Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pain = Decisions

I have a riddle for you. There are three frogs on a log. One decides to jump off. How many frogs are left on the log?

Three. Because making a decision and following through on it are two different things.

I had a strange experience today. I got up off the couch without thinking about it. I was up and two steps into where I was going when I suddenly realized I had moved from the couch simply by doing it... No thought at all. No pain at all.

And I realized: I can feel my pain come on the instant I start to move. That unconsciously makes me pause. Then, usually, I'll brace myself for pain, and mentally visualize how I'm going to stand up. I'll first bounce into the couch, using the springs to help lift me. This allows me to push off forward, using my arms and legs to get my weight off the couch. I stay crouched momentarily, throwing myself with enough energy that I almost start to fall, but that momentum then allows me to stand up straight without falling back into the couch. Usually.

This. Is. A. Process.

Today I had a moment where it was without all this thought. I just lifted my body weight from a sitting to standing position and then immediately moved two steps forward... It shocked me. I literally paused, looked back at the couch, and asked myself, "Did I just do that?!" Then my next thought was, "Okay, how crazy is it that this was unusual. Can't most people move without thinking? And it struck me just how much of a process it was for me, and that I'd completely acclimated to it, so much so that it surprised me when I didn't have to.

That is what it means to live with chronic pain. Everything we do requires boat-loads of calculations. Brain fog? Lack of attention? Distracted? Rude? Nope. Try preoccupied...

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