I’m out of patience today. I’ve been having some problems with my neck and back, and after doing a fair amount of online study of anatomy and real-life observation of the pain location and pattern(s) of agony, it seems that I pinched all three major nerves that run down my left arm.
There is the radial nerve, the ulnar nerve, and the median nerve, the last of which I have had problems with before. I’m pretty sure I know how I did it. And if I remember correctly, I’ve done it in the past. Several times. You’d think I’d learn, but sometimes necessity pushes me to do stupid things that I think will help — but don’t.
It happens when I hold the phone between my left ear and my shoulder – or whatever part of my neck and shoulder area is close to my ear. Back in the day (and I’m telling my age), when phones used to have those large, clunky receivers, you could pretty comfortably hold the phone between your ear and shoulder. And I used to do it all the time. But now, with smart phones, that’s just not possible. It’s next to impossible for me to hold the phone to my ear with my shoulder. And yet, somehow, I managed to do it. Not once, but twice in the same day. Oh, what a short memory I can have, at times..
So, a day or so after I last held my smart phone between my ear and shoulder – which I have to admit is kind of a gymnastic feat – the pain started to set in. On top of that, I’ve been doing a fair amount of different kinds of strenuous physical activity with lots of lifting and bending and relying on my back and shoulders (I put my back into my work, as they say, and my neck got left behind). The weather’s been beautiful, so I spent a bunch of time working in my yard, lifting and carrying things, and being more physically active with my arms and shoulders than I have been in a long time.
Long story short, I completely messed up my neck and my shoulder. Oh, pain! Burning, aching pain that comes and goes on its own. I also have a bunch of interconnected muscles which are inflamed — and also shortening as a result of healing from the activity. That pulls everything out of alignment even more. I haven’t actually been able to move my head or my arm in certain directions without sickening pain. Even when I don’t move – especially when I don’t move – the throbbing, sick pain sets in and I feel like I’m going to throw up.
But what else is new? I’ve had this kind of pain in various parts of my body for various reasons for most of my life, so it’s nothing new. But it’s something I need to deal with.
So, for the past 24 hours, that’s what I’ve been doing.
Stretching. Lots of stretching. Anytime I get a chance, in every possible direction, to get these muscles to loosen up. I can’t function like this, sick to my stomach and aching and burning. I have a lot going on, these days. I need to stay hyper-functional, so I’m doing what needs to be done. I’m sitting differently in my car, sitting differently at my desk. Holding my head and neck differently. Stretching, and more stretching.
Happily, I seem to have turned a corner last night, while I was driving home. I had over an hour in the car to stretch my shoulders arms and neck, and although seeing where I was going while turning my head from side to side wasn’t the easiest thing, it was also late at night, so there was very little traffic on the roads. I felt the release at the point where things started to loosen up, and it was so delicious. Excruciating pain, followed by …. nothing. Sweet, sweet nothing. I still have a long way to go with getting over this – in the past it has taken me up to a week to recover fully – but at least I can tell a marked difference between now… and how it was before.
Being in pain shortens my patience. It sharply reduces my tolerance for bullshit, and it makes me a lot less accommodating of foolishness — whether mine or someone else’s. My disaffection extends through a variety of areas. Including political. I haven’t been looking at much political news at all, especially with all the wailing and gnashing of teeth going on over designated chunks of 100 days. I know there’s a significant election on the horizon in the UK, and that the outcome is going to have a global effect, but right now I just don’t have the energy for it.
The same thing goes with a lot of stuff. I have a full and busy life, and lately I’ve had A Lot going on with people in my non-virtual world hosting events and get-together’s and all sorts of other activities which are fun and engaging and give me a greater sense of purpose and belonging, but which still demand a fair amount of energy and attention. My family is going through changes with serious illness and death and all of the adjustments to go along with it, so that is also adding to my overall load.
Opting out of all of these things isn’t really an option for me. People depend on me. And I can’t let them down. Some Aspies can’t lie. Others can’t let details slide. I can’t let other people down. I have to carry through, even if I don’t agree with the merits and value of what they’re doing. It matters to them, and they depend on me, so I have to hang in there through the ups and downs to the bitter (for me, not for them) end. Lucky thing, I mask my pain. Lucky for everyone, I can block it out. Most of the time.
It’s been difficult, lately, though. I also have my own projects which I am pursuing with gusto, which also demand a lot of me. The other projects run by other people are ones I would love to just drop by the wayside and focus on my own stuff. But again — people depend on me, so it’s important that I hang in there. As for my own projects – I have absolutely no intention of opting out of any of them. If anything, I feel like I should be doing more.
But something has to give. What will that be?
Let me see… ah… Drama. Emotional roller coasters. Frivolous pastimes that do nothing to get me in the direction I’m going.
The recent pain has cut down on my willingness (and ability) to tolerate a lot of the emotional dramas that accompany pretty much any kind of human social activity. So, I’ve been ignoring that aspect of these projects. Because I do want to do them. I just don’t have time for the full gamut of human experience — especially the negative, slimy, grimy emotional aspects.
Another thing I’m giving up (which I should probably give up in any case), is the whole expectation and attachment thing: Attachment to outcomes, expectations of specific things happening as a result of what I’m doing, and investment in certain results to the exclusion of all else. I know from plenty of personal experience that expecting certain results from certain actions of mine is often a fruitless, poor use of time. There’s no way I can reasonably expect to anticipate every single factor that needs to be considered. I’m better off not having expectation and not getting invested in specific outcomes, even though I do intend to make certain things happen.
If I let that extra stuff go – which rarely works out anyway – I can actually focus my attention on just doing what I’m doing. At work, there’s a constant emphasis on results, making sure things turn out the way you want them to. And it is draining. Exhausting. Ironically, the outcomes of my work actually match what I intend, as often as not — especially if I don’t have a huge investment and things turning out a certain way. Oh, the irony.
And at the same time, letting go of my vice-grip devotion to things going My Way lets me just get on with the business of doing what needs to be done.
So, while the pain has been, well, a really pain… it’s also forced me to make the kinds of choices I need to be making, anyway.
It’s not pleasant, by any stretch.
But it’s not all bad.
And for that, I’m grateful.