What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Expectations vs Intentions

Expectation: the act or state of expecting : anticipation: visualization of a future event or state

Intention: a determination to act in a certain way : intend: to direct the mind on : to proceed on (a course)

from Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Down the Rabbit Holecotton tail

Are expectations bad by nature? This sounds like a simple question. But wait, what’s the difference between expectations and intentions? Setting intentions has the sound of a new age exercise but aren’t people supposed to be happier without expectations? My friend and I were quickly going down the rabbit hole with this simple question. I have been thinking on these two ideas and what they have to do with me for awhile now, so I turned to the good old Webster.

Go With the Flow

Our house is taking longer to sell than I’d anticipated. Some days, I feel lucky to wake up beneath our 4 foot sky light and hear nothing but the birds tweeting and the creek gurgling outside. Those are the days that I’m not living “in the state of expecting, or anticipation or visualizing a future moment.” I’m living in the current moment.

The Beauty Is the Journey

Then there’re also the times when I’m disappointed with the journey not going according to my expectations or plan. Let me tell you, I have planned my plans on this one. I’m slowly starting to realize that I’m not happy when I get too wrapped up in visualizing the future event or am living in the state of expecting and anticipating. That’s when I have forgotten that the beauty is in the journey and I’m lost in anticipating.

I Can Only Change Inside My Own Hoola-Hoop

Expectations mean I’m attempting to force my will on other people, places and things. My batting average at controlling people, places or things is low. Ultimately, I can only control what’s inside my own hula-hoop, and that’s a full time job with slow results. My attempts to force or control are coming from a place that feels powerless and scared, a place of fear.

Where My Attention Goes, Grows

Time and time again, the saying where your attention goes, grows proves to be as true as the law of gravity for me. If I’m coming from a place of fear then I get more fear. If I focus my attention on gratitude then I find more to be grateful for.

Not Going With the Flow

It is an elusive but key difference for me to let go of expecting the when and the how that events will happen. When I step back and watch the puzzle pieces fall together in their own time and way, then I’m “proceeding on a course” as the Webster definition above says. Proceeding on a course to me means not trying to force the when or the how.

Expectations Are Premeditated Resentments

I’m creating my own misery when I say my way or the highway with my expectations. I am my own worst enemy! I’m setting myself up for heartbreak and suffering. And then I’m shocked when I’m disappointed time and time again. Quick learner, eh?

Let Go of the When and the Howone way sign

Yet, if I set an intention then I can look at a road map and pick places I’d like to visit. But if I start making campsite reservations, even in my own head, then I’m picking the when and the how because we don’t even own a camper right now!!! And let me tell you… I have made MANY reservations which I have then been so sad to cancel.

You Can’t Force a Flower to Bloom

My friend reminded me that the second and more crucial part of an intention, is that I have to let it go after I set it. It’s like putting the pie in the oven to bake. The best intentions need time to swirl around in space and time before they come into reality.

Patience is Rewarded

Remember that She Ra lunch box that you asked Santa to give you in second grade but didn’t get until you found at the thrift store in college? The universe works in its own mysterious way and we can’t force. When we don’t force the results into reality, then they are usually even more delightful. For me, it’s the waiting that’s the hardest!

Be Here Now

So this is all well and good in theory, but how do I turn my expectation into an intention? Well, I’m going to let the girls add another star to our dream road-trip map and then we’ll go eat some juicy peaches. And I’ll focus on the peach juice running down my chin, not the new star on the map, so that I enjoy this day.

Thank you!Say Thank You

The best way for me to stop pondering the past or the future is noticing what I appreciate in my life right now. The more I focus on being grateful right now, the less I focus on wondering when and how our house will sell.

Kick Back – Now it’s your turn to answer these question below!

What expectations can you change into intentions in your life? Which part is harder for you to let go of, the when or the how? Tell me about a time when you desired something, then forgot about it and then later it came to you in a funny way?

 

Triple Shot Super-Sized Cup of Gratitude

Here’s how I’m getting back into gratitude every day. Try it and you may like it!

