The proper use of pain

Still not feeling that great, after shipping off the lamprey house-guest yesterday. This is actually the first day I’ve been able to wake up and move at my own pace without stepping over someone… I’m trying to not focus on the fact that I only have two more nights and three days left in my vacation.

Ah, well, so it goes. There were some good things about having the lamprey house-guest around. They helped carry things and were able to do things with me that my spouse could not. Kind of like a playmate. Except that they are expensive, in terms of time and money and energy, and just having them around with their high energy wears me out.

Well, whatever. At least I’m not at my sh*tty job, dealing with politics and all that crap. Seriously, it is good to be away from all that.

So, the sun is up and it’s another gorgeous day. I’ll go out for my morning walk, shortly, to clear my head and get myself in gear. I’m not feeling that great, but I can’t let that stop me from getting on with the day. We’ll head out to the beach in another couple of hours after my spouse wakes up, and then we’ll sleep on the beach.

I’ve been thinking a lot about pain and gain, lately (saw the movie by that same name recently and ended up really depressed afterwards). Thinking about how I can’t wait till I feel 100% to do things. I need to just do them, no matter what. Thinking reasonably about my life, I have maybe an hour or two each day when I am not feeling wiped out and sick. All the rest of the time, I am pushing to make progress, pushing to keep my act together, pushing to make good on my talents and promise. If I wait to feel 100% before I do anything, I’m never going to go anywhere, because even when I start out feeling great, within a short period of time, I have maxed myself out and am feeling sick and shaky again.

On the one hand, I do know that recovery and balance are good things to have. I know  need to take care of myself and not push myself so hard that I get hurt — again. On the other hand, it’s a fine line between taking care of myself and coddling myself… and missing out on life happening around me because I don’t feel like doing anything when I’m feeling like crap. If I wait to feel good, before I do anything, life will completely pass me by.

And then what?

So, here’s what I’m thinking. I know that the concept of “pain is weakness leaving the body” only works if the pain is controlled and short-lived, and followed by serious rest and recovery. Pushing constantly without a break is trouble. I also know that things that make me feel pain are not always that serious — like a torn muscle or a serious injury. It can be something as simple as just not having enough sleep, or having too much adrenaline in my system. And I know that when I am totally engaged in things that are going on around me, and I am lasered and focused, I can be pretty functional and get a lot of things done — actually fueled to a large degree by the pain I’m feeling. It’s energy. It doesn’t feel great, and it’s not always fun, but it’s there and it’s useful.

So, if I can use that pain as an impetus to get off my ass and get going, so much the better. I need to quit trying to get rid of this pain and just accept that it’s there, and find what else is there for me to do and experience.

Like today. I’m still foggy and tired and stressed, etc. The thing is, when I am stressed, my senses are a bit sharpened, and I actually find it easier to focus on some things. That’s part of why I gravitate to high-stress situations. So, I need to find something that really holds my attention and gets me moving and feeling better — out of my head — so I can get the exercise and movement I need to chill out my system and make it easier for me to get the physical rest I need.

The pain is here. And it’s not going anywhere on its own. I might as well use it for something.

Speaking of moving, it’s time to get going and get out in this beautiful day.







Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

4 thoughts on “The proper use of pain”

  1. Thank you for your blog. I did not receive any info about PCS and MTBI after I was diagnosed. I did not know exactly what a concussion was and I had trouble looking up information at the time.

    I have found that advanced Physiotherapy for my neck has helped a lot recently (even though I was hurt in a motor vehicle accident several years ago). Techniques such as MANUAL traction and manual cervical manipulation (I sit down and turn my head while the physio pushes on the vertebrae to make them move properly.). Most of the dizziness, balance problems and nausea are gone. Much less headaches too.

    Note: I see the Physiotherapist in person and NOT an assistant for the advanced manual/physical manipulation of the vertebrae. In some clinics an assistant hooks you up to electrodes and leaves.

    I noticed some improvement to some aspects of my brain function too and less pain and fatigue.

    I hope this will help you and your readers. It seems like there is a lot of overlap between neck and brain issues.


  2. Thanks for the info. I have been having a lot of problems with my neck over the past months, due in part to an old shoulder injury which didn’t heal properly, and the crazy long work hours I’ve spent in front of a computer. I’ve been stretching my neck a lot and doing shoulder exercises, and I’ve noticed that my headaches and dizziness have decreased somewhat. At the same time, I have been doing a lot of other things, as well, so I don’t know if the neck/shoulder exercises have been the main contributors, but surely it hasn’t hurt me at all.

    Yes, PTSD and MTBI can go hand-in-hand, in my experience and opinion. People vastly underestimate the amount of disruption and trauma that can come from having your life turned upside-down by something you cannot see and circumstances you cannot predict.

    I still get “re-traumatized” on a regular basis by unexpected shocks and things going really badly when I’m least expecting them… kind of like life sucker-punching me. Only now I know how to recover physically from the shocks, so my brain can do the work of recovering mentally and emotionally from the recurring unpleasant surprises.

    There’s a lot we can do to overcome our disadvantages, but unfortunately a lot of people don’t talk about it, so…

    Best of luck to you – glad to hear the neck adjustments are working.


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