Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bodily Grief

I might ask about this in a few other places, too, but it occurs to me that it seems that a number of people read this blog who might have some insight.

I am in almost constant physical pain, and have been since September. It moves around. For the first several months, it was my lower back, which most of the time felt that it was going to snap in two. Off and on, it's the muscles in my thighs; the pain often wakes me up early in the morning. Once I get up, it dissipates quickly. For the last week it has been my neck and shoulders. I thought that perhaps I had pinched a nerve, but as the week came to an end, I had to acknowledge that it was probably Hebrew: three hours a day, three days a week, sitting in uncomfortable chairs and trying to remain alert to unintelligible lectures. I've been fine for the last couple of days -- except, again, in my sleep. I think I must be dreaming about Hebrew and God only knows what else, as I awaken several times in the night needing to become fully conscious in order to figure out a way to roll over without experiencing agony down my neck and across my shoulders.

Maybe I need to pull out the
Jon Kabat-Zinn books? A chiropractor is out of the question - I have a friend who is a physical therapist and he has communicated way too much about patients of his who had been seriously injured by chiropractors for me to feel positive about that option. The Lovely Daughter thinks I need to find a Chinese medicine practitioner. Yesterday I picked up a flyer advertising a woman who is offering yoga classes in her home, wondering whether she might do private ones in mine - but the classes she officially offers are for young mothers, designed to fit her schedule and theirs, so it's likely that any offhand comments she makes about her own life would more than offset any physical good she might do me.

As I write this, I realize how likely it is that my feeling of being utterly trapped is contributing to the particular pain I experience. Perhaps
Full Catastrophe Living is indeed the place to start. A had always thought of the word "full" in the title as modifying "catastrophe," but maybe it modifies both nouns. Living in the face of full catastrophe? Living fully regardless?


Michelle said...

I had forgotten this part of grief, the grieving with body as well as soul and mind...Pilates might be an alternative option?

Carol said...

Massage? Tai chi? It sounds like a lot of tension and stress-related pains.

Julia said...

I think it's the constant clenching or keeping rigid to avoid more bad news or stupid comments. like "scared stiff" -- it's just the way you hold yourself for a long time. I do go to a chiropractor -- he is affiliated with a hospital so has been approved by MDs. it saved me from horrible, horrible headaches.

Joan Calvin said...

Not anything like yours, of course, but I have sciatica. The level of pain is tied to stress. I manage it with exercise and stretching and meditation.

Can you get a referral to a PT?

I'd echo the other suggestions: anything to relax the body.

And, (I'm sure you already know this) our bodies know before our minds.


Anonymous said...

With similar symptoms, I found myofascial release therapy to be beneficial. Yoga also is a great help, not just the body movements but the centering of the mind and the breath exercises.

Sarah S-D said...

i think i'm with your daughter. i did a year of acupuncture and then acupuncture combined with reiki, the reiki REALLY helped with the persistent stuck stuff, and gave me new lenses for viewing things. the acupuncture was relaxing, but the two together... moved me on lots of levels.

i feel like i want to comment on all your recent posts, but life gives me time for just this short comment on this one. i'll be praying on the others in the meantime.

Anonymous said...

I would add Steven Halpern's Music for Sound Healing --

When I listen regularly, my breathing is deeper and my body more relaxed throughout the day and night.

Also second the energy work -- reiki, healing touch, TARA.

Prayers for you,
Gracie, a lurker

Anonymous said...

i'm a physical therapist, too, and i highly, highly recommend yoga. hatha yoga is usually gentle and healing, a good place to start and continue. i find the class atmosphere healing in itself--though you may have to shop around for a studio you prefer. most yoga studios offer private lessons if you want to just go once, get a few stretches and help moving your body into them so you don't hurt yourself, then take them home and try them out nightly for a week or so.
you may also choose to look into reiki or rolfing, which balance bodily energies in a gentle way. craniosacral is similar.
i think, though, that finding some engagement with your own body and its pain, which i bet you can do through yoga, would ultimately provide you with the most relief. maybe moving on to more passive forms (massage? acupuncture?) once you are there.

i grew up presbyterian and find your blog inspiring--though i am only a few years older than your kids. :)