I have not written over the last few weeks because I have been battling a bit of denial. Yes, I hate to admit that as a life coach I sometimes struggle with denial, but I’m human. I’ve been in denial about being 44 and not 24, that working out without stretching can cause injury, and that constant stress can breed high blood pressure, high cholesterol, struggle with weight lose, and justification for binge eating.
I have been in pain but too scared to admit it. Have any of these things happened to you? Well, the pain of my denial came to a head a couple of weeks ago after I went to my primary care physician for my annual check up (something that before I turned 40 always gladly embraced around my birthday in August but somehow now delay further and further each year). I talked about my hearing loss, my continued struggle to lose weight, and a nerve issue where I felt tingling and numbness down my left arm, shoulder, leg, and foot. She recommended that I see a neurologist to get to the bottom of my pain.
After my visit with the neurologist, she began to panic and told me she thought I was showing symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) or transverse myelitis. I was so scared. Had my stress level gotten so high that my body finally turned on me? I really was scared. After 12 vials of blood, a nerve test, and five MRIs of my brain and spine I was blessed to find out that I did not have MS or transverse myelitis. What I do have, however, is a degenerating spine with herniated discs in the C, T, and L sections. That is what’s causing my pain. I finally got to the root. Now I have to figure out how to “fix” this problem. I visited a pain management doctor and he, of course, wanted me to “manage” my pain by taking high doses of high powered medication and to get shots in my back.
I went to a chiropractor who said “of course the pain management doctor wants to just “manage” your pain and cover it up with medication. Their goal is for you to not FEEL any pain but what are they going to do to eliminate your pain?” Is it okay to just walk around and cover our pain? Do people want us to stop feeling pain? I guess in a sense, no one wants to FEEL pain but how do you ever get a signal that something is wrong? What desire do you have to fix the problem if it’s already covered up?
I had to think about these questions and both courses of treatment. Our lives can also follow those two philosophies as well. Do we want to walk around in pain and get some adjustments or are we just going to manage the pain and never fix the root cause? What do I need to add or eliminate in my life that can help to eliminate my symptoms? Lose weight? More water? Physical Therapy? Yoga and pilates? These are great ideas for my physical health but what about mental health? What do we need to add or eliminate to get to a state of wellness and not just “pain management?” Pain doesn’t just show up in our lives for no reason. It’s a sign that something in our lives needs to change.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Murakami