  1. Get a nice small notebook or start a new note in a list app on your phone.
  2. Write at the top of the page; I am so grateful and so thankful for/that:
  3. Then list 10 things you’re grateful and thankful for every day. These can be experiences from the past, like the best moments of your life, or small pieces of your present day. List moments that make you feel an overwhelming sense of happiness, joy or gratitude. Use lots of detail so that anyone reading it would be able to understand exactly what, why, when and how. And here’s the kicker, you can’t repeat any of them or include any that lead to feelings of sadness. Just the ones that are pure joy.
  4. Now go back through your list of 10 and read the full sentence out loud; I am so grateful and so thankful that – I slept through the whole night last night!
  5. Take the time to feel the warm fuzzies before you move down the list.
  6. Make a decision to do it every morning!

Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones?

jamies w bear

“The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is in how you use them.” – Unknown

 

Courage Means Being Unsure & Doing It Anyway

Having courage, I am learning, does not mean there is an absence of fear or anxiety. It’s about being unsure and doing it anyway or having the initiative to try something different. It’s about not being too tied to who you think you are, what you think you can do, or how you’ve always done things. I am reminded again and again that those who are willing to step outside of their comfort zone are usually rewarded with new possibilities. Even if the experimental treatment isn’t the miracle cure, or they fall off their bicycle going down the steep hill, people with courage are willing to try anyway because it’s really about the journey. So they get back up, dust themselves off and try again with the newly gathered information.

Go Somewhere You Love & Do Something You Love

I have a lifelong love of camping. Growing up in beautiful places has graced me with a love for the outdoors. As a kid, the trips to the desert to play in the sand and climb on the rocks were the best. After graduating high school, I spent part of a summer living in a small RV in the mountains under the stars. My honeymoon was a month long car camping road trip. So it is no wonder that now as my family and I look to leave our home of 15 years, it was time to go camping again!

Pain and Fatigue Can Color My Vision, If I Allow It

The process of selling our home has been a slow one, a full year of turning a home with two very active young children, a mastiff, and two cats into a clean and decluttered staged home whenever the realtor calls. Suddenly it was hot and time to head to the mountains, suddenly I had the fantasy for a camping trip with my girls. I wavered between delightful visions of cool mountain air, cold clear streams and wildflowers galore and sheer terror of not being able to deal with the physical demands of camping with two girls by myself.

Doubt Working Overtime But Can’t Stop MeFullSizeRender 6

Would my pain shut me down? Would I not be able to keep up with the girls? Could I function outside of my home and routine? I have a hard time sleeping well at home, would it be worse without my own bed? I was lucky to have lots of support and encouragement. My sweetie came to help set us up, my dad and stepmom loaned us their teardrop camper with a very comfortable bed, friends and family joined us for camping. It was such a delight to see that I could do it with help. A delight to watch my daughters fall in love with single track, make friends with the other campers, pick wildflowers and play in the river. A delight to watch the sunset, planets disappear behind the mountains, the moon rise and the rain clouds pass. Not that there weren’t times that my pain and fatigue didn’t enter into the equation.

Courage Has Different Colors

There were mornings that I was slow to get out of bed and the girls were patient with me. There was one very rough night so I opted to bow out of a major activity. That was another lesson in courage, being able to know what was best for myself and pick the alternative that supported myself instead of going with the popular choice. I was lucky that my sister-in-law stepped in to help with the girls so I could rest while they carried on. Before pain and fatigue, I didn’t want to miss any events. I would have stubbornly stuck to the schedule so as not to miss anything. So it took a different type of courage for me to choose to stay at camp to rest up rather than make the big event. And I was rewarded by for it by enjoying a beautiful display of fireworks that night with the whole group.

