This morning I woke up and thought, “Tomorrow is Enbrel day.” This thought no longer scares me, but excites me. As the inflammation continues to reduce in my body, I get this image of myself from the last several years as being like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. Mr. Burns is a frail, old man who struggles with basic physical tasks like crushing a paper cup or receiving a hug. When Wednesday comes around, I like thinking that tomorrow will be the day that I get “rejuvenated” and further away from being like Mr. Burns.
How has my life changed in the last six weeks?
• I can put all the dishes away, even those that are up high. (At 5’0 everything is high.)
• I carry full laundry baskets from the basement to our bedroom upstairs.
• I can get dressed and undressed easily.
• I can sit on the floor and get up by myself.
• I can ride my bike.
• I started doing my Pilate’s DVD again. (Here I can feel where some inflammation still resides, but it is not enough that it hurts to keep working out.)
• I can easily walk Izzy two miles each morning.
• I have the energy to try new things in my ESL classroom and even took on another part time job.
• I don’t crawl out of bed.
• I don’t have to nap every day, although if I can, why not? You don’t have to have chronic pain to appreciate the beauty of a good nap, right?
Of course I love all these changes. Who wouldn’t? In six short weeks my physical body has made a 180 degree turn. There are times during the day that I move my body ever so slightly and think, “Wow that was easy.” It reminds me of when my kids were little and every little thing was new to them. Moving without pain feels that way to me now, like everything is new and exciting.
What I am discovering as my physical body improves is that my mental mind has to reset itself into thinking as a physically capable person. You wouldn’t think it would be difficult to adapt to your body feeling well, but just as it takes time to adjust to a body with limitations, it takes time for the mind to readjust to the body going in the opposite direction again.
Now that the pain has been removed, my brain is able to think of hundreds of different thoughts and feelings that for the last two or more years have been stagnate. I look around our house and see projects that were abandoned years ago and my mind starts figuring out ways to accomplish them. My daughter is coming to me more frequently for hugs, as if deep inside her she knows that now I can give her the full attention that she needs. I feel a new desire to spend time with my husband laughing with him rather than sharing stories of my pain. I am spending more time with my son on his “school work”. I feel myself needing to break old habits that don’t nourish me any longer. These are all wonderful things, but they take time and my mind feels over stimulated.
Living with chronic pain changes your spirit and it takes time for that spirit to readjust and remember who it is. A part of me doesn’t feel like I have the same spirit I had before, which I think is good, but then another part wants to pick up right where I left off. It is difficult to explain. It isn’t that I feel I need to accomplish everything at once, but that my mind is just over stimulated with all the possibilities and I don’t know where to start. I feel that I have to rediscover who I am and what I really want to accomplish in life. This isn’t a bad thing, it is just something that I didn’t think about as dreamed about my physical body returning to its pain free state.