My body gives out on me, on a semi-regular basis. I’m “chugging right along” just going about my regular business in my hyper-focused way… my mind frolicking through veritable fields of fascination and whimsy… spending hours up on hours on maintaining a Single Point Of Focus to whatever needs my attention at the time.
And it’s all going great. I’m in a groove. I’m really making progress.
Then my body gives out. I’ve overdone it. Again. I’m in such pain, I can barely move. I can’t do the things I normally do, because the usual movements turn my joints and muscles and connective tissues to glowing embers of white-hot coals. I can’t sleep well. I can’t think clearly. The routines I rely on to maintain homeostasis in my life and keep an even emotional keel… they all fly out the window. And I’m cast adrift in the proverbial sea, without sails, without rudder, without anchor.
All I can do, is recover. Watch what I eat. Drink more water. Cut out the sugar and other things I’d been eating which are Just Not Good. Be gentle to my body. Rest and release and do what I can to strengthen the parts of me that got weak during my spate of hyperfocused singular attention and activity. Stop doing the things that cause me pain (much of the most important things I normally do), and wait it out, while making minor adjustments to my physical experience.
New exercises. New movements. Or just no exercise or movement at all.
This started about 30 years ago, when I was out of college, was working full-time, sitting at desks all day, and not in a very happy life situation. I had a few car accidents in the course of a year’s time. They were “just” fender-benders, but they really messed me up. And the pain started. Crippling pain. Agonizing. Unavoidable. Inexplicable. And everything the doctors told me to do (especially avoid exercise), just made things worse.
I managed to extract myself from that prison of pain over the course of about 5 years. It took a little longer before I was essentially pain-free. But every now and then, it comes back. I injure myself and I don’t heal properly. Or the repetitive motion (combined with very little movement) takes a toll. And I end up back where I was 30 years ago: incapacitated, and unable to explain or excuse myself to anyone who doesn’t know what it’s like to go through these pain-recovery cycles.
I’m smack dab in the middle of one of these recovery cycles, right now. I’ve had varying degrees of back and shoulder pain, over the past several years. It comes and goes, depending on how (and how much) I’m moving. Sometimes I have a flare-up that’s obviously related to excess — a whole lot of new physical activity, a lot of pushing and pulling heavy weights, different kinds of movement that are very different from my usual movements. Other times, I’ll be wracked with pain for no apparent reason, and nothing seems to alleviate it, other than rest… which cuts into my exercise routines and weakens me even more, on down the line.
I know what did it, this time. Snow. Lots of it. Multiple storms. Lots of snowblower activity. Pushing and pulling and lifting and throwing. Plus, scoliosis. That makes everything worse.
Of course, it doesn’t help that my preferred state is one of absolute stillness of body, while my mind ranges freely through conceptual territory it loves to explore. I can sit for hours… motionless, rapt, totally absorbed in what’s right in front of me… blissed out with all the mental exercise I’m getting. The lack of movement really brings the pain, when I start to move again. And it can last for days.
Of course, typically, it doesn’t set in until I’m days or weeks into a “reverie”. And then it takes 2 – 3 times as long to reverse the painful effects of all that motionless mental activity. If I can reverse them at all.
The thing that gets me most from this, is how my body then keeps me from doing the things my mind wants to do. I can’t sit at a desk and write. I can’t type on my laptop without pain. I can’t do much of anything without discomfort, which is incredibly distracting and keeps me from thinking clearly. At times, I can’t do anything at all, other than just drag my “husk” through my days, discharging my work duties on autopilot and hoping nobody notices how marginal I am. I can only manage the absolute basics.
And that’s just so crushing. Because my mind relies on being able to do much more than the basics. It needs to range in its own territory and get free of the constraints of the mundane / neurotypical world. I can’t be myself. I can’t be Autistic.
Oh, pain indeed.
So, today, I’m taking it easy on myself. I have a light schedule, today, and I have the chance to get a little nap. I’ve got some new exercises / movements I can do that are already helping. But it’s going to be an extended road back. This much I know, from experience.
That being said, it’s time to step away from the keyboard and take care of myself. I have no idea how active I’ll be, here, in the coming days and weeks, but I certainly hope I can muster the strength, energy, and enthusiasm, to keep exploring the things I love to explore.
I’ll need to give a bit of it up… ultimately, my hope is that it’ll come back to me.