9 May 2014, 11:59am

The Weight of the Wait

I’m some weird conjoined twin. If I stand for too long it’s intolerable to my chest which is happy when I’m flat out. But if I’m on my back too long it finds that intolerable.

I think my patience ran out yesterday. Old person body caged me. Hips made walking hard. Energy wore out fast just to carry a book. Had to take a deep breath and brace and then relax into the inevitable twinge or pain that would come with lifting a half empty tea cup. It’s kind of posture training since a slouch is an ouch.

Everything hurt. Which is fine. It is, until it is not. If I stopped every time my body pained I would atrophy, physically and socially. I can partition off signals from my body while monitoring so it doesn’t throw a right hissy fit at me. There’s actionable ache and there’s wait ache. This is a slow-healing wait ache.

Usually pain doesn’t scare me. I could do without the nausea of it. But that is just signal too. I could do without blackouts that I got 6 months ago from the pain spikes. And I do do without them. I can sleep like a normal person again, at least more often 8-10 hours instead of 12 or so.

Funny, back in the 90s, I used to buy tylenol by package of 10 and I’d give some away and still half would expire. Now I buy extra strength ibuprofen by the bottle of 200 and they all go.

Ache is a battered old hat that’s kind of comfortable even if it makes me look shleppy. Yesterday I was in no mood for it. No time. But like the adage for meditation. No time for a half hour sit? In that case, better do an hour.

Wrists hurt. Back crackling. Shoulder popping. Neck with 1/3 of range. Impeding me. We went for a walk anyway. It loosens the limbs, changes the blood, shifts hormones, builds stamina, and wears out but mostly to the good for a 4km round trip. With a stop midway at a picnic table where hubby read to me about cardinals as I fell asleep for a quick nap in the sun.

Since the car accident April 30 there’s a baseline of hurt to be in any position but flat on my back with shallow breaths. Deep breath hurts the airbag-whacked sternum. I try to brush it off. After all, it’s a year since I was “normal” because of frozen shoulder. Most pride was squished. But I was finally better. I liked that better bit. Intellectually I can expect another 2 weeks of this. Bodily, body’s ready to move on.

It’s as if there’s a resilience gauge built in. Some days there’s a full tank. Some days en panne. From what? Is this how people create systems of astrology so there’s a system of sense to hold accountable? What did dreams do? careening around corners of mafioso neighbourhoods and across Sierra Nevada? Or over the topography of hiking boots. It makes as much sense. Or dreaming some other things not remembered.

Recognizing limits is important. I can’t carry an empty plate without chest cramps. Consider binding my breasts because no matter which trussed up bra, they wobble and each wobble pulls the chest tissues. Opening a door hurts enough to wind me or wince me. Any lifting of the arms is “interesting”. But I do it anyway because somehow asking for help irritates more and because there isn’t always help. I like self-reliance. But it means that by mid-afternoon or early evening I’m beat. What to do with myself? All my resources of doing wild and crazy things like standing or sitting upright or leaning over or forward or having a nose itch to scratch have worn me out.

I saw some souvenir sign that said, “doing little things well is practice for being big things well.”

So I’m impatient. It too is just a sensation.

In sitting meditation there was a question of what to do if your leg goes numb? Sit. What if your nose itches? Sit. Reading is my meditation. I have a lot of books but they can overstimulate and I get into overdrove without as much physical outlet to shake out the energy. My brain can do input easier than output in this phase. My usual writing rate is way down. An absorbing phase.

Because I can do bursts, my crashes aren’t visible. People dismiss me as normal because I seem to have a public life. But since the late 90s my chronic pain and chronic fatigue and depression have been cycling around taking turns kicking my butt. They relent for weeks at a time occasionally. Then I can get more done physically in 4 hours than I have in weeks. That wouldn’t be now. Although I feel intellectually normal for me, I know I’m foggier and cloudier. Weather systems of the body impact weather systems of the mind.

In other news, in the EMC in Charles Gordon’s Funny Town column he talks about sitting as the new smoking.

“virtually the entire history of our civilization involves a struggle to allow us to sit more. When farmers produced a surplus of food, it enabled more people to live in towns and cities where they could take jobs that enabled them to sit[…]

Imagine chairs disappearing from people’s living rooms, much as ashtrays did. Imagine the chairs vanishing from the office so hat people who want to sit have to go outside for chair breaks.

Anti-sitting zealots will demand non-sitting zones in public places and at major events (we have already had a preview of this in the recurring debate about lawn chairs at music festivals in the city).

From there it is a short step to sitting-cessation programs, the marketing of stop-sitting aids and a debate about second-hand sitting. We will have to be prepared to deal with the invention of electronic sitting.

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