Perpetually A Work In Progress

Dear Audy,

Even after all this time, the absolute ridiculousness of my health can still astound me. One part of me starts to feel better and then another part starts acting up. I spend weeks hardly able to walk, finally get my foot (or whatever) functioning, only to spend weeks hardly able to use my hands.

Any progress that I make towards healing is continually thwarted by this cycle; I must make the same improvements, the same functionality advancements, again and again just to make them stick. It gets….boring.


It’s like a job that never gets finished. I write it up, send it in and the editor always sends it back covered in red marks. So I make the changes and send it back in, only to receive it once again, yet this time the corrections required are changes back to the original. So I edit to the requirements and re-submit…but it never stays that way. It never stays submitted. It always comes back and I am never able to move on from working on it.

Not even at the end of the day. Not even on the weekends. Not even on public holidays. I can never stop working on pain management because I am never not in pain.

Even so, I am not doing a terrible job. I am getting better at just doing the things that are going to help my pain, such as stretching, heat packs, Feldenkrais, gentle exercise, rest, postural breaks… I keep doing them and I slowly make a difference.

My foot is almost recovered from the fat pad issue. As long as I stay aware of it and don’t push it too far, it lets me walk on it again. My hands have been flaring and my upper back has been in all sorts of distress. There wasn’t a trigger that I know about for this, which doesn’t make any difference to how I manage the situation anyway.

In the past, I would have been off to see an osteopath or masseuse for help getting the tension out, however these days I am much more inclined to try and help myself before running to practitioners. Feldenkrais is hugely empowering.

For the first few days with this back pain, I was unable to make much progress. My movement and tolerance limits had been so greatly reduced that I felt as though I was working with somebody else’s body. I could barely turn my head to the side without pushing into pain.

The little movements, though, the little efforts, they piled upon one another and added up to pain relief. I feel much better today than I did yesterday. Yesterday I couldn’t even consider typing, thanks to the sparking happening in my fingers. I’ll continue with my efforts today and tomorrow I will feel even better, I am as sure of that as I can be.

Aside from working on improving my pain level, I am also hard at work keeping my anxiety and stress level at bay. So far, I’m pretty impressed with how I am doing. My life is in a kind of limbo at the moment, things are changing and I am alone a lot more than usual. I have been dreading this transition period, however I’m not as stressed as I was expecting.

I don’t want this period of transition to be wasted time. Our society places a great deal of value on being productive and like many people, I can start to feel pretty awful if I feel like I’m useless and not contributing to the world in any way. I’m working on breaking down this conditioned way of thinking, because I don’t believe it’s conducive to a peaceful existence, but this is a big shift that will take many steps.

One of which, for me, is acknowledging and enjoying the fact that if I successfully lower my pain level, or simply manage my day, then I am being productive and can let go of “bludger’s guilt” (OK, I made that up, but it works).

Another step, for me, at the moment, is to stop thinking of this transitional period as a scary or bad thing. It’s just change. I don’t want to be somebody who lets change stir up enough fear that the fear begins to dictate my behaviour. Life never stops changing, I don’t want to let that inescapable fact make my decisions and control my mood.

Life is gonna be alright.

Love & Early Spring Sunshine,

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  • 2 thoughts on “Perpetually A Work In Progress

    1. Jeanne


      I’m sorry you are dealing with such pain. I’m glad that, thanks to your hard work and effort, you’ve found helpful techniques like Feldenkrais that enable you to better manage the pain. (Just think what the pain level would be without Feldenkrais). I know it’s very frustrating to keep “editing & correcting”. Chronic pain is insidious that way.

      You’re quite right that society is just loaded with ideas about productivity. I have found it helpful to re-define what “productive” is for me. My old way of thinking about productivity was causing me to be very stressed out (since I am most definitely physically unable to do much of what I would have put into the “productive” bucket in years past).

      By re-defining what productivity is for me… in my own personal situation… I have been able to make peace with the fact that I am incredibly productive given the medical conditions I have. It may not be productive *as I would have defined it years ago* but if I am making progress – even in baby steps- or if I am “holding my own” (yes, taking care of myself definitely counts!!), then I’m doing OK!

      If I can share my experiences in a way that might even help others in similar situations on top of self-care, all the better.

      I know you help lots and lots of people with your insightful, generous, candid posts and videos. You are obviously working very hard to take care of yourself and manage pain to the best of your ability. The way I see it… you are incredibly productive!! 😉


      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thanks so much, Jeanne! I have been completely wrapped up in the management side of things lately. It’s definitely helping, I have been coping with a lot more than I knew I could handle. Just starting to get my communicating chops back, so hopefully will find some more writing inspiration shortly. Sending hugs galore!! xoxo

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