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The Pain of Staying the Same

In the fall of 2023, as I was approaching my 52nd birthday, I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’ve had several physical issues and ailments in the past few years, particularly this past year. With each new issue, doctors wanted to operate on this or give me a pill or shot for that but with no definitive answers as to why I’m having the issues in the first place. After several costly medical bills, few answers and even less relief, finally one doctor said, “All roads lead to neurology”. Hmmm, that would be my nervous system. It didn’t take long to realize that there is NO coincidence that my many ailments, etc. are connected to the anxiety issues that I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to resolve for longer than I care to discuss.

So now what? In November, I decided to start both physical therapy and mental health therapy and it has been quite the adventure. Two days per week I’m doing both physical therapy and chiropractor and one day per week, mental health therapy. Just the thought of 5 copays per week for the foreseeable future was enough to freak me out, but I decided, even if I would be financially strapped for a while, a real difference in my health was worth it.

 The diagnoses that I was referred to physical therapy for were a herniated disc (L5), sitting on the S1 nerve root, causing pain, numbness and weakness down my left side and chronic foot and ankle pain from the failed reconstructive surgeries I had 5 years ago. However, when I arrived, the first thing they had to do was an assessment to see what I could and couldn’t do, which agitated the existing issue. In less than 12 hours later, one violent sneeze had me laid up for 3 days with severe back pain and already ready to give up on physical therapy. However, I continued to go and the first 6 to 8 visits were strictly focused on trying to undo the damage so I could have the capacity to work on my complicated list of issues. Dry needling w/ electric stem therapy, cupping, stretching, applying heat and ice and lots of poking a prodding had me biting the pillow, yelling and at times beating on the table and we hadn’t even started doing the work yet. It was exhausting, but looking back now that was the easy part.

Eventually Dr. Chelsea started giving me exercises to do that felt so unreasonable at the time that I would laugh as she demonstrated them. It was both funny and depressing at the same time, particularly as a former dancer and athlete, who used to be able to do any type of exercise or physical challenge with ease. As friends and family asked how it was going week after week, I’d cry laughing as I shared how focusing on my feet on one day, messed up other parts of my body by the next day. There are too many stories to share along those lines, but just this week, she had me doing squats to barely touch a bench before standing back up to strengthen my core, but I told her I couldn’t do that because of my knee pain. She said, “well what’s wrong with you knees?” I shared that I’d always had knee problems, but that’s not what I was there for, so I was trying to avoid making that worse too. She challenged me to try it anyway and after just 3 squats my left knee was popping and in a lot of pain. She lifted my pant leg and asked me to identify the location of the pain to discover that my patella was tilted and out of place. So, we immediately aborted the core strength activity and went back to dry needling and physical manipulation to try to put it back in place. She asked how long I had experienced that specific problem and I told her that it was so long, I can’t remember. She said with a nervous smile… “You are such a complicated case.” I laughed, “Yep, that’s the story of my life.”

Switching gears… as I laid there bearing the pain of the needles deeply penetrating the muscles surrounding my knee, I realized the parallel between how I’ve been managing the physical pain in my life to the emotional pain in my life. My formula for navigating my life has been to find a work around and limit the activities that trigger pain to remain as “functional” as possible to make it through the next day. Isn’t that what many of us do? Well, I am finally at the point that I can’t continue to do that, and I have brought people into my healing process to hold me accountable for making the changes necessary to get UNSTUCK physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I had my mental health therapy appointment the same day and it became a rip the band aid kind of day. After the conversation got a bit heavy, my therapist asked me to take a break and tell her how what we had just discussed made me feel. After a long pause, I gave an answer, but she quickly interrupted me to explain that I didn’t share how I felt, but rather I formed an articulate answer, centered around my thoughts on the issue instead of communicating my actual feelings. Then she pointed out that when she asked the question, she noticed me gulp as if I was swallowing my emotions to avoid letting myself feel what I felt. For the record, hearing that SUCKED… but it was true.

I honestly thought I was someone who always wore my heart on my sleeve (good, bad and ugly). I’ve even been criticized for it over the years, yet in reality I have been conditioned to disconnect from the emotions that matter most and promote real healing, allowing my childhood and not so distant trauma camp out in my body, thus deteriorated my capacity and desire to feel ANYTHING over a long period of time. I have unfortunately settled for internalizing my complex web of emotions, sacrificing my health and the potential for experiencing joy and peace.

Needless to say, there is a lot of work left to do, but I’m committed to the process and will share my progress when I feel it’s safe to do so.

Until then, prayers for a happy and prosperous New Year to you all!

1 Comment

Jun 11

Hello FAMILY member it's your moms niece Frances (Iva Frances) WOW - I am so touched moved and inspired by your writings they are very thought provoking.

I signed up :

I had a fabulous cruise experience with your mom.

Please make a visit to California - you and your mom. You have family here.

Thanks for sharing - sharing is caring.


Hi, thanks for stopping by!

The purpose of this blog is to engage my readers/viewers in thought provoking and action inspiring conversations on various topics that impact our relationships and the world around us. It is not a platform for insults, nor arguments.  Your feedback and questions are always welcome, but unless purposeful to move the conversation along, will not be shared publicly. Thank you in advance for respecting this sacred space.

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