I can run again. Somehow, because I'm blessed or lucky or whatever, I was paired with a physical therapist who misses nothing. She has found the cause of every problem I've encountered in the past three months, and given me the solution to solve those problems. It's possible that I will love her forever.
When one does not experience pain in a "normal" way, one becomes very judgemental toward people who live with chronic pain. Yes. I'm talking about me. Fortunately, Therapist has guided me through a series of exercises designed by both of us to help me learn to recognize pain naturally. Consequently, I've felt a great deal of it in the past year. More than I wanted to, or wish to experience again. Ever.
However, I've also developed a great deal of empathy for those like my father who live daily with pain. He has done so for most of his life. His journey with the pain of Post-Polio Syndrome began about thirty years ago. I don't know how he does it.
I found myself not wanting to sleep--because sleep was painful physically and emotionally (too many nightmares). And in the morning, I found the pain had worsened to the point that getting out of bed was nauseating. And dressing made me scream (nope, not kidding--my poor, poor family). Coping with the pain sapped me of strength during the day. Simply sitting at my computer to work, or walking to my classroom to accompany was a hideous chore.
I learned that people in pain are not slow or lazy. Yes, movement will help alleviate the pain, but the mental and emotional exhaustion required for that movement is difficult to combat. I learned that I was intolerant on a level I had not known about--and I am humbly repentant today. Any person who has not experienced daily, chronic pain for an extended period of time has no idea what it is like and it would be a very good idea to reserve judgement.
I further learned that pain affects my ability to control my stress levels, panic problems, and overall feelings of wellbeing. I was unable to do the exercises I put in place years ago to help control the dream sequences I went through at night. As a result, I felt myself groping for past coping devices--the unhealthy ones. I wanted to do anything possible to block the pain I was feeling.
Which brings me back to my physical therapist, who added new depth to my current pain and made me want to punch her--except the next day I felt fabulous, so I knew it was working. At this point I still have intermittent pain but it's tolerable, and some of it can be alleviated by massage and stretching.
And I can run again.
I know. I said that all ready. I don't care. I woke up the day after my first run with every muscle aching and barely being able to walk up the stairs...well, barely able to walk. Period. And I didn't care. I understand that pain. It means my muscles are waking up and getting stronger, I will sleep more deeply at night, deal with stress in healthy ways, and become the person I've always been--but whom I've been unable to find for a couple of years.
Also, it's spring. This year I will probably plant things in my garden, and volunteer at our local soup kitchen, and take long walks, and notice everything, because that's what I do.
All this is not to say that I don't still have enormous amounts of crappiness to process. Therapist told me it would be impossible for anyone to go through the things I've experienced in the past two years without feeling it somewhere. I told him I would like to feel it in the Bahamas...preferable for at least two weeks. He didn't laugh. Sometimes Therapist has no sense of humor.