I was talking with a friend yesterday and the topic of my ongoing, never diagnosed side pain came up (she asked how it was doing). Her suggestion on how to deal with it was a rather interesting one that has been on my mind ever since.
She asked me “if your left flank could talk to you, what would it be saying”? The first thing that popped into my mind was “Help”! This wasn’t a sarcastic comment, it was the truth.
I have had various forms of this pain throughout my life. I have been diagnosed with several things which have or have not been treated, and the pain is the same but different; however, it is always there.
But the concept of my pain talking to me is a very interesting one. And, I realize, it is not necessarily a new one. Back in my pain clinics we were taught the differences between acute and chronic pain. While acute pain could be likened to a fire alarm – a warning that there is danger such as a burn or cut, chronic pain will not harm you. It it not life-threatening, but more a reminder that something in the body needs some TLC. This might be rest, exercise, medicine, etc.
I thought more about my flank pain and what it might be saying. Is there something going on that is potentially dangerous? Is it just a muscle or my scar tissue reminding me it is there? For someone with chronic pain listening to my body is extremely important. I get so tired of going to doctors and finding out there is “nothing wrong”. I have come to believe they think I am a hypochondriac, but I know the pain is real so I just label it as chronic and move on.
There have been times when this has not worked out in my favour. I go for a long time and then find out that it is an infection that is now out of control. Or I go right away and am told it is probably chronic and sent home, only to learn at a later date it is my gallbladder and I need it removed.
So, I am now really listening to my body to see what it is telling me. I believe my flank is saying that there is something going on that is not visible at first glance so I am going to arrange all the tests my doctor wants and accept the appointment with the specialist. If it does turn out to be nothing serious, at least I have taken all steps to ensure that.
I am also listening to my throat and head which are telling me that things like ice cream will only give me phlegm and a possible migraine which, on top of everything else are not really worth it. My arthritic fingers are telling me to “get back to some crocheting and shorter times on the keyboard please so we don’t stiffen up and become too inflamed”.
This can also work for my emotional pain. Just recently I went into a deep depression (combined with a physical pain flare) and realized it was warning me I had run out of a
key medication cold turkey. Once I got back on it everything started to return to normal and I know not to let that happen again.
How about you? Are parts of your body, or your emotions, talking to you? What are they saying? It might just be worth the listen.