Courage Is Contagious

My youngest was terrified of outhouses and porta potties. For years now, she refused to even step one toe inside despite how much she “had to go”. After a few days of digging holes and a conversation around the campfire about courage and fears, she decided to brave it and try it out. First with me holding her hand but by the end of the week she was beaming with pride at being able to use the outhouse solo. My older daughter was uncertain on her newly acquired mountain bike, but she was willing to try out single track as well as going up and down hills that at first frightened her. By the end of the trip she was dreaming up her own bike tricks. Watching how they were able to take on their fears with encouragement and move forward was inspiring.

The Journey Is the Destination

Overall, the lesson for me was that I can do anything that I truly desire when I set my mind on it and ask for help along the way. It is still going to be scary at times but that is part of the journey and when I acknowledge the fear and talk about it then I’m less scared. I had thought that being courageous meant that I wouldn’t be scared, but now I’m learning that being courageous means thoughtfully continuing towards my desires knowing that there will be doubts along the way. Courage means that I was able to enjoy ten days in an incredibly beautiful place with my loved ones, despite times whenI was unsure of my limits. And now I feel invincible!!!!

Nothing Stands StillFullSizeRender 8

Every time I question my limits and step outside of my comfort zone, I am rewarded with finding new limits. I may not dance through the encore but I am not resigning my life to watch from the sidelines or be solely defined by my pain or limitations.

 

Where do you see courage in yourself or others?

the present is like a nice bar of chocolate

“There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands.” Richard Bach

 Let’s Go to Crazy Town

I can now see my pain as a gift that helped me to bow out of a lifestyle and a mind set that was destroying me. The stress, physical wear and tear of my life was too much and I was missing out of my girls growing up. By trying to do it all, I was missing out on all of it. But I was a stress junkie and accustomed to always be in a state of racing from one event or crisis to the next that I wasn’t getting it.SONY DSC

Insane in the Membrane

My pain taught me the only place that I am truly at peace is in the present. Now is really all there ever is and as soon as I start worrying about the projections of past regrets or future plans I am stumbling into insanity.   I say insanity because I cannot change the past, nor am I in charge of the future.  When I am in the past or the future, I lose control of the only thing I can truly handle, the present. No matter how bad it ever is, I can always handle the present. The more time I spend in the present, the more at peace I am.  I currently make plans within the existing week, but that’s it. That way, I can think about what planning needs to be done without spiraling out into worry and possible scenarios.

 Magical Fairyland

Why did I have to lay the law down? Well, over the last few years my husband and I started discussing the idea of moving closer to town. We currently live next door to my mom about 15 minutes outside of town in a beautiful custom home that we built ourselves, learning as we went. We have created a beautiful fairyland castle next to a creek with views of mesas and mountains. It’s been so sweet to be next door to my mom during the first years with my girls.  As the girls get bigger, we’ve realized how challenging it is for a family to be out on the mesa and we started dreaming of walking to coffee shops, having play dates within walking distance and trick o treating around the neighborhood. So we began looking at other places to live and fell in love with Flagstaff, Az. Then I had this crazy idea a little over a year ago.

 Bada Bing!

It was my birthday and we were camping in our 1968 Airstream at Colorado National Monument. We had camped with friends for a couple of days prior and then hunkered down with just the 4 of us for one last night so that we could wake up on my birthday on this amazing hunk of red rock with an incredible view of the Book Cliffs.  That night when the girls were playing with glow sticks to ease the pain of the campfire ban, we were explaining what National Monuments and National Parks are all about. My husband and I were talking on and on about what could be seen in Redwoods Nation Park and Crater Lake and Mt. Saint Helens and all the different interesting National Parks in this country.  I woke up in the morning and said, “That’s it! What if we sold the house and pulled the girls out of school and we went to see them before settling in to Flagstaff?????”

Memories From the Back of Our Mindsbig foot

For our honeymoon, we had enjoyed a month camping out of our truck and driving around the Northwest. It was such a magical time to just be exploring, not on anyone’s clock or time schedule. No racing around to get here or there, just playing in the sand, searching out hot springs and eating when we were hungry. It’s our favorite time together as a family, camping and playing outdoors on foot and bikes. What if we did it for longer than the weekend?

