for a couple of days. I awoke to clear, sunny skies and more importantly, fresh, non-humid air. I sat out in the sun reading for some time – a little too long from the odd-looking areas of sunburn on me. I’m not too fussed about that, it was glorious to be able to sit outside!
The rest of the day consisted of pacing my way through the little things that get my life running again. Feldenkrais, meditation, the usual. I have been working with a new Feldenkrais audio track that gives the brain a lot of feedback about how the spine is moving and how it connects through different movements. After completing this hour long movement session, followed by a rest, I used the awareness that I had generated about my body to vacuum. Vacuuming is a dangerous task to the chronic pain battler, but I am pleased to say that mindfully paying attention to my movement as I completed it made the job both easier and more enjoyable.
In fact, I enjoyed just about every minute of yesterday. I was just so glad to be out of the agony. This is the first time I remember being so mindful and aware after a flare. The first time I have felt such gratitude, to the universe in general, that it is over. I know it won’t be the last, but that knowledge isn’t interfering with me loving this interlude of lessened pain.
Love & Respite,