We used to have a goldfish named Blaze.  One day Blaze got sick – she would go to the top of the tank, then sink to the bottom, then go right back up again.

I remember being on the phone with my closest friend, Donna, and saying “Oh my God, she’s up, she’s down, oooops, there she goes again.  Donna – she’s not moving.  Ooops, she’s back at the top of the tank again.” I went on like this for over a half an hour – probably much longer.

As I think about this, I think of how my clients often can’t keep up with their own feelings. I was talking to someone the other day struggling with chronic back pain – in the course of a half hour conversation, she simply couldn’t find a comfortable “seat” for herself.  And she couldn’t figure out what to do to get the pain ease up.

Once things eased for a few minutes I asked her what had changed.  She couldn’t really tell what she’d done or why things had changed.  Till, she moved again and then something else shifted.

It can feel like you can hardly keep up with your own feelings – like as soon as you figure out what makes something better, something else starts hurting again or the original pain returns.

What’s a person to do?

I don’t have a crystal ball or a magic pill here.  And I really wish I had a pat answer for this.  But, there just isn’t one. It’s all in the way you look at things in the moment – and in the next moment.

My personal mantra for the day is patience. I’m in the final stages of solving the technological issues of my new book Patient Power. It has had its fair share of ups and downs in terms of getting the material created in a way that is very user friendly.  It’s been a roller coaster much like it is for people who don’t feel good and are trying to find the way to deal with their pain.    In short, it’s been a real labor of love.

I’m willing to wait until the technological issues are resolved.  I’m willing to be patient and ask for help.  It goes directly against my inherent tendency to want to figure this thing out fast.  All my efforts at pushing through quickly have failed.

So, I’m trying another approach commonly known as “slow and steady wins the race.”  It is very analogous to dealing with pain or discomfort.  Taking it slower, gathering information carefully and then figuring out what’s next work very well when you’re dealing with something like diabetes or chronic  back pain.  True – we’d like to not have those issues at all but when they are there, it’s unlikely that there truly is a quick fix for them.

What’s your approach when you don’t feel well?  What helps?  What’s your instinctual response?  What do you do when someone you love is under the weather?  What have you found helpful?  Please feel free to share your story here.

2 Responses to “Case Study From Back Pain to Diabetes Management: Slow and Steady Wins The Race”

  1. Laura Hegfield Says:

    Hi Char,
    I have MS and Crohn’s disease…and have lived with chronic pain for many years. One thing that works well for me is to breathe into the pain/discomfort and explore the sensations with curiosity. If I watch the sensations and try to describe them to myself with very simple words, like “hot, cold, stabbing, achy”…the words gradually begin to shift to “red, blue, sharp, buzzy”, words that are somehow less “charged”. By doing this, I find the fear eases up…when the fear eases up the muscles relax…when the muscles relax, the pain begins to subside or at least my perception shifts so that it is more tolerable. (This seems to work for neuropathic pain as well) Basically, this is mindfulness. It doesn’t always take away all the pain/discomfort, and I still use medication as prescribed by my doctors as needed…but this technique always helps to at least soften the pain. Meditation instead of or along with medication – kind of like Mary Poppins’ spoon full of sugar. I hope this is helpful to others. I have taught this technique to my daughters when they are faced with intense pain (or any kind of anxiety)…Curiosity trumps fear.

    gentle steps,
    Laura

  2. Char Says:

    Hi Laura:

    What a beautiful way to transform pain into something less charged as you say.

    I love that you’ve taught that to your girls as well. I applaud you for finding a way that works for you to deal with this – and I hear it’s an ongoing process and one that works with medication sometimes too.

    You’re finding what works for you and I’m very happy that you’re taking good care of yourself by doing this.

    Keep on keepin’ on!!!!

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