Scheming n Dreaming

It was an idea that I haven’t been able to let go of, even if I wanted to. It’s felt so true and free and right for many reasons. That was April and it helped put the fire under my butt to get our house on the market in June. My husband was committed to building a house already and we couldn’t really leave right away and so we’ve been preparing for the last year for the right time that the perfect person will come and fall in love with this magical fairy castle by the creek and all our commitments here will be buttoned up.  So we began studying about campers, towing capacity, dry weight and how camp on a budget. We put up a map in the dining room and started staring all the places we wanted to go and people we wanted to see. A route is emerging. When the time is right, we get to connect the dots!

 Wait For It… Wait For It….

It’s been an incredible lesson in patience and timing and living in the present. Living for almost a full year with a house for sale, wondering when it will all change. I spent some time making myself crazy with various possible scenarios. I am very aware that a single phone call at any time could set in motion the sudden change of our lives.  That awareness has pushed me to really appreciate the friends, community and place that we still are.  I am memorizing it in my DNA because I know that we won’t be here much longer.

She Ra, Controller of Universe, NOT!

There are times that I forget my patience and forget that I can’t force the universe to do things my way. Mostly when I get too heavily planning in the future. Like one of the times that I decided that I could pick the date for our house to sell and when we would begin our trip. What’s the saying, “when we make plans, the universe laughs”? Well the universe had quite a belly chuckle on that one.  Then I was reminded that it’s such a delight when I am patient to see how the pieces of the puzzle fall into place when I get out of the way and let them. I get to enjoy the journey of planning and waiting for the punch line to the funny twist of how the next pieces will come together.

 The Journey is the Gift

And when I am present I am now so grateful to have the problem of my pain, which has given me the gift to go after a really big dream and the gift to enjoy the journey in the present.  I can’t say that I’m not without my questions of how this kind of travel will be physically for me. My activity level is not that of a “normal” person. I still nap every day but I’m excited to see what it’s like to nap under different trees and different stars.  I am curious to find out what changes with my pain with different circumstances. However, before that gift, I have the gift of today and right now.

 

What gifts have you received from your pain?

the day after

cousin it w sunglassesDancing On The Tables

I don’t drink anymore, but I still get hangovers. It’s a hangover from lots of doing. They are from the days that I have used an abundance of energy. Then the next day, it’s time for me to recharge. I have slept a lovely uninterrupted 9 hours but I feel like I was up ‘til 2 dancing on the tables. I may seem normal to all observers however, I feel underwater.

 Blub… Blub… Blub…

It’s a funny combination. I enjoy these days in a funny way because when I am underwater with pain or exhaustion, then my worries and fears are silenced. I am able to live more easily in the present. I don’t really care in the normal way about the past or the future. My ego is drowned out. Now when I’m feeling really good physically and energetically, then that ego has had a double espresso and is ready to write a book.

Dreaming n Scheming

I have been observing my ego intensely lately as my life is in transition and mama bear has been feeling good! Our house is on the market and we’re contemplating a big change, i.e. a family road trip with no predetermined end date followed by moving to a different state. We’re working towards realizing a dream of ours that’s way out of the box. So my ego has been working double time to try to distract me with doubt, fear, worry and such. I was duped by it for a bit around my birthday but now am back in the game.

Into The Danger Zone

So a couple nights ago I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night to find there was a wild hurricane of ego induced panic and fear thoughts racing through my head. It was funny to realize that since I had been strictly rationing the daily airtime my ego gets in my head, it was all in a tizzy. It had to find some way to release that energy and picked the only time it could. When I was asleep. I started my Gratitude Alphabet and was back to sleep in no time.

Now I Know My ABCs

I remembered the Gratitude Alphabet recently after a string of absurdly bad “luck”. Really I was in a place of fear and panic and so I was getting back what I giving. Flat tire, expensive speeding ticket, and sick kid on my birthday getaway. I mean I was really wallowing in self-pity about it all too. The night that I spent hours making trips to the bathroom with the sick kid in my friend/sister’s house, I was laying in bed wondering if I would sleep. I remembered a lovely tool I hadn’t used in a while.

