The day before last, temperatures dropped considerably and the sky clouded up, preventing the bright high-altitude sun from shining through. Yesterday, as I returned home midday from my morning class, I noticed that every part of my body was in pain. When I got home, I curled up in bed and took a nap. A long nap.
When I came to, a few hours later, I was in so much pain that I was unable to move. All I wanted to do was roll over in order to take the weight off my left shoulder – which was in extreme pain – but I was unable to muster the energy to do so. I tried calling out for help, but I couldn’t even do that. (Yes, sometimes the pain gets so bad that I cannot even talk.)
So I laid there, eyes wide open, unable to move and unable to speak. All I could think was I that hoped someone decided to walk into the bedroom right at that moment. I realized that I was not panicking. I knew exactly what was going on, as I have been through this many times before.
Within 5-10 minutes of being awake, I was finally able to move. I rolled over, got out of bed, and went on with my day.
Right before I went to sleep last night, I looked back on my day, and begin to question my feelings about what had happened. Everything felt a little too “matter of fact” to me. Shouldn’t I be more upset about what I happened? Shouldn’t I be scared about this happening again?
I decided to listen to an excellent guided meditation that I often use in order to help me understand my emotional reactions to pain. (It is, in fact, called “Emotional Reactions to Pain” and is available on Break Through Pain – a resource that I highly recommend.)
I followed the cues to label my emotions moment by moment. Every time I’ve done this meditation before, my emotions were very easy to recognize and label: anger, fear, sadness, or helplessness. This time around, I honestly could not feel any emotion – and it wasn’t as if I was blocking my emotions, either.
What the heck is going on? What is wrong with me? Have I become emotionally numb to my pain?
And them, a few minutes towards the end of the meditation, I heard some words that I had never paid attention to before. (Even though I had listened to it hundreds of times, I was always too busy processing all of my emotions that were evoked by the first half of the guided meditation.)
“When there are no reactions to the discomfort, consciously enjoy the restfulness. No emotional reactions means little sense of a suffering self. It means the physical body can be left to its own resources. It knows what to do with pain.”
And with that, I realized that everything was indeed okay.
I rolled over and went to sleep.
I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t scared.
I was at peace…and it felt good, no matter how much pain I was in.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!