Good morning, everyone ~

Wow! Sixty-five degrees at 2:25a.m. on the 17th day of December!  or ? Or is this just another “is” in a long list of things we need to adjust to? 

Speaking of adjustments, the process of adjusting to changes/challenges can be made a little easier by developing a flow chart — either starting with the challenge and working forward to the present, or starting with the present and working backwards to the source. For example: Working backwards to the source of my current back-pain challenge, my flow chart looks something like this —

Age-related mild osteoporosis. Thus, bones shift, pulling muscles/tendons/ligaments into abnormal alignment; which pinches a wide range of nerves, producing pain. NOTE: this is a normal reaction to the abnormal development (yet, osteoporosis is a natural and normal part of aging; more so for some than others. 

A normal reaction to a normal condition.

Congenital cardiomyopathy. The condition has been well-tolerated up until recently. Throughout life, it has impeded my ability to do strenuous exercises/sports, and has on rare occasion caused spontaneous fainting. My inheritance of this condition is biologically normal. Just as is the inheritance of eye color and other traits passed along the DNA chain of command. 

congenital cardiomyopathy + age-related osteoporosis

= physical pain, decreased stamina/energy

All of which is NORMAL. My lab tests/physical exams/etc. show that I am within normal limits of organ functions — normal, despite the age-related decrease in bone density/muscle placement/nerve compression … and those three areas are reacting in a NORMAL fashion to the challenges being put upon them by the NORMAL progression of living day-to-day.

What we often fail to realize is that seemingly convoluted meaning of “normal”. If you get cut/scratched, it is NORMAL for your body to bleed. If you suffer with a congenital condition of hemophilia, the NORMAL reaction to the injury would be that you don’t stop bleeding. What is normal for each of us depends on that flow chart of how our DNA expresses itself/makes “me” ME. With all the myriad things that others label as “wrong; defect; flaw; problem…”. 

My “normal” is not your “normal”. Nor should it be; otherwise, we might as well be cloned or be robots. 

Where we fail ourselves and others, and where the medical community has been hijacked by the Business Model lies in the misinterpretation of words/terms/phrases/diagnoses.

What we want NORMAL to be is “perfect; no flaws; no challenges; no mistakes; no degeneration or restriction”. When did NORMAL life ever unfold without challenges/adjustments/individuality/uniqueness? 

It is NORMAL for me (and only me, because no one else is exactly like me) to avoid strenuous exercise, due to the limited ability of my heart to work perfectly all the time. Challenge me to a foot-race and you’ve wasted both your and my time/energy. If a bear starts chasing us, you have my permission to leave me at the “bait”. Save yourself!  You have my permission to run forth-n-prosper!

It is NORMAL for me to faint if I try to push my body beyond its ability. It is NORMAL for my muscles to change position as osteoporosis decreases my ability to maintain proper posture. It is NORMAL for nerves to be pinched by muscles that shift/cramp/spasm. 

This is my normal life, folks! I’m in the process of adjusting to all the challenges that my Life Path has brought me to.  I have not conquered nor fully resolved any of them, for that is an end-of-life achievement. Growing old is a privilege. It’s not for sissies, and believe me when I say that I’m not now nor ever have been a “delicate flower” at any age. I cannot fight against the NORMALs that Life has given me to face. I can, however, learn how to better adjust to all the NORMALs that are inevitable.

After three months of dealing with back-pain on an almost continuous basis, I’m happy to report measurable progress in my recovery plan!  Until this past week, I had been “living” primarily in my recliner, only venturing forth on the pain-filled journey to the bathroom and back again. Some of those journeys were merely taxing; some were horrors. “Down time” allows much opportunity for thinking (“cogitating” as my dad would say). Knowing that I have adverse reactions to manufactured steroids, I wondered if perhaps too I could be ultra-sensitive to my own adrenaline/stress hormones (natural steroids). To test my hypothesis, I took a single capsule of 25mg Benadryl, and paid attention to the results. 

Yes!  By reducing the allergic reaction to my natural (normal) steroids, inflammation decreased and my mood/internal dialogue improved. By charting my own flow-chart of how I got from There to Here, I could see more clearly how to better manage my physical/emotional/mental/spiritual pain. My recent blood-panel results are proof that my self-care regimen is working. 

I am again able to sit upright at my desk with very little pain/discomfort, and only intermittent bouts of muscle spasm/cramping. (They are trying to remember their job, bless ’em!) Not for long periods, of course, for muscles have grown weaker from lack of exercise, and cannot adjust to their new positions/textures. Measurable progress, however, remains a blessing! Hallelujah! 