Counting Sheep 

When feeling any form of fear, (sleeplessness, anxious, angry, self pity, sarcasm), I start with A and think of something I am grateful for that starts with A, then B and so on. It’s kind of like counting sheep however, I get this amazing warm fuzzy feeling that’s not so much with the sheep. Anyhow, this is amazing because I’ve found that even if I do it every day, there are always new people, places and experiences to be grateful for, so it’s always changing.

 Thank you!What Ever You Do… Don’t Smile

The lovely side effect is that the more I focus on gratitude the more I find I have to be grateful for. I know it may sound crazy but it’s true. I have a long history of pessimism in my past, but this gratitude thing is really powerful.  It’s like the “Don’t Smile” trick, even if I’m really grumpy, I can’t help but feel better.

Angel Napping In The Sun

Gratitude for simple little victories was a big aha that came from the pain and fatigue. Now I am so grateful for those days that I have energy and the days that pain isn’t my first order of business. On these days, when I feel underwater and I hurt, I feel grateful for the trees turning green outside in the sun and the quiet house and the warm tea and my lovie dog friend who will nap with me.

Take a Deep Breath In

Instead of focusing on the fear of what I can’t do or how I don’t feel, gratitude reminds me to enjoy these days too. When I am slowed down to take a long breath in its ok, because there will be days again when I will breath out my energy in being and doing. I have to inhale before I can exhale again.

How Do I Love Thee Nap? Let Me Count The Ways 

So even if it’s the kind of day that I’m only grateful for breath and life, there is always somewhere to begin.  And if I keep at it, then there are lots of options for my ABCs. Even if it’s; A = A nap, B = Big nap, C = Cozy nap…

crying Uncle… help please!

SONY DSC

Surrounded by Amazon Women

I had always prided myself on being able to take care of myself, even at an early age.  I moved out of the house at 16 to live on my own and finish high school.  Most of that pride came from growing up surrounded with strong and independent women for role models including my mother and her circle of girlfriends, as well as my stepmother and older sister.  Part of it is being American and raised with the culturally idealized individualism that this country was supposedly founded on.

Just Put Your Back into It

Being an overachiever, I took the idea of being strong and independent to the ninth degree.  I missed the nuance that taking care of myself also includes being strong enough to see my own limits.  I have historically tried to muscle my way through those limits with my own muscle.  However, so much of my journey with pain has surrounded the lesson of asking for help when I find those limits.  It’s amazing that every time I ask for help, I get just exactly what I need.  Now that’s not always what I want, but in retrospect it’s always exactly what I do need.

Standing In Plain Sight

When I was searching for someone who understood what I was going through, I found my dad. He also deals daily with the ups and downs of chronic pain.  He has been a guiding light though out this journey, a source of inspiration, and a compatriot to compare medications talk though new angles and newfound tools.  I feel so blessed to have experienced his kindness and humor while not trying to fix me.  It’s amazing how powerful it can be to simply acknowledge a person’s struggle with pain.  Listening without judgment, pity or solutions can be the greatest gift.  It gave me the dignity to own my own struggles and then the victories and growth that followed.

Super Woman?  Not!

My dad has been a great reminder in the importance of asking for help.  Since I was young, he’s taught me approached challenges or problems by looking around to find resources, teaching me that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  However, being the mother of young children I had forgotten to ask for help.  I was delusional for a while thinking that I had to fix everything and answer all calls.  I thought I was supposed to take care of everything.  I thought I was supposed to be a mother to all.  Yes!  I can do it all… Yes!  I am super woman!

