Oh, What a Difference a Day Makes

I realized I haven’t posted here in a very long time–guess that’s one of the problems with having three blogs!  I post every day on Tanka Diary and also Daphne’s Haiku, etc. so I tend to lose track of this one, and quite honestly, this summer has been a rough one health-wise, so that hasn’t helped. First off, I do not recommend having 3 surgeries in the family in just over a month!  The surgeries began when I had sinus surgery, which I am still recovering from and the jury is definitely out as to whether this was successful or not (so far I say not).  Then Chauncey, my 13 yr. old cocker, had to have back surgery, which necessitated several trips off island to Tacoma, and his staying in Tacoma for 2 1/2 days, thanks to emergencies which delayed his surgery. And nearly simultaneously (as in just 12 hours later), Sasha (who will be 16 tomorrow) had surgery to remove a second oral cancer growth.  The surgeries for both Chauncey and Sasha have been extraordinarily successful, reaping better results than predicted, and they are both recovering nicely, but the stress has been considerable.

I am reasonably good in a crisis, but once the crisis is over, I inevitably collapse, and by the end of last week I was definitely someone to be avoided.  My back went out, my headaches have gotten worse, and then there were difficulties with the kitchen cabinets, and the net result was that I fell apart, was snappy and tearful, and definitely was someone to avoid.  For me, the worst was that I knew what I was doing but couldn’t stop it.  My therapist later told me that no one communicates well when they are in pain and that was certainly true.  All my old survival methods came into play, and it was definitely not pretty.  I’m told that the fact that I could recognize my bad behavior was a plus, and I guess that is the case, but I sure would like to have better defense strategies for such situations.

In any case, I apologized to all concerned for my knee-jerk reactions, explaining that my pain levels had escalated out of control.  I am one of those who lives with chronic pain, and much of the time I can set it aside as just a fact of life, but not when it gangs up on me from all sides and jumps up to 8 or 9 on the pain scale.

I spent the weekend in my recliner, barely functioning at all, doing the absolute minimum to keep me and my companions going.  Yesterday was only mildly better, but hey, I’ll take it.  Then this morning dawned as a new day!  My back was significantly better and that made the whole world look better!  I also had more energy than I’ve had for months, and I felt up to doing some gentle yoga.  As I was doing it I also realized that part of my problem might have been related to my going off 5-HTP.  I’d been on mega doses of that for several years, but started cutting back at the beginning of the summer.  I am now not taking it at all, but in looking on the internet, I read enough to realize that I might have low energy as part of the withdrawal from the 5-HTP.  I’m not sure if this is true, but it makes sense since it has now been 2-3 weeks since I last had any and maybe I’m coming out the other side of this.  

But what all this has taught me is that when any of us is sick or hurting, we can react in ways which don’t sit well with others.  I have been doing a lot of work over the last few years to learn better ways to communicate, and according to my therapist, I have made significant progress.  She also pointed out that the progress has happened in spite of my health issues, and I guess I can believe her.  But when things get too far out of control, either pain or energy or stress, I slip back into the patterns developed when I was very young.  So I need to have compassion for myself in this as in other areas.

I also think it was a valuable lesson to apply to others.  I live in fear of most of the world and most people totally intimidate me.  At some level, I’m still that small child who was convinced that whatever I did I would trigger an angry response.  But I need to realize that when someone snaps at me or reacts badly in some way, that it probably has nothing to do with me and that the person could easily be hurting or sick or under stress.  This knowledge may not make the actions feel any better, but at least I can show compassion and not just assume I goofed again.

And so, once again, life’s trials have taught me more about myself and have helped me see where I’ve made progress and where I still need to heal and grow.  I guess that’s what life is about, but at this point, I’m hoping that I don’t get anymore “major” lessons for a bit.  I would like what remains of August to be delightfully dull and uneventful so that I can rest and heal before the start of another school year!

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