Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Taking Time to Listen

Wow. After being away from the computer for so long, I don’t know where to begin. All this listening and learning I’ve been doing lately. Every day brings new ideas for things to write about. The problem is making the time to write them…and lately, with my messed up shoulder, having the ability to type.

My shoulder seems to be much better today. Thank you for all your prayers and well wishes. I was able to keep up with my email, even though I didn’t answer a lot of them. That would involve typing. But I do appreciate everyone who checked in on me and thank you for your concern. And I do appreciate my guest bloggers, who took up the slack for me while I was recuperating. And I appreciate knowing I can count on my friends to step into the breach should it happen again.

In the end, my solution came from listening—after a long period of not listening, apparently. So much so that I was ready to scream from the non-stop pain on Saturday. Relentless, it was. So I started going through my mind, trying to recall other times I’ve felt this way and how I got past it, and finally I settled on stretching.

Twelve years ago I spent nearly two years dealing with a frozen shoulder until I found a doctor who said, “I know what the problem is!” and within minutes he’d provided me with some stretching exercises that took care of the problem. This was after months and months of x-rays, MRI’s, physical therapy, relaxation therapy, a group class on depression I attended, (but didn’t participate in because I wasn’t depressed, I was in pain, darn it), and several attempts by doctors to prescribe anti-depressants. When I refused them, I was labeled an uncooperative patient and told, “Well, then I don’t know what to do for you.”

Why does it seem that the medical professional’s front line response to something they don’t understand is that you’re the problem and you need anti-depressants?

But I held out, and finally found a doctor who knew what was going on. So since this pain felt similar to that pain I recalled his advice and on Saturday evening went to the Y and did some passive stretching with the nautilus machines. Almost immediately the pain decreased, and by Sunday morning I could type for a few minutes again. I went back to the Y on Monday and did the passive stretching again, and yesterday I was able to type for an hour and a half. I can’t wait to go back and do some more stretching today, and hopefully in a week or so I’ll be back to normal again.

It’s said we have the solution to all our problems or dilemmas within us. All we have to do is stop and listen. I wish I’d done so sooner, but I was too busy resisting. I was too busy keeping busy. If I can’t do this, I’ll do that instead. So I cleaned my office, I cleaned my house, I kept moving because I thought that to stop moving would make it worse and freeze my shoulder up again.

In a sense I was right. The motion kept the pain at bay until a stressful phone call sent me tipping over the edge. My muscles tightened, my nerve got pinched, and I was back to square one.

So that situation needed to be examined as well. Either examined, or given up to God.

I chose to give it up to God, and immediately felt better. Now I have to work on not snatching it back :).

We all have things in our lives we have no control over. My experience these past several weeks has been that to worry and obsess about them does more harm than good. Stress from worry can also keep you from being able to do the things you can do, especially when your body is temporarily being uncooperative. What could have devolved into a downward spiral has now been averted by simply taking the time to listen and do what needed to be done to heal.

But even as I was doing this, I realized that most women don’t have that luxury—to be able to drop everything and focus on healing. Until it’s too late and we have no choice but to see to ourselves or end up disabled or dead.

What’s bothering you today? Is it your back, your head, your knees, your legs, shoulders, neck, hands, heart or elbows? What can you do for yourself today to ease that discomfort? If you don’t know, can you take ten minutes today to focus on your body and listen to what it’s trying to tell you? Can you take another ten minutes tomorrow?

Our bodies are amazing. Designed by God to regenerate and heal all on their own if we but give them the time and space and freedom to do so. Instead we push them and push them, and then wonder why they rebel against us. We feel betrayed, and look for quick fix solutions, most of them external to our bodies. I can’t tell you how tempted I was to just zone out on painkillers and muscle relaxants and go to bed.

But I knew that if I did, I would wake up more stiff and sore than ever, with cotton mouth and a groggy head, and nowhere closer to a solution than I’d been when I opted out. Drugs have their place. Sometimes nothing less will do. But most times, our conditions are not that dire. We just need to slow down and listen.

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