Push Through the Pain

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PHYSICAL WELLNESS – Stay active! As little as 10 minutes of physical activity, three times a day, five days a week meets the guidelines.

Many of us have barriers that must be overcome before we can attend to the physical dimension of wellness. In this instance, I am referring to chronic pain. I happen to one of those lucky people who has had to deal with chronic pain during my life. Living with chronic pain can really hamper a person’s ability to work on the physical dimension of wellness.

I have lived with the pain of a condition called kyphosis, where the natural curvature of my cervical spine curves in the opposite direction than it’s supposed to. This caused cramping spasms in my neck and eventually led to nerve impingement and a four-level spinal fusion over two surgeries.  Other spine problems find me sitting here at 56 years of age, having undergone an additional lumbar spinal fusion and other surgeries with big names for nerve impingement. Those of you who have had a toothache understand nerve pain. It can be excruciating.

Fortunately, I have been employed full-time with the same employer for over 22 years despite these conditions. Lately, it’s been a struggle to build my vacation and sick time up as it seems I am either using time off to be diagnosed, treated or rehabilitated. This summer I jokingly commented, “I don’t take vacations, I take surgeries.” Sad, but true.

I know I have to get my physical dimension back on track or I will not age well. As it stands right now, I go to work, come home and go to bed to put my leg up on pillows to relieve the burning, stabbing, radiating nerve pain. Even though I’m thankful I can make it through a work day, it’s not the life I or my loving husband imagined at this stage of the game.

I suppose I could give up and give in to the pain and let it control my life. However, a couple of years ago, I was reading an article with a quote by Kay Van Norman, owner of Brilliant Aging, who said that many people simply fold when they come up against a major physical challenge like this. When I read that, I could see where I was headed, and I became determined that I was not going to be one of them! So, instead, I got involved in the International Council on Active Aging’s “Changing the Way We Age”® Campaign as a champion for the cause.

To deal with the chronic pain in my leg which has been with me prior to surgery as well as after, I am in the process of making my initial visit to a pain clinic after failing traditional follow-up physical therapy. I’m not a medical person, so I don’t know what this means or what it will entail. To me it is just another step in a forward direction – one of pushing through the pain.

It’s obvious that the physical dimension of wellness has been one I’ve struggled with. As with our senses, if we are lacking in one such as sight, the other senses become stronger. I know the weakness in my physical dimension has led me to become stronger in my spiritual dimension. I believe the dimensions, like the senses, help to balance each other out. My goal is to develop the Seven Dimensions of Wellness in my life to become a more balanced person; one who is becoming refined by age.™

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