Mama Bear

Well eventually I learned a saying, if mama bear ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  Of course, as a stubborn, self-sufficient mother, it took my body literally shutting down before I realized that my body was more than not happy, it was screaming for love, care, nurturing and respect.  I didn’t respect myself enough to eat and sleep well, exercise regularly, manage my stress and well-being.  I was so busy taking care of everyone else, thinking that my health wasn’t that important, that I pushed myself into complete exhaustion. Eventually, my body cried “Uncle”.  I have been slowly reorganized my life ever since so that my well-being is a priority and I take care of myself regularly with the help of many angels in my life.

All By Myself

It’s not something that comes naturally as mothers, we’re so used to responding to the baby and we often forget that we have to be well in order to help that baby.  And as a woman, so many of us are raised with the traditions that value women who are stoic and never ask for help.   Even with all my women’s studies classes in college, I still fall in the crazy thinking that it’s ok or even good for me to take care of it all on my own.

 Enough IS Enough

This pain has taught me that if I go too many nights with interrupted sleep, or try to get all the chores done on my own, then there are repercussions.  Those repercussions include me in bed or in pain for extended periods that could be avoided by asking for help.  I am not super mom and it’s ok for me to let my husband do the nighttime parenting.  It’s usually better even because then he has a new or different experience with the girls.

UNCLE

When I ask for help, then I allow other people to be the expert or to get the warm fuzzies that come with lending a hand.  Because time and time again, when I ask for help, it appears.  I say all this not because I’ve mastered it by any means.  I say this out loud to remember how important it is.

 What Am I Doing?

Here I am World!
Here I am World!

What, you may ask, am I, who is so not a writer, doing blogging?  Well a few years ago my life changed and I have wished that I had found someone who talked honestly about how hard chronic pain and fatigue can be for: a mother of two young children, a small business owner during a recession, a 35 years-young woman surrounded by healthy and fit friends, a well-educated person unable to find real answers.  I have tried many different tools in the pain and fatigue tool box and would like to share my experience and what I have found on this journey, in hopes that it will inspire hope in at least one person to keep looking for your own answers.

All Better Now?

This journey is not over and I am no expert but I can say easily that my life is so much better now that it was 4 years ago.  I am the healthiest, happiest and most real I’ve ever been in my life.  There are still days I don’t want to get out of bed and still days that I hurt, but I am not scared of it anymore!  That’s so big.  I remember being so scared that the pain would last forever and I would get lost in it and never get out.  I felt like a stranger in my own body and it seemed crazy for a well educated feminist woman like myself to not know what to do to help myself.  I took care of everyone else but I didn’t know how to take care of myself.  I didn’t know how to keep it from getting worse and was terrified that I was actually making it worse.  I was even more terrified with the idea that it was all in my mind, not real.

What is Normal?

At first I was pretty sure that this was “normal” for a mother of two young children who was running a retail store during an intense recession.  I was dropping off my daughter for a play date and chatting with the mom when she said no, this didn’t sound right.  I was shocked that she didn’t think what I was describing was normal.  However, as a physical therapist she had the credentials that made me actually listen.  I couldn’t hear my own body screaming but thankfully I heard her.  She felt like an angel, that sent me to the doctor and for help!  My experience with her taught me one of my early lessons in pain, that what I needed would show up at the right time.

It’s All in Your Mind

It was such a relief when I had the nerve mapping testing done, which was the equivalent of getting zapped by electric shock with a wood burning tool from shop class by a cranky old doctor wishing he was on the 9th hole.  The doctor had a horrible bedside manner and I didn’t get any real answers from him but I did catch a couple words he kept repeated under his breath, chronic myofascial pain and fibromyalgia.  I left the office in tears and immediately started googling.  I was blown away how these foreign sounding words produced definitions that sounded eerily familiar to my experience.

Get Some Rest?

Up to this point, I had tests, mri and x-rays and nothing could be found really wrong.  I had finally seen my doctor who kept recommending that I needed to take a break from my stress, a retreat and to get more rest.   But I was resting, I was resting all the time and I was still exhausted and in so much pain.  Pain in my arms, pain in my back and shoulders, headaches.  I had a hard time picking up my one year old because it hurt too much.  I had to sit down and have her crawl in my lap because I couldn’t carry her.  I felt helpless and weak.  I felt confused, scared and foggy so much of the time.

