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Friday, November 22, 2013

"Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are." ~Arthur Golden

Two years and five months ago, I had what seemed like a pretty harmless mountain bike wreck. In the time since, I've seen nine different chiropractors, four neurologists, four massage therapists, three traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, two dentists, one orthodontist, six physical therapists, two myofascial release practitioners, one naturopath, one physiatrist, one energy healer, two functional neurologists, one dietitian, two psychologists, one osteopath, one medical intuitive, one spinal surgeon, two pain management docs, three cranial sacral therapists, and several ER docs. I've had bloodwork, MRIs, x-rays, and flouroscopic imaging. I've tried Botox injections, cold laser, ultrasound, a cranial analgesic electrotherapeutic device, hypnosis, brainwave optimization, meditation, EMDR, visceral mobilization, neural therapy, occipital nerve blocks, trigger point injections, medial branch facet blocks, a medical leave from work, cryotherapy, IV therapy, prescription painkillers, dry needling, ARP wave therapy, acupuncture, seventeen different natural supplements, plus some dietary changes. It's been (and still is) quite the ride. So...I'd say it's about time to get my blog on!

It’s 10 am on a Friday in November. I should be at work, but instead I’m sitting at our dining room table, wrapped in a warm blanket, a cup of coffee within arm’s reach and a favorite Wilco album playing quietly in the background. It's dark and rainy this morning (a rarity in the AZ desert) and I'm taking that as a sign from the universe that it's time to stop procrastinating and start writing this blog. The first and only other blog I've kept was in spring 2011 and was titled "these are great days". It served as a journal during my time spent in the stunning Algarve region off the southwest coast of Portugal, where I was "WOOFing" (World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming) at a surf and yoga eco retreat. It was a pretty badass adventure. The theme of the story this time around is a little off kilter, but I think still worth capturing.

To be blunt, I'm in physical pain every waking moment of every day and have been for the better part of the last 2 years and 5 months (more on that later). But even though my fight with chronic pain has permeated virtually every aspect of my life, I still struggle to really identify with it. And I think that's why I've been putting off narrating this story. Who blogs about being in pain? That just sounds annoying. Anyone close to me knows how passionate I am about living and breathing a healthy lifestyle. Whole-foods nutrition, environmental health, exercise, the great outdoors. Those are the things that energize and inspire me (both professionally and personally). I'll be honest though, being in pain isn't energizing or inspiring. It's actually pretty shitty. But I'm trying my hardest to keep this finite chapter of my life in perspective and to maintain a forward-thinking mindset.

Amidst the struggle, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude. I've been so fortunate to have access to world class medical practitioners, resources, and opportunities, along with an incredible group of friends, family, (and even some strangers) behind me. Most importantly, through all of the highs and lows, I've had Craig as the most selfless source of unconditional love and support. On tough days, when I'm struggling to see a light at the end of the tunnel, he not only sees the light but tells me what it looks like and step by step, how we (as a TEAM) are going to get there. While I'm leaning on him (with what sometimes feels like all of my weight), he encourages me to take deep breaths and have a little more self-compassion. He comes to all of my appointments with me, coordinates treatment, and facilitates communication between all of my practitioners. He reminds me over and over again that there IS a day in my future with NO pain, and we're going to look back on this as a mere speed bump. He says, "maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow...but maybe tomorrow." He would never admit this to anyone, but he also makes up songs and dances (because belly laughing is the ultimate cure for tears). Seriously, he deserves an award.

Ultimately, the biggest lesson I've learned (scratch that, still learning) is that chronic pain isn't something that's preventing me from living my life...it's just part of my story...part of the wonderful journey. I know that sharing and reflecting upon this healing process will be an insightful experience for me, and if I'm really lucky, perhaps even someone else.

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