Fear And Pain

Chronic pain can be a terrible thing. It follows you around everywhere and there is no relief. But the fear of pain can be debilitating as well. And so, I had a pretty crappy time of it this weekend.

If you aren't already aware, I hurt my back in May moving house (click here for the background story) but recently it has been well on the mend. In the past week or so I was even cleared by my physio to start introducing some exercise (other than walking) back in. On Monday night I swam at the pool for 15 minutes pain free.

But on Saturday I seemed to regress. I was walking around quite a bit and I started really feeling twinges in my back. It got worse and worse on Saturday as the day wore on. By evening it still wasn't any better and in the middle of the night it must have woken me up (I was actually dreaming about it as well). I laid there awake, willing it to go away and just hoping that it would. I am usually quite good at taking pain relief medication when I need it, but it was as if I couldn't stomach it, like taking the ibuprofen would mean admitting that my back was actually that sore.

I realize I'm being dramatic, but when you've had an experience with chronic pain (which entailed four years of hard work in physiotherapy), there's no underestimating the fear factor. I just don't want to be back where I was before and any little twinges can often send my mind reeling onto the 'what if' roller coaster.

But lying awake in the darkness, I eventually came to my senses and took some anti-inflammatory pills.

Yesterday things didn't get much better. I ran the week over and over in my head searching for what might have caused the hiccup. I think it was something stupid I did on Friday night. I got home from work, and although I had the house to myself and sole control over the remote, I just couldn't physically make myself get off the couch to do my physio exercises (I usually watch TV while I do them - it's my 'treat'). It was a stupid thing to do. I've made a lot of progress with my back. My hips are looser, due to numerous bouts of hip stretches (see Hips Don't Lie). And Super Physio did say on Monday when I saw her that now was not the time to skip a day of the exercises.

In penance and pain, I did my exercises three times on Sunday. I took a steady stream of ibuprofen. I can only hope that things improve – particularly before we take the 11-hour flight to San Francisco in a week.

I'm just tired of it. I want to stop feeling like an invalid. It was really amazing over the past year when things were improving and I was able to get back into a wider variety of exercise. I miss that feeling of freedom. I feel a little sick to my stomach with fear when I feel the twinges in my back.

But I know things could be worse. Generally I'm healthy and alive, employed, with food to eat and surrounded by lots of lovely people. And the chronic pain from years ago hasn't returned. It's easy to get hysterical about things, but it doesn't help much. So I will try to stay calm and just keep doing my exercises.

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