This is not my most elegant writing, but whatevs, this feels important to say out loud:
I had a truly sobering moment with regards to my chronic pain stuff today.
Context: I’m back at work after a week off due to The Death Cough that’s been going around. I’m honestly only about 70% back in commission (still hacking a lot). I’ve also been dealing with hugely stressful, painful family (of origin) drama. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, I woke up on Sunday morning in a pretty bad pain spike, in the usual spots on my neck, my shoulder, and my back that sometimes get twingey.
I was able to see my chiropractor on Sunday. I get a lot of chiropractic work for my pain (at least once a month, and sometimes more like 3-4 month) because it’s a modality that helps me a lot. My chiropractor is a very funny, charming queer dude in his late 50s. The amazing septuagenarian domme I used to rent in-call space from back when I did pro-switch work recommended him to me a couple years ago. He looks a little bit like David Bowie, if David Bowie was, like, your Older Gay Uncle The Chiropractor. He dresses in all black and calls me “kiddo” and gives me a super duper extra cheap sliding scale ($25/session!) because 1) he knows I am broke, and 2) he knows I work at St. James and he really loves us. “You do such good work, kiddo, but don’t work too hard,” he always says to me, with, no I am not even kidding here, a smile and a wink.
I am really glad that body workers like him exist, is what I am saying.
While getting adjusted on Sunday helped tremendously, my pain levels the past few days have still been really, really high. Sometimes doing a second chiropractic session in a row can help ease things; but sometimes it doesn’t do much of anything, and what I actually need is just more resting/waiting time.
So I called my chiropractor this morning to check in: Hey, I’m still having a lot of pain. Should we schedule another session, or is this a case where I should rest a bit more and call you in a few days if it’s still this acute?
He advised me to wait a little longer, to rest and stretch and use heating pads, to call if I haven’t improved in a few more days. This all feels about right.
And while we were talking, he said something, just off-hand, that BLEW MY DAMN MIND:
“Working on you this weekend was like working on someone who’d very recently been in a car accident — even though you weren’t in an accident. That’s how much tension your body was holding. That’s why it’s taking you longer to recover and get back to a baseline.”
Having a medical professional quantify my pain like this (“[your fibromyalgia pain] is just as bad as recent car accident pain”) is… Oddly comforting. Validating. Legitimizing. And it is also making me confront some pretty deep internalized ableism, and in particular, the way that I am sometimes unfairly hard on myself about my chronic pain.
I just had this Lightning Bolt Moment of “Oh. When I feel this bad, this out of it, this fucking hurty, it’s not because I’m a wimp or I’m making a big deal out of nothing or whatever the fuck else I might tell myself in a self-deprecating moment. I am actually REALLY FUCKING TOUGH to live with the kind of pain that I do, day in, day out. And when it feels especially bad, that is because, duh, IT ACTUALLY IS THAT BAD.”
This might be one of those things that only makes sense to other people with chronic pain or other people with fibro? But seriously, my mind is still reeling from this conversation (in good ways).
Also, what a gift, to have a body worker who sees it and names it and respects it.