I began making changes to my life last month that I hope will help me relax, just a bit everyday.
I am walking several times a week and that is goodness for my soul & a big stress reducer.
New employer, similar stress level, but I get to go home at night and not stress the small business struggles.
Then, last Saturday, out of the blue I wake up and my shoulder and neck are hurting really, really bad. By Sunday afternoon, the front of my chest is hurting and breathing is painful. Heart attack? Pinched nerve?
Turns out it is stress, again.
I popped ibuprofen and coated my skin in icy heat stuff and made it through the week as best I could as sleep was not my friend with the pain.
Thursday I decided I had dealt with the pain enough and sat down and called an acupuncturist. I knew I couldn't take time off from work to go do this appointment, so I asked if she had anything Saturday. Damn if she didn't. 12:15 p.m. I have my daughter with me this weekend and thought it would be cool for her to see this done and the doctor said, "no problem."
Lana and I had a fabulous Friday night Girls Night and on Saturday we got up and rode our bike to Dunkin Donuts so she could get a weekend breakfast treat. Then we headed off to the acupuncturist.
We sat in a lovely room watching a twirling dragonfly mobile and listening to soft asian themed muzak. Then the doctor came in and walked me through what had brought me in, what meds I am on, what other ailments I have and what my day to day life is like. Her head started shaking side to side with sad shame, shame you are a big ole mess look in her eyes. She walked me through to a place of acknowledgment that it is not current stress that is hurting my body, but months and years of accumulated stress and lack of release. I am holding onto my stress like a shield or big comfy blanket.
She walked me through how all of my ailments are auto immune and what that means. My stress has my body on heightened alert and is prepared and acting upon the stress the moment it registers, whether or not it needs to respond. And when my body responds, it treats every threat as a high alert. Even when I think I am being all low key, my body is acting on my behalf, doing it's best to protect me. It is doing such a good job that it works overtime and is no longer able to see it is attacking friendly cells too.
She described that I no longer have any buffer for stress. All of my stress is processed as if it is extreme because of the high stress level I have carried for so long. That my body has lost the ability to accurately determine my risk as stress happens, that my body is in a constant state of fight or flight because I don't relax.
She talked to me about how we are going to rebuild a buffer for me so that my mind can help my body process & determine the true level of each stressful experience. So, the plan is to do acupuncture for my neck and to reset my stress levels. She also sent me home with 3 bottles of herbs to regulate my hormones & adrenals and one to help me sleep and deal with my allergies.
She was very concerned about the amounts of steroids I am taking for allergies and eczema and hopes to get me off them completely. I am game and have little to lose by giving her a month or two. I have already lost my gallbladder and put my colon at risk due to avoidance and stress. I know where my life is headed if I don't make some extreme changes to how I deal with life and I choose to live to a ripe ole age versus a heart attack or stroke by 50.
I choose to learn and apply this knowledge to retrain my brain and body to see the situations and not react so fast. I need to strengthen my meditation and breath muscles. I have to practice being in and staying in the moment, not reliving pain or forecasting in the what-if forest.
Yes, yes I know that I have written a small book's worth of blogs about my big plans to deal with my stress. Let me remind you that I have admitted, the Melissa plan of attack is a slow, methodical, two steps forward, one step back type of dance. I have just recently come to accept that unless a choice is really the obvious choice, I prefer a wait and see & gather more information approach. After beating myself up for a long while for not being decisive, I accept that I am decisive when I am ready and not a fucking moment sooner and you best get out of my way when I start moving, 'cause I don't stop.
I know with each decision that I make that feels right and turns out kinda like what I wanted, that I am building my gut muscle too.
So, acupuncture is the latest attempt to relax. Let me tell you that it was really great. It didn't hurt at all. The needles she put in my skull felt weird and I was very aware of them, but no pain. She even put one in Lana's arm so she could feel that it didn't hurt. It was very cool to have my daughter there to hang with me and to show her new ideas that she made need to incorporate into her life as she grows up.
Due to the pain in my neck, the doctor decided to do "Cupping" after the acupuncture. Using a flame, they turn these little glass balls into suction cups and attach them on your back. It is a crazy weird feeling, almost like some huge mythical viking man has his thumbs, all 10 of them pushing into your back really hard. The cups suck your skin up into them creating the pull. I laid there for 10 minutes with the pressure and then she came back in and released them. OMG I felt so dreamy and relaxed after. Instant pain & tension relief. If it weren't for the horrid big red hickeys the suction causes, I would have requested she do my face. I am now the proud owner of some lovely octopus suction circles all over my back for a week or so. They don't hurt at all, but are scary to look at.
I haven't had to take any pain meds since Friday night. I look forward to going back this Friday for treatment number 2. She would like for me to come every week, forever, but I explained that I can't afford to. I will however reach deep into my pockets for a month or two to see what type of buffer we can create with acupuncture. I will do everything I can to help my body realign to a place of peace.
Then maybe I can stretch the peace out between appointments with my mediation and yoga and more time having fun with my family and friends.