Dealing with the disconnect between being "healthy" and "pain-free"

The end of an era

I battled chronic pelvic pain for years.  And then, the journey came to an end.  I’d fought hard enough, I’d worked tirelessly enough, and I’d found my physical therapist Sandy.  Sandy restored my hope, self-confidence, and my belief that I actually could be normal someday.  I’d had regularly scheduled appointments for the past 16 months, but I was finally doing OK. 

So, when Sandy asked me one day when I wanted to come in for my next visit, I said that I didn’t need to schedule an appointment yet. Without planning it, I announced my transition into as-needed physical therapy.  As of that moment, I wasn’t scared to “launch” into independence, and I knew she’d be there when I needed her.  (More about that here!).  So, much to my surprise (and probably hers too), I said that I’d call her if I needed her.

Next chapter: Health

I walked out the door of the clinic that day proud and nervous.  Was I really better?  She assured me that I was.  My doctor and husband and family and girlfriends assured me that I was.  So, I figured I’d take this “healthy” thing for a spin.

If health is a state of existing in perfect comfort and contentment, it was short lived.

Next chapter: Health*

*Being normal means having some normal health issues. 

I was not prepared for this – and not because of any shortcoming in my providers, but because all of everyone’s efforts the previous 8 years had been on convincing me that I could actually be healthy someday!  We hadn’t gotten to what it means to be healthy.  And, honestly, if someone tried to tell me that health came with an asterisk (*some aches and pains are normal), I would’ve thought they were just starting to doubt their assurances that I would one day enjoy health.  I would’ve heard: “You can be healthy someday – just not healthy like everyone else.”  Because I didn’t remember what normal felt like; I only knew excruciating pain.

So… what happened? A pain flare?  Not quite…

Feeling brave and strong, I decided to install some hooks in my closet.  Stepping down from my stepstool to admire my work, I looked up at the hooks… and they came flying out of the wall, loaded with the weight of my purses.  The wooden base of the hooks landed on my toe and, of course, broke it.  Off I went to urgent care, and out I marched with a boot on my foot. 

That was only the beginning.

Next chapter: Health**

**Being normal also means that things happen at random times, for random reasons, and that they sometimes compile on other issues.

A few months ago, my sweet dog Crosby hurt his back.  After taking him to the vet and being ordered to put him on crate-rest, I tucked him into his crate and curled up on the hardwood floor next to him.  With my arm extended into his cage to rub his belly, I dozed off.  Two hours later, I awoke with an excruciating pain in my shoulder.  After weathering it and knocking back painkillers for two days, I was back in my physical therapist’s office for help.

Before my shoulder healed (it took a few weeks), my period came… with all of its glorious, attendant symptoms.  My shoulder and abdomen now ached, though not in unison (because, of course), all while I was trying to nurse Crosby back to health.  I was irritated and exhausted, and I spent a few days in bed with a pillow over my head.

What felt like a personal vendetta from the universe was really just my body being normal. (Be warned, though, that had someone tried to tell me this at the time, I would've thrown my can of La Croix at them.)

Next chapter: Health

Here’s the thing: being healthy is awesome. I’m doing a fitness challenge right now that entails: 2 HIIT, 2 barre, and 1 yoga class each week.  I hang upside down in the aerial yoga hammock, do jumping jacks, bounce around until I feel like I’m going to puke, and lift weights until my triceps shake.  I don’t think about my pain, or last month’s bad period, or that broken toe two years ago.  Instead, I think about not puking, or how I’m thirsty, or how my ponytail is coming undone.  Am I deliriously happy in that moment? Hell no – I’m sweating and exhausted and aching.  Am I aware of how healthy and normal I must be to perform this workout routine? Nope again.  I’m too busy living my life and focusing on the moment (and cursing the 16-oz latte I guzzled on the drive to the gym). 

There, my kind readers, lies the truth about normalcy – we don’t notice it. We just live it.  And that is the fun part.

© 2017 Inspire Santé, NFP