It’s day one of the program. Today is all intro sessions. Intro to physical therapy, occupational therapy, pain management, relaxation, and mindfulness. I seem to be one of the most limited people in the program, but I also seem to know the most about pain and pain management. I had pain, and spent a lot of the day lying on a soft bench with my hand over my eyes while I listened to lectures. And I found that my pain would flare up but then die down again if I just waited. I didn’t have to leave and go be alone, like I am used to doing.
It was an exciting, energizing day. I kind of didn’t want to go home. I wish we were having a pain sleepover. The most pleasant part of today was being around other people my age with chronic pain. Everybody is smart, intelligent, and compassionate. And maybe a little too hard on themselves. I have something in common with these people, I thought. I just wanted to hug everyone. You’re here too!? I kept thinking.
The most unpleasant part of my day was actually when I got home and started to write this post. That’s when the day’s pain hit me. Doing this every day is going to kick my ass–in a good way I hope.
One thing I learned from today: A moderate amount of cussing is scientifically proven to dampen pain. So f*** this f****** pain!
After falling on my hip in a solo seven years ago, I developed chronic pain that slowly became persistent and severe. I gradually lost my ability to do even basic activities: sitting, standing, walking, cooking, cleaning, traveling. Even listening to conversation or being around other people for too long can cause unmanageable pain, so I have pulled away from many people I know and love. My life has changed profoundly as I adapt to disability and loss, amid getting married, switching careers, leaving Brooklyn, and raising a child. I sometimes discover a joy and gratitude that feels unshakeable; and as often, I am consumed by rage and panic. Zen Buddhism, a dedicated partner and friends, and an understanding of pain biology have been crucial supports. After years of failed treatments and no diagnosis, I have a good understanding of what’s happening to me and how to treat it. The result of my self-study is a four-week comprehensive pain treatment program I’m beginning tomorrow at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. It will be a serious challenge but may lead to serious gains. I am scared, excited, hopeful, determined.
Continue reading “Four Weeks at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab”
I have a baby daughter now, and she’s been taking up the time and space that used to go to this blog.
Continue reading “I’m a Dad!”
My wife’s due date is August 3rd. We’re having a girl. And I’m scared.
Continue reading “I’m Going to Be a Dad (in a Few Days)”
I have had a rough time lately. I have had frequent panic attacks, usually centered around pain. Panic attacks like this are a new thing for me, and have been very difficult to get used to. And then, in the midst of having panic attacks, I took a couple vacations that were so painful and scary that they completely overwhelmed my ability to cope. That’s why I haven’t posted in a while.
Continue reading “My Panic Song”
To cure myself of anorexia, I needed a diet plan, one that was clear and structured and that I could convince myself was a normal human diet. That was important, because I knew that as soon as I started eating more, my mind would tell me I’d binged and I’d feel horrible about myself. So I had to find a diet that definitely couldn’t count as a binge.
Continue reading “My Eating Disorder: Part 3 (still Montana)”
Walking to class one afternoon in high school, I found a giant butterfly crawling around on the sidewalk. I don’t remember what kind it was, but it was striking and colorful. It seemed disoriented, and I worried that another student might come by and step on it.
Continue reading “Hold it gently”
Before I became disabled, I’d had a limited experience with disabled people. I’d never seen a disabled person in a position of authority. My family wasn’t disabled. My friends weren’t disabled. I’d never met a disabled teacher, scout leader, parent, or mentor. I don’t think I’d ever even read a book with a disabled main character. So, understandably, becoming disabled was terrifying. As far as I could tell, my life was over.
Continue reading “My Struggle With Ableism”
A few years ago, I had a couple weeks of intense back pain. No matter what I did, it wouldn’t go away. I convinced myself that it was a sign of something terrible, a cancer beneath my sacrum. It was terrifying. The fear lasted for a week and a half, until I read something in The Power of Now about accepting your nonacceptance. That was a new idea for me, to stop trying to accept the pain and just accept that I was resisting it.
Continue reading “Fear”