I've just made a new friend, who also has chronic pain and during a discussion of pain management techniques, I held forth with great confidence and rather alarming (and likely annoying) length about how important it is to 'listen to your body', 'work within your limits', 'save energy for the next day' and I believe that before I stepped off the soapbox, I also exclaimed fervently about how when you set 'attainable goals', you can make each day 'a success' and 'be able to do it all again the next day'.
I'm hypocritical idiot. While I was busy saying all this, I was also very busy doing everything on my list, which included a significant amount of running around, photo editing, messing around with making cool new products for the shop for Valentines Day...
(brief aside: considering how I normally feel that February 14 is a special circle of hell designed exclusively to torment single people - and yes, at some point I'll get all warm and fuzzy towards humanity just like last year, but not yet - the fact that I not only thoroughly enjoyed myself creating the new products, but am seriously considering ordering one or two myself, may qualify as ironic. Just sayin’. And yes, I am aware that sounds like the lamest salespitch ever, but the truth is often dorky)
... writing and in general moving really, really fast and while sucked into the seductive haze of Getting Things Done, I was ignoring the polite messages from my body indicating that perhaps it was taking a beating. It started out occasionally clearing its throat, then asked politely 'if you wouldn't mind, I'd really like some rest now' and when I continued patting it on its head, saying "just one more thing on the list" and upgrading the painkillers so I could ignore the mutterings, it escalated to 'it's really important that you sit and do nothing for a few days, because I'm on the verge of not being able to handle it anymore'. I promised yet again that it just had to hang on a few more hours, while I finished this one last Very Important Thing and that's when I should have heard, but didn't, the howl of outrage 'if you won't listen to what I tell you, bitch, I am going to MAKE you sit still!" And Sunday evening, it did. My right elbow became suddenly unusable and requiring of great quantities of codeine.
And what struck me about this is that after several years of being so wrecked that I was running a continual assessment of strength remaining, pain levels, level of painkillers in body, etc., and therefore was very careful at all times, it's taken remarkably little time to convince me that I am back to "normal". Back to the point where even if I overdid, it would take me only a day of resting to bounce back. Back to where it even if I experienced pain from doing too much, it wouldn't keep me from a certain, minimal level of activity. Able-bodied thinking. Seriously. I forgot how wrecked my body is now, because for the last several months, I've been able to move at an increasingly productive level and as I may have mentioned before, I am totally Delores Herbig, addicted to Getting Things Done. One of the hardest things about the period when I was very wrecked was my inability to do anything but barely keep my life going. Turns out that being useful is as vital to my happiness as are manageable pain levels.
Because that's what it's all about in our world, isn't it? Being useful. Working. Contributing. Not just sitting on your arse receiving that government cheque, eating bonbons and watching soaps. Being a leech. And it is astonishing to me that after having a disability for decades, after spending the last four years becoming accustomed to ever-decreasing levels of ability, that it was a matter of mere weeks before I left all that behind and high on the fumes of completed lists, pushed myself beyond anything that was remotely clever, smugly assuming that it wouldn't happen to me, not again. That there was such a thing as reversing damage. And yet again, I had to learn the lesson of listening to your body, of respecting its messages and to remember that I have a disability.
I'm pretty smart. Except perhaps not.
Anyway, sitting still while inhaling The Big Drugs hasn't been without entertainment, as I discovered the myriad ways in which your right elbow is involved in everything. Take lunch. A smidge problematic, as it generally involves opening the fridge. When I finally tracked down an attendant to do this for me, I had to leave it open until I finished lunch (as the attendant had to be elsewhere). And it was at this time that I could hear my father, all the way from the hereafter, yelling "are you trying to cool down the entire province of Ontario?". Which felt like a visit from him and definitely worth a little elbow pain. I also tried to watch soaps (but skipped the bonbons), which didn't involve my right elbow very much, but was supposedly a source of entertainment. I didn't last very long, but discovered a few things: first, all these people need tranquilizers - they're so dramatic. Second, I'm pretty sure that the actors on the Young and the Restless are contractually obligated to be embalmed, because I swear, they haven't changed since I last attempted to watch that show 20 years ago. And lastly, if at the end of every scene you flip to another, simultaneously broadcast soap on another network, the experience becomes highly entertaining in a completely surreal way. Maybe the huge amount of the painkillers helped with that?