Have you ever been in so much pain that it made you physically ill?
That kind of pain that makes you groan when the alarm clock goes off in the morning because it's still there?
That kind of pain that makes you want to take three times the recommended dose of painkillers because you are certain three is better than one and it couldn't possibly destroy your liver if you did it just this once?
That kind of pain that makes you want to rip your hyperactive kid's head off for asking if he can have an iced cinnamon bun for breakfast? (Oh wait. That has nothing to do with the pain. Nevermind.)
I woke up yesterday morning unable to move my left arm. Oh, I could move it, but not without making the left side of my body feel like someone was stabbing me repeatedly in the left shoulder blade with a pair of dull scissors.
Because dull scissors sound so much more painful than regular scissors, right?
The pain radiated out from my shoulder, crept up the back of my head and shot down my arm and leg.
Steve, God bless him, let me stay in bed and brought me the heating pad and some Tylenol. Tylenol, not Advil, because the universe played a very nasty trick on me and made me allergic to ibuprofen. And Lord knows we didn't need to add a nasty case of hives to the mix.
I finally got up, spent a few minutes feeling sorry for myself, then stretched as much as I could and had Steve try to rub out some of the tightness in my neck and shoulder. The more I moved my body, the more it seemed to loosen up. I was able to get some work done throughout the afternoon with only a few reminders of the pain when I turned my head too quickly or reached up to pull something out of a kitchen cupboard. But as soon as we started to settle in for the evening everything tightened up again and I ended up falling asleep on the heating pad. (I know, I know. Not 'sposed to do that.)
This morning I couldn't decide if I wanted to scream or cry. It was a major chore just to wash my hair in the shower. I was not very tolerant of the kids' usual morning madness. I was sick to my stomach. I told myself if I could just hang on for another hour I could get to the chiropractor's office and he would fix me up and all would be right with the world.
So I dropped the kids off at school and headed to see my favorite doc.
But when I got there I was met with a sign on the door: Closed today. Open tomorrow at 8.
This, my friends, was a defining moment. My choices were a) burst into tears, b) find another chiropractor, or c) take a deep breath, move on with my day, and plan to be back at the office at 7:55 tomorrow morning.
I chose C. And instead of being angry with my body for limiting what I could do today, I decided right then and there to make a conscious effort to nurture it to better health. I hate to admit it, but my body isn't rebelling; it is merely reacting to the hell I've put it through all these years, and especially these last few weeks. Sure, I could do much worse - I don't use recreational drugs or drink heavily, and I'm not completely sedentary - but I could do a whole lot better, too.
No, this is not the first time I've had this revelation.
Yes, I do believe I can still make a difference. It's never too late to start taking care of oneself (again).
So I took a few deep breaths, got myself a bite to eat (a breakfast burrito and a frappe from McDonald's, if you must know, and yes, they made me feel much better), and hit the grocery store. It felt good to load my cart with fresh fruits and veggies, good cheese and lean meats, with a promise that I will do my best to treat my body with a little more respect and kindness from this moment forward.
I feel better already.