What can we learn from constant pain? I'd like to know. Is it patience? Is it tolerance? Is it how to grit your teeth and bear it? I've been in constant pain for 14 years. Hard to believe. They say lack of sleep makes you more creative. I wonder what pain does over time?
When I was 20 I was in the UGA Karate Club - matter of fact I was the student president of the organization. It's still going and is one of the longest running student organizations. Our instructor used to brag that no one had ever been hurt in class. Little did he know that I'd be the first. When the accident first happened, I really was sore but I recovered and didn't think too much of it. I mean, when you practice martial arts for 5 plus hours a week, you're pretty used to being roughed up and black and blue. It was a belt test night and I was finished with my test and serving as a dummy for another guy's test. He threw me hard to the mat to demonstrate his throwing technique. I landed on my upper back and neck...really hard. I remember one of the black belts, Matt, asking me if I was okay and could get up. Then he proceded to tell Stephen that his technique was off and he needed to do the throw again. So again, boom. I fell hard on the mat. The rubber mat and my neck strength saved me from getting a concussion, but what I wound up with that night was something far worse - a straight neck.
You see, the neck is supposed to have a nice curve in it. It's called the lordotic curve. Only for the last 14 years, my curve has been straight. This has caused all sorts of problems, the worst manifesting itself as constant and painful neck and shoulder spasms. Hurts like a mother. I saw the x-ray way back when but didn't know what to do about it. Several different doctors asked me if I'd ever been injured. I told them no. They all tried different things. I've tried physical therapy, massage therapy, stretching and strengthening exercises, and I even had surgery 6 years ago to remove a big bone spur on my right clavicle. But the pain remained. It was only last year when a chiropractor saw a new x-ray - and asked the right type of question - did I realize that I indeed had been injured. I have a new doctor now since the move to Maryland. I went to her and gave her the same schpiel - my shoulders are killing me and I can't even think straight some days because of the pain. She quickly whittled off a referral to a pain management doctor. Um. No. I asked her for a referral to a chiropractor. She hesitated and re-stated her intention to have me visit the pain doctor. I asked again for a chiropractor. She gave me a name and added, "he's ethical." I've had three treatments and let me tell you it hurts. It's not like going to the spa. This poor man is trying to put the curve back in my neck after 14 years of stoic straightness. I'm trying to be patient. I'm trying to grit my teeth for a little while longer to get through the pain. It hurts like hell. Right now, as I type, it hurts. Tonight it will probably wake me up again. I barely sleep through the night because the pain wakes me up. And I blame my forgetfulness on my child. For a while I even thought I might have ADD. Couldn't concentrate, kept forgetting details. All this time, it's lack of sleep and constant, over-arching pain. I try to be positive. I try not to be irritable. But it's hard to do either. So if I'm crabby to you, or you haven't heard from me in a while, you know why! :)