[Note: While I am still participating in the WEGO Health Activist challenge, the prompt for today was to write a letter to my 16-year-old self, the likes of which I've already done relatively recently, so I decided that the better option was to just blog ahead on my own for a day.]
I did something weird to my wrist. Not, as one might expect, in a big arm balance pose or from doing too many chaturangas. Rather, I was sitting cross-legged, leaned back to switch the cross of my legs, and set my left hand down carelessly. There was a twinge, and now my wrist is sore. Not a lot, though I am taking care to let it heal and avoiding poses that put pressure on it or aggravate the soreness.
I’m not worried. This happens to me — as with most people who engage in activity or life — from time to time when my thoughts are not perfectly in every part of my body at every second. In fact, knowing this pain comes from a specific, pin-pointable act is quite comforting to me. It reinforces my belief that at least some of the time, pain makes sense.
Because it’s also been a bad few weeks in terms of endometriosis. Between problems with my last prescription, quitting it, having an unmitigated cycle, and starting a new medication — let’s just say I do not love my pelvis — or any of the muscles that attach to my pelvis — and leave it at that.
Only, I can’t leave it at that.
I’ve had pain in my left pelvic region, from just past the midline in front right around to near the midline in back, severe enough to impact my yoga practice, my running stride, and my gait when I walk. While it may be aggravated in part by the running, it doesn’t have a direct and definitive cause like my wrist pain does. Nor does it respond predictably to remedies like stretching and rest. While I’m not doing anything that deliberately increases the pain, neither am I significantly modifying my routine in hopes of decreasing it — because history has shown me that it’s going to hurt whether I work my hip or not.
I’m not worried. This happens to me from time to time when my endocrine system or other parts of my body decide to rebel in response to an indiscernible trigger. It reinforces my belief that at least some of the time, pain makes no sense.
I have this bad habit of wanting to categorize; it helps me feel like I know what’s going on. Especially, I want to categorize unpredictable happenings, like when I hurt in ways I can’t explain. In that categorization, it’s way too easy for me to label predictable pain — with a pin-pointable source, that behaves in standard ways — as “real.” It’s also way too easy for me to label unpredictable pain — without such a specific source, that behaves in inexplicable and disagreeable ways — as “imaginary.” It probably does not help that at least some of the endo pain is nerve pain, which I keep wanting to translate as “in my head” pain.
In a few limited respects, this is actually useful: My wrist soreness is likely to heal if I do the standard things to take care of it. It is likely to get worse if I refuse to engage in that self-care. The pelvic pain, on the other hand, is most likely to do whatever the fuck it pleases regardless of whatever self-care I do or don’t do. So there’s a certain train of thought where I need to back off stress on my wrist so I don’t make it worse. By that same train of thought, backing off on my pelvis and hip is useless because it won’t make anything better.
Except. Even if the source is neurological, even if the pain is “imaginary,” the stress and tension it brings to that area of my body is very much real. The consequences of that pain are real. The lack of sleep, the short temper, the fatigue, the weakened immune system, the readiness to break down in tears: these are all real.
So there comes a point when I have to get over — or work with — my perceptions of this pain as unreal, as something that’s not actually happening to me. Because even if it refuses to react in any way I can define, quantify, or mitigate pain, it is actually happening. This “imaginary pain” is real.