My left rotator cuff is giving me a bit of trouble again. I notice it when simple motions give me a twinge. Like pulling the sheets back or grabbing the seat belt. I, ever the self-diagnostician, always stop at the twinge. I lift the arm. Rotate it. Lift it again. Until I get it exactly right. And by right, I mean, when I can repeat the pain.
That may sound a bit counterproductive, but that’s how I pinpoint what to address. It hurts – right – here. Poke. Prod. Let me try a push up… Nope. That hurts. Maybe a stretch… Nope. That hurts. There is always rest but that sounds so very much like giving up. I mean, something caused this problem, I must FIX it.
So, I can’t do push ups but I can do my “regular” upper back/trapezius/cervical spine strengthening lifts. I do these lying face down on a half foam roller. Straight armed raises using 3 (yes, 3) lb weights – call me a wimp if you’d like – arms at my sides, then arms out to the sides, then…wait. When I lift my arms toward the back – the motion opposite my rotator cuff pain on the front – I feel weak on the left side. Go figure. A weak muscle is likely the culprit in the straining of it’s opposing muscle.
Why is it when we have pain that we poke and prod around the painful spot rather than behind it? That we scurry to shore up the injury instead of looking to its support system for weak links? Why do we fix rather than strengthen and stabilize in a way that would repair and steady us to move forward?
Perhaps because it’s dark and cobwebby down there. It may get ugly. We may get dirty. It may be hard work. Or it may be that we just don’t think about it.
It just sounds very much like God to me to say, “Wendy, I used that sore spot to get your attention, but what really needs doing is this.”
It’s such a better conversation than the one I usually have with myself that starts with, “ouch” and ends with: “this would have been so easy to prevent had I addressed it sooner.”
I believe God is in the injury prevention business, not just service and repair.
“I haven’t got time for the pain.” … a slogan for a pain reliever. Funny how some things are timeless.
I am on vacation at the beach. This is my very first morning and I open my eyes to a different room, different clock showing the time, different furniture, unfamiliar lighting. Where am I? Then I remember, and sink back into my pillow. That’s when I become aware of a distinct tightness in my neck. The left side. It doesn’t hurt exactly. It’s more like my shoulders are scrunched all the way up under my ear, like it’s shrugging without permission.
I have a history of cervical disc problems and neck and shoulder pain. Normally, I march to my exercise mat, pick up my hand weights and go through a relatively elaborate routine of stretching and strengthening. Not this morning. This morning I am on vacation. I receive this pain news differently. It’s not pain, it’s tightness. Not my enemy, just part of me. Not something to be dismissed but something to be befriended. To be spoken to.
I tell it, calm down. Not out loud, of course. Don’t want to wake my sleeping husband. But I send it a message – how does that happen? – to relax. My mind, very firmly but very intentionally, says comfort. And it does.
I am wondering how often I apply force when what is needed is pulling back. How often I go straight to addressing the situation with my capable approach when what is needed is calm. I am wondering if I can only really discern the right approach when I am on vacation. Resting. When I can attend to my body parts (which incidentally are incapable of lying – they always tell the truth ) one by one without the static of the rest of my life.
Today I am going to keep checking in with that neck (and a left hip that is ornery) and apply the balm of “How are you feeling?” This will be tricky because I have a long-established habit of ‘ignore and go on.’
Whose body is this, after all? The one loaned to me just for this lifetime. When it speaks up, doesn’t it deserve to be heard?