When it comes to coping with pain, emotional or physical, you have to allow yourself to heal. Step back from your daily routine and do the things that promote healing. Don’t push yourself too far and don’t try to speed the healing process. That’s just an invitation for frustration, heartache, and lots of band aids.
I am in the process of healing from an incredibly painful neck injury. The problem is, I have no idea how I hurt it. I simply woke up one morning in a heck of a lot of pain, unable to move my neck in the directions it had become so accustomed to moving. Now, I’ve had good old neck cricks before – just like all of us get from time to time. This was completely and utterly nothing like that. I am, by nature, dead set against pain medicine, or any kind of medicine beyond Ibuprofen and Benadryl, if I can avoid it. I suspect that this anti-medication manifesto springs from a childhood with frequent doctor visits, hospital stays, and medications (chronic asthma and frequent bronchitis). I suppose that, somewhere inside, there’s a little girl screaming, “No more doctors! No more medicine!”
However, when my heat pad, ice pack (I alternated), bottle of Ibuprofen and I went to bed that night, I made a promise to God, my cat, and the inner little girl that a doctor somewhere was going to make the pain go away if I awoke the next morning without any relief. I have a fairly high pain threshold (giving birth to three healthy babies will do that for you – to say nothing of a lifetime of being accident prone), but I have to say, this particular pain was excruciating.
Fortunately, the next morning brought a little bit of relief – enough to convince me that I didn’t need to see a doctor. The pain went from being an angry, intense 10 to being an angry, intense 8. Each day since has seen the number descend. Thank you, God. Thank you, Ibuprofen. Thank you, chocolate. Chocolate, of course, makes everything better.
During day 2 of the ordeal, as I sat wondering which side of my neck hurt worse (the side I somehow mysteriously hurt or the side that I’d been bending my head on), I thought of a quote by Dennis Wholey: Suffering forces us to change. We don’t like change and most of the time we fear it and fight it. On occasion, the suffering is so great that we have to give up. We surrender the old and begin anew. Often it is the pain we experience that leads us, not only to a different life, but a richer and more rewarding one.
The days of being in constant pain made me slow down a great deal. It’s hard to imagine, but when you’re in a lot of pain you find it almost impossible to do anything. Sitting and working on websites or writing was painful, so I’d get up and try to find something to do.
It honestly hurt to walk!
I tried to do my favorite pastime (baking and cooking) and, somehow managed to cut myself 3 times in two days. I couldn’t even read – another favorite pastime – because I couldn’t find a way to tilt the book to accompany my head’s tilt without making myself sick. At one point I actually flung an Agatha Christie book.
For a couple of days I couldn’t even drive. I had to have people run errands for me, which I detested. I’d rather be burdened that be a burden, or even just feel like I’m one. Nasty stuff.
However, being the Pollyanna that I am, I slapped on my rose colored glasses and tried to look at things from a positive…. albeit tilted…. view. Sometimes our pain and suffering can bring about good things in our lives, if we allow them to. Whether our pain is physical or emotional, the experience can actually make us stronger.
Have you ever come through something that was so bad that you thought, “Well, if I survived that, I can survive anything!” Those of us who have lost loved ones certainly know the feeling. Very often, great beauty comes from great pain. Just like childbirth!
I was forced to rest more during these days. I, literally, laid in the floor with my cat Alexa one afternoon for two hours. We’d sleep a little, then wake up and play with one of her catnip toys. (I remember thinking that I wish catnip affected me like it does her.) Then we’d sleep a little more. That’s her in the picture above, during one of the sleeping sessions. When it comes to sleeping, she’s all in.
I didn’t run to the store, I didn’t sit at my computer for hours each day… now that I think about it, even my brain seems to have taken a vacation. I honestly can’t remember thinking about very many things other than “Has it been four hours yet????” When I was able to sit down at my computer and work again, I found that my thought flowed like honey. It would appear that the ol’ brain enjoyed her vacation.
When I was able to hop back on the treadmill, the time flew by and I greatly enjoyed every single minute.
If nothing else, pain (and sickness, for that matter) causes everything to look SO much more beautiful after the healing. Sometimes even more so than before healing was necessary.
If you’re currently feeling any sort of pain – emotional, physical, or spiritual – allow yourself to heal. Healing takes time as well as patience. Don’t try to rush things. When we’re hurting, it’s the perfect time to take extra good care of ourselves and do what we know we have to do in order to heal. Think how wonderful you’ll feel on the other side of the valley. Mountain tops are never sweeter than when we’ve just passed through a valley, are they?