Pondering Pain

All last week we at LA Kelley Communications were putting the final touches on the November issue of PEN, which is all about pain management. Ironically, in the middle of editing, I was off to see an orthopedic podiatrist for an extremely painful foot. For months I’ve been getting out of bed, unable to put pressure on my right foot, until I hobbled about enough to finally ease the arch down a bit. For a couple of months I thought it was just “old age,” and overuse from trying to run 6 miles in the morning, when I should be running about 2. The ortho said no; it was a too-tight tendon. Plus, my right leg is a bit shorter than my left! So he will make me orthotics. Take some Aleve®, wear sneakers and stop going about barefoot, and the orthotics will be in soon.

Then this morning…. stabbing back pain. It felt like someone knifed me; it felt like an animal was biting into my back. I had wanted to go on a 70 mile bike ride (to prepare for Save One Life’s Wheels for the World ride in 2 weeks), but it was a no go. A heating pad, more Aleve, and a day on bed rest.

It was a gorgeous day, too. Sunny, clear and the beach coast beckoned. From my bedroom I can see the gorgeous trees swaying, hear birds chirping. It was frustrating to be stuck inside, inactive.

Then I realized this is what our community members go through a lot. Even those on prophy; even those with long-acting factor. The backache could have been a bleed, causing constant aching, then sharp pain. Ice, rest and OTC pain-killers. No activities, even on beautiful days.

Pain can teach us a lot. I reviewed my week; why was I getting a backache? I checked my calendar: I had only done yoga once in the past two weeks! I know from experience I need to do yoga at least four times a week to stave off back spasms. I did a 32-mile bike ride on Friday, feeling great, and took yesterday off, and sat about all day, working on my computer and reading. In fact, I sat for four straight hours. Big mistake. Lastly, I didn’t drink any water. Not a drop. I had tea and Diet Pepsis, both diuretics. Lessons learned… again.

I don’t regret the pain, because it reinforces what I already know I must do to keep it away. It teaches and reminds. It also makes me more compassionate towards others who suffer, like our community with bleeding disorders. Even if just for a day, I get a small dose of what it’s like to be laid up, watching the world go by on a sunny day. It makes you appreciate the good days all the more, and the medicine we have to alleviate bleeds and pain.

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