Not yet able to pull those 10-hour days of steady work/activity. Those days may be and likely are behind me. If so, I will adjust. Just for now, it is “good enough” to sit at my desk sometimes … to sleep more often in my own bed and only sometimes in my recliner … to do some gentle Yoga stretches and carry on a conversation without being interrupted by yelps of spontaneous pain. 

Thank you all for those continuous prayers and many offers of help/support! Better than Benadryl!  

Let’s continue that brand of “good medicine” regimen for one another! Not just praying for one another but letting one another know that prayers are being said. Otherwise, it’s very LONE-n-lonely day-to-day we’re living. 

Also, thank you for the prayers for my husband during this difficult time. Poor lamb, he has had his adjustments to make too. 

Another bit of good news to share — we have a new member in our Group. Her name is Susan; she lives in Orlando; she suffers with chronic back pain and is recovering from a second surgery. She has asked that I share her email information with the Group in hope of generating a support network as she faces her personal list of “things to adjust to”. Being so far away, and being in chronic pain, it is nearly impossible for her to attend any of our in-person meetings. Emails know no borders or geographic boundaries and are a way of helping us feel NOT ALONE in the world. I have been in email contact with Susan and have enjoyed one phone session with her thus far. If you feel inclined to get acquainted, here is her contact info:

Which brings up another thing to ponder: “virtual Group sessions”. Who is in favor of this? I am a dinosaur when it involves anything electronic; however, I’m willing to get “baptized” into that congregation (only in the shallow part of the pool, LOL). I know nothing in this particular realm. If someone else is willing to be our i.t. coordinator, that would be fabulous! I do realize that with chronic pain, we can seldom plan in advance, never knowing what any day or hour will hold in store. Just let me know your thoughts/feelings on the matter. Thank you!

In regard to in-person meetings, after the New Year I hope we can resume those. Let me know, please-n-thanks, what is the best day/time for your personal schedule, in regard to a weekly small-group meeting. I will focus on the majority agreement for this. It may be that we hold two small-group meetings — one for the vaccinated and one for the non-vaccinated. (Regardless of personal beliefs/choices, persons in pain remain deserving of pain-management support-group meetings.) SenCen Programs Manager, Nick Hauser, has generously agreed to put our meetings back on the calendar whenever I am ready to do so. We could, for instance, offer a 2-hour session for the non-vaccinated, followed by the remainder of the afternoon being reserved for the vaccinated. I am open for suggestions/ideas about this.

I hope to be able to host small-group sessions here in my home as we have done in the past. Also, to resume private sessions after the New Year. There is no crystal ball that can guarantee anything, of course. Adjustment is like a river — you can never step into the same water twice; and, what is expected usually turns out to be a surprise. (How grateful I am that Life is full of surprises … never boring … flowing forward.) 

Thus far, this week’s mass email has been about GRATITUDE. That adage from my younger (somewhat hippie) days remains a timeless truth: Attitude of Gratitude will get us through much! The word comes to us from the Greek, from the root word “grace”. It’s the “amen” we whisper at the end of our private list of gratitude for such things as food on the table, shoes on our feet, ability to survive some rather dire situations/painful consequences. It is the Spirit of our major holidays, minor celebrations, milestones and baby-steps. It is the secret of how we can step into our right-brain whenever the left-brain is overwhelmed by life’s challenges, brain-file cascade events, fresh shocks, compassion fatigue, simple or complex fears, pain on every level of our being.

We have gratitude. We can take it one step further: cultivate an attitude of gratitude. We just cannot live perpetually/indefinitely in that state of being. Not even the saints throughout history could do so; and there have been those who tried.

No growth without challenges! Our brains need multitudes of varied experiences. Our minds need growth that yields deeper compassion, increased understanding. We need a few challenges along the way! Some big, some small, some mysterious and others so simple we tend to overlook them. The past few years … well, that’s another “dead horse” that does not bear repeating nor beating; yet, even this depth of long-term challenge-of-challenges has taught us much!

The next time you look at yourself in a mirror, tell yourself: “Good job! Thank you!” Then, take note of what else your right-brain observes. We can step into our right-brain realm a thousand-thousand times a day. But, we also need to deal with the left-brain challenges, knowing that we will eventually have something else to tell our reflection, some other “good job” that increases our sense of grace/gratitude. 

As the hours pass and bring a slowly rising level of unseasonal warmth into our shared Friday, may our personal/collective mantra for the week ahead be: “Love, Peace, Kindness”. These three attitudes, to increase our gratitude and to bless ourselves as well as others ~ ’tis the season, eh?

Gentle hugs/much love,