Bitter Medicine

The doctor started me on a fibro specific medication, savella and after adjusting the medication I found that it did help with my energy levels.  The pain mapping had shown that it was muscle pain and that sent me to physical therapy.  It was great to see some light in the tunnel.  I also started seeing an occupational therapist who gently helped me begin to take ownership of my new reality.  However, it was bitter medicine to think about owning, much less accepting my pain.  I felt like there was something missing.  How could I be this person?  I was too young?  I was too busy with my life?  I was taking lots of muscle relaxers to help with the pain.  The side effects of the drugs where confusing and I found that I was so sensitive to all the medications I tried.

A Little of This and That

I was raised by hippies and medical professionals so I have a foot in both the holistic and western medicine worlds.  So discouraged by western medicine, I decided to go see a regional holistic doctor with a great reputation.  She thought maybe Vitamin B deficiency was the cause and gave me ashwaganda and adrenal support supplements.  Her bedside manner was kind and affirming but in the end my B levels were fine and the supplements weren’t making noticeable progress with my pain and fatigue.  I was disillusioned with the holistic approach and wanted to feel better.

Make it stop!

I found some great victories through physical therapy for the arm pain, but the neck pain and headaches would not go away.  I think I have mentioned that I am not so patient.  So I found a regional doctor who specialized in pain and would do a nerve burn.  Great name, eh?  Now I hate needles and I’m the one who goes to the health food store first before going to the doctor, but pain is pain.  I was in so much pain, I actually asked for and paid a lot of money for a man to put 5 needles in my neck.  Once positioned right next to my vertebra, the needles would singe the nerve endings on the hunch of his physicians assistant who thought maybe, yes maybe, these nerves were stuck on a pain feedback loop.  We did a temporary test initially and it was amazing to feel and realize what I was living with every day.  I hadn’t even known that the other side of my neck was in so much pain, until the dominant side was numbed.

Thanks But Not Again!

The results were awesome but the procedure was so intense.  I went in three times, having the test on both sides and then the actual procedure on the dominant side.  After the actual procedure I decided that I never wanted to burn anything again.  I was not going to do that again, but I still didn’t accept pain for the long haul.  On the intake form, they asked what level of pain you are at today and what level you are working towards.  The receptionist asked me if I was really sure that I would work towards zero pain level, annoyed by my expectations I guess.  But I count this as one of my blessings; my continued interest and drive to try new things and keep looking to understand where my pain comes from, what causes it and how I can affect it.

Voodoo Medicine

The nerve burn doctor called fibro, “voodoo medicine” after his own physicans assistant, who did my initial intake, suggested the diagnosis.  It was amazing how different doctors respond so differently to the name and it taught me that I had to keep looking until I found the right doctor who had experience and understanding in dealing with chronic pain.  I was finally lucky to find a good physiatrist who specialized in understanding both the medicines and the physical body AND was a great listener.  She actually believed me when I explained what was going on and what worked and what didn’t.  She prescribed daily cardio exercise and stress reduction while encouraging me to test my boundaries.  However, she also used tough love and held me accountable so as not to be overly dependent on the medications.

Cha Cha Changes

I have made big changes in my life.  I sold my shop and found work that is more flexible and less stressful.  I prioritize making a nap, exercise and meditation part of my daily routine.  I cut sugar, gluten, and caffeine from my diet.  I get regular body work and I buy supplements, which is not cheap but I am worth it.   I now recognize that I have limited energy resources and I am very careful about how I spend it while testing to find new boundaries.  I have a very rich spiritual practice and have so much more gratitude in my daily life.   Mostly I am always working to live with intention and try to not take life too seriously.

Along the Way

I am proud to say that I do have days that are zero pain days.  I still have times that I take the pain pills and muscle relaxers because I still test and push my boundaries regularly.  The journey and the tools that I have picked up along the way have been amazing.  But this is my pain’s coming out story.