Maybe It's Always About Health

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It's been a different kind of vacation for me. I had it planned out with some major walking included. But, long before the plane took off for sunny California, I was experiencing pain. Too much pain. Pain in my neck and shoulder. More than I wanted and more than I had before. After four doctor's visits and no return calls about scheduling my MRI, I decided I may as well go on my trip as planned. With pain meds in hand, I flew away from the cold weather.

The first part of the trip included a conference my husband was attending. The hunter/gather went out early each morning to bring me a large black coffee, lots of fresh fruit and yogurt. The role of the pampered woman is one I could really get used to. I spent a few hours in the morning stretching, sitting, looking out the window at the beautiful view, allowing my body time to feel better. By noon, I'd be ready to walk along the beach or do some exploring of the area.

Then, the little blisters came. Those tiny bumps decided to add another level of pain to the mix. Shingles? Trying to set aside the frustrated "poor me" attitude, I headed out to find a doctor my insurance company would approve. Three urgent care centers later, I gave up when the last one that was supposed to be OK refused my insurance since the phone number on the back of the card was not answering for approval. Let me just say, I'm not a fan of health insurance companies practicing medicine. The next day, the ER confirmed my diagnosis.

Somewhere along the way, I thought of all the people I work with who are in chronic pain. Not pinched nerve or shingles pain, but all-the-time pain. Remembering them helped me in my perspective.

Wellness is not a static state in which we are either well or sick. It's a continuum, as Travis Johnson, MD, puts it. You may start out trying to lose weight by exercising more and eating less. The weight loss, healthier eating and exercise all play a role in improving wellness. But, what if you pull a muscle and can't walk or run like you were doing for to lose weight? Is your ability to lose weight and improve wellness gone? Many people think it is: poor me, I can't walk, so I may as well give up. Bring on the ice cream!

Everyone starts at their own level of wellness and either ignores it or works to improve it. But when your level of wellness itself is shifted,  it's important to stop the litany of things you can't do, and focus what you can. Reassess your level of wellness, and work to improve it from there. If you pull a leg muscle, you make a list of exercises you can do, and get going on one of them instead of using them as an excuse not to exercise.

When my pain started, I didn't think of this right away. I quickly pulled back from swimming, weight training or walking fast when I knew I would hurt. Now, the focus shifts to: what am I able to do? What can I do to be as healthy as I can be and improve my level of wellness? People who deal with chronic pain and keep on fighting are my inspiration. Many are working to improve their diet, adding yoga or stretching classes to their day. They don't give up because they hurt and start eating bon-bons.
And neither do I!

Thought for the day: Keep on going....don't ever give up on your health!