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Every stretch is a gift to myself

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I have rheumatoid arthritis in my spine and hips, and sometimes it hurts a lot. At least it spurs me to take action and move towards being healthier.

It really helps when I take a hot bath with epsom salts, put on one of my Chinese medicine patches and then lie on the floor for a while and let my spine unkink. (It's sort funny that work and stress can LITERALLY get me bent out of shape.)

I don't do these things very often, and today I figured out why: I'm terrified that I won't be able to get out of the tub or up from the floor. Yeah, I've almost had to call for help in the past. I live alone now, and I can't imagine having to scream and scream until my neighbours came by…. Oh, the horror of needing help to get out of the tub!

But it hasn't happened yet, and I'm not nearly as disabled as I used to be. I CAN get out of the tub; I just have to do it really slowly, and it hurts.

So I took a very long hot bath, then put on a patch and lay on the floor for an hour. Gradually, my spine unbent. I cried. I breathed into my muscles, tendons and ligaments, felt my ribcage realign, moved my hips, arms, shoulders and let the floor massage me. I let my thoughts flow freely.

I thought about how this Spark journey will take as long as it takes, and no amount of impatience will speed it up.
I thought about how feelings come and go, and while I'm feeling wretched and self-piteous now, I was on fire with optimism two days ago -- and last week I was super depressed and anxious about work, but one good conversation with my boss turned that right around.
I thought about how amazing and supportive and caring all my friends are -- on Spark and in person.
I thought about my friend who is going through a very difficult time (three cases of cancer in her immediate family, and her mom rapidly dying), and how that friend is still beating herself up about not accomplishing as much as she thinks she should. And I decided to cut myself a lot more slack, like I wish she would do for herself. So what if my room stays messy? My shoulder feels like it's being sliced with hot knives, so I probably won't get around to tidying it up. Who the frak cares?
I thought about how I've been craving treats lately, and how that might mean that I need some sweetness in my life. I think I ought to call my mom, tell her I need some of her sweet, kind words.

And this thought keeps running through my mind: every stretch is a gift. Every stretch is a gift I give to myself. With a thought like that, it's no wonder I'm stretching more! I stretch and get to know my body. I learn where the tension lies. Maybe I'll unbend a little.

If I take care of myself every day, give myself what I need, my pain is lessened. I've seen amazing changes from doing that over time. It's just like this Spark journey: baby steps, consistency, perseverance, support…and that's success, right there.

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  • UTMIZ_2000
    I hadn't realized how similar our lives are. I have RA and I live alone. I know my messy house bothers my son, and my daughter wonders if I am depressed, some people think I am just lazy. But the reality of being in pain most of the time and how much that can zap the mental and physical energy from a person are things not everyone will ever know or understand. And I am grateful that not everyone has to endure this.

    I also take note when I pass someone in a wheelchair or hear about someone who has been diagnosed with something I feel is worse than what I have. At those times I thank God I am able to work and still do many of the things I enjoy.

    Thank you for sharing this moment and your thoughts. I am glad you are taking care of yourself.
    3290 days ago
  • CATS_MEOW_0911
    Another wonderful blog! I'm so proud of you for persevering and making changes that ease your R.A.
    3297 days ago
  • no profile photo TIGERLILLYBILL
    That cat picture is so funny.
    3297 days ago
  • CANNIE50
    "If I take care of myself every day, give myself what I need, my pain is lessened" - words to live by, for sure. This statement applies on every level: physical, spiritual, mental. I will be taking these words to heart. Thank you for writing about the terrible pain you are enduring. It is hard to hear about your pain and not be able to help you, but I am thinking of you. I am so glad you have a found a routine that eases some of your suffering. Your blogs are always filled with wisdom and heart and never fail to be thought provoking. Bless you.
    3297 days ago
    Wonderful blog! I like to use the Alexander technique of constructive rest. It is wonderful for letting my back realign itself and release from the tension that pain creates. Here is a link to instructions:


    Best to you,
    3297 days ago
  • no profile photo CD7651842
    I'm sorry that you have to go through so much pain. I like you have reasons to fight for my good health. In 2007 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Follicular Lymphoma. I went through the chemo and as of now I'm still cancer free. I'm doing everything that I can to keep it that way. Plus I'm turning 50 in October, don't want to be like some of those who feel "old" at that age. My son will be 10 in November and I want to be a heathy active Mom for him and a good role model.
    Every morning when I get up I stretch for about 10-15 minutes. It makes me feel AWESOME, ALIVE, AWAKE, and ready for the day.


    emoticon Dale
    3298 days ago
    Great Blog!! I love the pictures, too!

    I can relate to how you're feeling. Last month was tough for me. My injuries still might get better but it's hard to cope sometimes. My ankle was killing me last month and swelling and it's been 9 months since I sprained it.

    Both of us will feel better with less weight to carry around. It's worth it! Maybe reserve a few extra calories each day for a "treat". I've been doing that and that little extra chocolate (not much, mind you) has helped!! LOL!!
    3298 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/3/2011 9:45:10 AM
    This is such a nice blog. It makes me think again about all the times I complain about nothing. I had Bell's Palsy last year and learned to take every day as it comes and be grateful, but a reminder is always good. Thank you! Hang in there!
    3298 days ago
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