It is Sunday, day 23 of this sciatica journey and it is still too uncomfortable to sit in a chair for any length of time. So I am lying on my back in bed with the ice pack under my right butt cheek. My computer is propped between my belly and my bent knees and I have two pillows tucked under my neck and shoulders so that I can see the screen.
Yes, everything hurts a LOT less than it did a week ago. I am able to stretch my arms above my head without feeling the clenching in my hip. I can bend at the waist and get up and down from a chair with no pain. I can even lie on my back with both knees tucked into my chest and rock.
But I still can’t sit or stand long enough to drive or enjoy a meal, much less work with a client.
I remind myself how big a shift this has all been, emotionally, physically, even spiritually. And that healing takes time. My muscles and tendons, ligaments and nerves were all so bound up, and my femur actually shifted in the hip socket. So it should be no surprise that it’s going to take a while for everything to calm back down.
And that all I can do is what I can do.
I get up to walk and move every 10 to 15 minutes. I can now get on the floor to stretch at least once an hour, doing leg lifts and hip rotators and gentle twists. I am drinking lots of water, taking the homeopathic anti-inflammatory pills and rubbing arnica cream on my butt and thigh several times a day. And I am breathing.
And I practice sitting. Getting into the chair is painless and easy. I remember to relax and breathe and all is fine. And then I feel the pressure on my butt, like I’m sitting on a fresh black and blue mark. I shift to my weight onto my other side but I still can’t find a comfortable position.
Then I think I am being a baby, that I should be able to sit down even if it hurts, and so I stay. And then I have sat too long and my butt is cramping and the fire is racing down my leg and balling up behind my knee and I can’t get into bed on my back fast enough to relieve the pressure.
I lie there, breathing to relax, until finally I can feel my butt loosen and release, even though it still hurts. I breathe deep into the pain to discern if the edges of the pain circle are any smaller than the last time I checked.
I have asked the pain what it wants, what it needs, how it would like to leave my body. I have invited it to tell me more stories, and I have thanked it for all that it has brought me and taught me. But all it says is, Be patient. Be present. And breathe.
Meanwhile, Marika, who is an RN and skeptical of alternative treatments, would like me to go to a “real doctor” to get an epidural for the pain and to find out if something else is going on.
I assume I’ll need an MRI before anyone will give me the epidural, but
I’m thinking, by the time I get an appointment, get an MRI, etc., I’ll probably be sitting and standing with minimal discomfort. (Which needs to be by Friday, because I’m doing another live presentation.) And that the MRI won’t show anything abnormal.
But what if I’m wrong? Should I go for the MRI just to be sure?
This is the same dilemma I had when Laddy was suddenly so sick and they suggested doing an ultrasound to be sure. I chose NOT to have the ultrasound. I didn’t need the confirmation. I knew it was cancer and that it was time.
And I realize that this is another opportunity to trust myself. My gut knows that it is just going to be a longer than usual healing time. That EVERYTHING has been inflamed and moved and stretched and torqued, and it’s going to take some gentle patience for everything to settle back down. I know this. I trust this. Today’s massage is part of that gentle, patient healing.
I think about people who live with chronic pain, and people whose pain is a direct link to serious disease and big big life questions. And I wonder how they do it. And then I think about how we all live with some form of pain, and that we each get to choose how we deal with it.
We can fight it. We can deny it. We can try to tame it. We can run from it or dance with it. We can meet it like a wary stranger or invite it in as a welcomed guest with stories to tell and gifts to share.
Or we can just breathe. And breathe again. And become one with it.
Tuesday update: Yesterday’s massage worked wonders. This morning I was able to sit outside for breakfast with minimal discomfort for 30 minutes before returning to bed to rest. I can walk with no pain and later today, I will get in the car to see if I can drive. Clients are waiting and I am ready!
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