It’s been a busy week for this girl! My husband and I moved apartment units from what we called “The Dungeon” (our old unit which was below ground level and rarely received any sunlight) to our new high-rise, which gets TONS of sunlight, has a beautiful panoramic view of the hills, is totally private and faces the sunset. We love our new place … but it’s three flights of stairs to get up here! I was dreading the move because A) I had just mastered climbing just the ONE set of stairs leading out of our old apartment, and B) what if I physically could not handle moving and had to rely on other people the do it? That would make me feel crappy. I was stressed about this all week, and by coincidence I also was having super bad shoulder and neck pain as well.
We picked up our keys to the new place on Thursday, and my neck pain had skyrocketed by then. I decided that if there was any chance of me cleaning, packing and moving over the weekend, I needed to shell out some cash for a professional massage. My back was so stiff and painful that it practically brought me to tears! I couldn’t sleep or event sit still without clawing and fisting at my shoulder muscles (which, by the way, made it much worse). Being in the state I am, I should have addressed the pain right away in its “early” stages, but, being typical Kathy, I let it go until it became unbearable.
My cancer therapist would have a hissy fit if she knew I was undergoing so much pain and not seeking help. “One of the most important things while going through treatment and recovery,” she would tell me, “is pain management.” This includes physical pain AND emotional pain as well. Especially, STRESS. Wasting my precious energy by being in pain will not only delay recovery, it can take a major toll on my health. I was told to do whatever it takes to manage it – pain meds, spa days, massages, acupuncture, harassing the triage nurse – but I should NEVER allow myself in be in pain. When it takes all my energy to take just a teeny step forward, pain can cause me to take five steps back. You get the idea, right?
I’m not sure why I thought that by being out of treatment (for now) I could get away with being without pain management, or why I thought it would be a good idea to do so. I finally went to a swanky spa on Friday and got a fifty minute deep tissue massage. It helped me to relax, but unfortunately my neck and shoulder pain came back in full force 24 hours later. The good news is that I was able to go up and down three flights of stairs for most of moving day! The bad news: my body HATAES me. Even though there is still plenty of work to be done before our move is complete, I have bound myself to the sofa today with a therapy hot-bean-bag thingy on my shoulders, and I promised my body that I will just relax. I will do some Pain Management.
To effectively manage my pain, I knew it was necessary to target all the areas where I was hurting so I could make it better. I took a hot, hot bath (which felt soooo good!) and started to break down in my head all the pain I was experiencing: my neck, my shoulders, my calves from walking up all those stairs, and my quadriceps. Then I started to think about the emotional pain I felt: stress about finishing the move, stress about working too much, stress about not working enough. I dug a little deeper … stress about losing weight, stress about saving money, stress about affording adoption, stress about the idea of not becoming a parent. I shut my eyes and went for the gold: stress about the fact that I can’t get pregnant.
Ding ding ding!! I think I found the root of my pain. Even though my back is killing me, the subject of my infertility forces me to a put a smile on my face and say, “I’m fine!”. That hurts even worse.
I have shoved off dealing with my infertility issues over the last few months, mostly because I don’t want to seem like the bitter bitch when it feels like every woman around me is getting pregnant. I don’t, for a minute, want to come off like a victim or gain sympathy from people. And I would never want to steal the attention away from a happy pregnant woman, especially when pregnancy is one of the most exciting times in a [fertile] woman’s life. For me, giving up the ability to carry a baby was a small price to pay in order to beat cancer and LIVE. But, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t eat me up behind closed doors. And just because I choose to shove it off, doesn’t mean it just goes away. I am starting to realize that even though physical pain can be debilitating, it can be easily managed with some relaxation and pain medicine. Emotional pain, however is much harder to deal with. There’s no medicinal cocktail strong enough to get rid of that kind of hurt. And the longer I ignore it, the worse it gets …
When I went arrived at the spa for my massage last Friday, I went through the usual protocol of updating my personal information and filling out the standard medical form (so I couldn’t sue them if a facial peel went wrong). As I was mindlessly checking boxes on the medical form, the very last question made my heart stop:
“ARE YOU CURRENTLY PREGNANT? Check YES or NO.”
I felt a small sting a pain and disappointment as I read the question over and over again. Thoughts ran through my head like “I’ll never be able to answer ‘YES’ on this form. Sigh.” But I bucked up and decided to be the bigger person. (And checked NO, of course.) I told myself that I can’t avoid these kind of things from happening, and I just need to face them with strength and dignity and move on! I got through my paper work and anxiously waited for my massage. Despite the plushy robe and complimentary foot soak, my neck pain had suddenly gotten worse.
By the time my masseuse was ready for me, my back had stiffened so bad I practically threw myself onto her table. We discussed my problem areas (the physical ones, at least) and I was ready for the massage to begin. Or so I thought. Then she asked me,
“Are you currently pregnant?”
Don’t freak out, I told myself. DON’T. FREAK. OUT.
My poor masseuse must of thought I was a weirdo because instead of answering I just sat there, and I’m pretty sure my eye started twitching.
Pregnant? PREGNANT?? No, I am not pregnant. And I will never BE pregnant, so will you people just stop asking!! Read my paper work! What, do I need it tattooed on my forehead or something? Do I need to wear a special neon paper bracelet so you know I’m apart of the Can’t-Get-Pregnant club? Well EXCUSE me for not being the picture-perfect model of a female our society wants me to be. This is 2012, so don’t judge me lady!! My uterus is just as good as yours!
Ok, clearly this is what I was thinking at her and I didn’t actually say it. And yes, I acknowledge that it was totally over dramatic. I know perfectly well that she is legally obligated to ask me if I’m pregnant or not. I know it’s not the last time I’ll face this question, and I know that it’s not ok to take out my stress on total strangers.
That’s what husbands are for! 🙂
After talking to Alex, he was concerned that I am keeping in my emotional pain and going through it alone. I learned that I can’t just let it eat me up inside, and that I have to address it and give it the attention it deserves. So, this is where I start. Talking about it in secret is one way to deal with it, but I feel like writing about my pain and putting it out there for all to see is not only healthy, but maybe I’ll help some one is going through something similar.
Pain management is not just for people with cancer or an illness, it’s for every one. Every second we waste on being in pain is a second we could have been happy, physically AND emotionally. We cannot get those seconds back, people! Not addressing your innermost pain is like sinking in quick sand. And believe me, it will suck you in until it’s way over your head. So whatever issues you are avoiding, whether it problems at home, at work, with a friend or just yourself, address them! Put things right. The tole it takes on your mind and your soul is not worth having to put a fake smile on your face. Talk to your friends and family, write about it, or get creative.
Stay happy and healthy everyone!! Lots of love!