Monday, April 28, 2014

Past the Pain

Sometimes you don't know you are in pain until the pain is gone. The pain just becomes part of your normal. You accept it as the way it is, or it creeps up on you in stages until it is just a companion on your everyday travels. I relearned this lesson recently.

In December I crashed my mountain bike. It wasn't a spectacular crash, I just went down and went down hard. There was no reason for me to crash. I wasn't doing anything extremely technical, quite the contrary, I was cruising along at a good speed on nice flowing single track in the desert. That was I was cruising along until I wasn't, then I was on the ground with the wind knocked out of me and a instant feeling of nausea and dread. I looked at my elbow and saw skin flaps and blood and knew my ride was over. I was so focused on the elbow and the subsequent sutures and the pain in the elbow that at first I didn't notice the other parts of my body that took impact. But there were a few. I was well medicated for a few days which seemed to make me think that I was feeling good. I tried to do a 24 hour run for New Years. It ended up being a shuffle fest with prolonged breaks every 5 miles or so. I gave up on the idea of running and decided to just shuffle a few laps now and then with friends. I still had fun, but I knew my hips and groin were not quite right. 

Funny thing about pain is it seems to be bed buddies with denial. I was able to convince myself when I got home that the stiffness in my pelvis was from driving hours on hours back to Canada. I was able to go with that theory for a few weeks. Then I switched to the difficulty I had whenever I tried to run was from my lack of running. I got frustrated with my lack of fitness so I just tried harder. The fact that I could barely stand up after a run was just that I had let myself go. I fought to run and push through even though my legs felt like they were pushing through cement with each step. Not only was I in denial, I'm also a bit stubborn- okay a lot stubborn and refused to believe that I couldn't fix this myself. On and on this pattern went. 

Finally, I listened and I got a chiropractic adjustment. As soon as I stood up and walked I couldn't believe it. My hips moved freely, which meant my stride was smoother and longer. I went for a run and ran freer and more comfortably since last June. You see my ankle injury was finally to the point I could run without favoring it when I crashed my bike. It wasn't the running that shocked me though, it was the little things. Putting on my pants and standing on one leg I found myself bracing for and concentrating very hard, except now I didn't need to. Standing up from sitting could be done quickly and turning over in bed I didn't have to plan logistically. As an athlete in a race we need to embrace the pain, make friends with the pain and often ignore the pain. Learning when to shut that off and notice the pain is something I need to work on. I could have had an adjustment and had my SI joints in place back in January, BUT no, I let the pain seep in and become a part of my life. 

Its a lesson for life as well. How often do we just accept things the way they are, let the discomfort settle in and become pain that we just live with? It can come on quickly or slowly and just attach itself to us to the point that we don't notice it is there. Not until we do something about it and make the adjustment to rid ourselves of pain do we realize how much it has seeped into us. As soon as we cross the finish line the pain of the effort vanishes. Sometimes it isn't until we remove ourselves from a situation that we realize how much pain there has been. I have found joy in running again. Maybe having some pain now and then lets us truly appreciate the pain free moments. Without having seen the rain, do we really appreciate the sun? 

Find a place inside where there's joy and the joy will burn out the pain. J Campbell

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