You may be tired of hearing about my sciatica, but I’m learning so much about myself through this experience. And folks have written, thanking me for verbalizing what they’ve experienced with their own chronic pain.
I was so happy to return to work last week, driving to a client’s house, sitting for two hours and then driving home. I iced between activities and continued my regular stretching on my yoga mat. I was even able to sit comfortably through the entire dinner my Dad made on Saturday night. I still had the neuropathy that felt like a hard waterfall down my thigh for the first few moments after standing up, but I felt good. Strong. Stable. I was even going on short walks with Mabel.
On Thursday I went to my favorite gentle yoga class at Desert Song Yoga. My teacher focused the practice on hip and heart openers. It was like she was talking directly to me, “If you have back issues, pay attention, don’t over do it.” She reminded us to engage the tops of the thighs, to reach from the waist, to exhale, then go a little deeper.
And she guided us into a deep hip opener and said, “Use your breath to release any residual stuff that might be stuck.” I was lying on my back, with my knees hugged deep into my chest. I breathed into my right hip and started to cry. “Breathe in and release,” she said, as tears dripped down my face. “It’s OK to let go.”
I was cautious and attentive with each pose and several times I came out of the pose before everyone else, and rested. And most of all, it was so wonderful to be practicing with my community.
After yoga I had a light lunch, then drove an easy three miles to a client’s house. I sat for two and a half hours in a wooden chair and my butt was talking to me on the way home. When I got home I got in bed and laid on my ice, praying.
On Friday, I woke up in tears. It hurt to stand. It hurt to sit. I had that throbbing aching in my butt again.
But I had a client and I had already rescheduled her twice. I cried on the drive to her house and was so grateful that she had forgotten the appointment. I drove home in tears, shifting and lifting myself off the seat, trying to find the least painful position. I spent the day on heat and ice, getting up to walk every fifteen minutes in between. And I cried.
That night I couldn’t find a comfortable position to sleep. I tried lying flat on my back in bed but my legs hurt. I stretched out on the couch but my back hurt. I ended up sleeping in my office on my yoga mat, on my belly with a pillow under me to take the strain off of my back.
Mabel came in around six in the morning. I got back in bed and told Marika how frustrated I was. And I started crying. I cried about everything – the returning pain, the frustration, missing my Mom, how I didn’t want to have to cancel any more clients. And then I was just wailing, with no thoughts attached, just crying out everything, moving the energy, releasing it, letting it go. I was bawling so loudly that Marika had to leave the room. And I cried about that too. But I understood and I let that go, too.
Healing is not linear. Few things are, really. But we think and imagine and expect things to be.
What this sciatica journey is teaching me is that really, everything passes and nothing stays the same and that being able to live THAT is the key to everything.
That this present moment is here for us to enjoy or not, it’s our choice. So yes, even though in the last eight weeks Marika and I haven’t been able to go anywhere fun, we’ve made our own fun. We sing, we play rhyming word games, we play name that tune with the oldies station. And on the days when it is hard to be together, we get grumpy and cranky and we take our own space.
There’s so much to learn in that, too. That we need to be able to be alone with ourselves even when we are together, so that it’s not as hard when we are apart. And that there are some things I can’t do it for her and she can’t do it for me. But that we can still be there for each other, supporting each other as we do our own work.
Now, instead of asking, what can I do for you, I ask, How can I support you? Sometimes it is by making her a tuna melt sandwich, other times by looking up addresses or calculating numbers. And sometimes it is just me being in the same room while she files her weekly unemployment claim.
And when I am feeling hopeless and frustrated, I just need a squeeze of her hand and for her to remind me that it’s not always going to be like this.
And then I can get up from my ice, walk and move in my body and lift my heart, and say Thank You for all that I am learning, even though it hurts.
And as I walk through the discomfort, I feel the new range of motion in my hips and legs and realize that this is also about learning how I support myself. How, for years, my right hip has been tight and unsteady, forcing my left hip to bear more weight. In the same way that my Mac training is so left brained, and my writing and coaching work is so right brained, now, as my right hip gets stronger, there can be ease and flow in my hips and in my work and in my life.
This setback has given me another opportunity to stop and go deeper, to learn even more about how I move and don’t move through my life. And to realize the blessings that have come from this painful experience. And for that, I am vey grateful.
How do you deal with setbacks? Please share by clicking the Comments below!