Return to site

The Lesson of Constant Pain

Once upon a time, I was in a group class and we were doing some twisting thing and the guy leading me twisted me funny. I felt a sudden sharp pain in my butt, like something snapping, and from that point on I had constant, agonizing sciatica that ran my life.

It changed the way I felt about the guy. I didn't want to have anything to do with him. He had given me pain.

My constant pain in the ass rearranged everything. I lived from ibuprofen to ibuprofen and even that didn't do much, and I feared ruining my liver. I was short-tempered and couldn't pay attention to anything because of the pain. I couldn't sit down. I couldn't lie down. It's amazing how many activities this limits. People told me eventually it would go away, but after nine months of crippling pain that just got worse, I finally went to see the Bonesetter.

And, over the course of a number of visits, he took away my pain. And in case there had been any danger of me not transferring before when he was just my teacher, that danger was now gone. When people take away your pain you love them. Period. That is how it works.

Then one day something else came along and I got piriformis syndrome, on the same side. It was horrible. It refused to go away. It was a pain in my ass. Once again I went to the Bonesetter and he took away my pain and I loved him.

Then I was in my car accident. Almost five months ago. I don't know whether it's sciatica or piriformis this time. I don't know whether the accident reaggravated old injuries or whether this is a fresh nerve impingement. I'm beyond caring. I do know I'm supposed to be all better by now because the insurance company says so. “It's been two months! You should be better by now! We won't pay for multiple treatments! That chiropractor is just making you worse!” they said, when the Bonesetter was the only thing that was really helping....

I had gone to a doctor. He gave me more pain, in the form of drugs that made me feel sick and ruined my balance. He also gave me unnecessary additional stress, and unnecessary exposure to radiation, because he was a bad doctor and decided I had a broken hip, even though I had no symptoms, felt better when I put weight on my hip, showed nothing on my x-ray, and it's not a doctor's job to diagnose x-rays anyway. I went to another doctor who said the first one was full of shit.

I hated the bad doctor and never saw him again and felt good about the doctor who said I did not have a broken hip.

I went to physical therapy, but it was mostly for my seat-belt nerve injury. I learned that at physical therapy, they tell you to spend more time doing what you're already doing: yoga and pilates. I can do that on my own. I also learned that at physical therapy, they ice or heat you, your preference. In school we learned that mostly we do heat to feel nice, not because it does much. And the convincing CW on ice is that it's counter-productive to actual healing.

I liked my physical therapist ok because he was cute and had a nice body and made my neck feel better and made me feel good about doing what I was already doing and gave me license to do it more. But I didn't love him.  He did not, after all, truly take away my pain.

My butt is still in constant pain. I go to the Bonesetter and it feels better for a couple of days, or it feels better for half a day, or it feels better for a few hours, or at least it feels slightly better than it did before, and then I'm back to being in constant pain. I just saw him last night and this morning by 9 I was once again in so much pain I couldn't think about anything else.

I have massage therapist friends give me a good poking. And it feels better while it's being poked, and then the pain comes back. I love them while they're taking away my pain, but I can't love them on an nonstop basis because my pain is still with me.

And it would have to be my arse, wouldn't it. By now the Bonesetter has been thoroughly, as he would say, “up in my business.” I adore transference. It's one of my favourite hobbies. If taking away my pain also involves touching my erogenous zones with compassion and a high degree of physical and energetic awareness, wonderful! Bring it on! I transfer and love you all over the place!

And so now I have another problem: I feel guilty that my pain is not gone, after so many people have tried so hard to make it go away. I feel ungrateful for their communal efforts. I feel like I've done something wrong, like there's something wrong with me, because the pain is still here. So I don't talk about the pain, so no one will know.

I've come to identify my pain as part of myself, part of my identity. Here I am, only able to think straight and type because I'm currently light-headed with a double dose of Aleve. I hate drugs. But that's who I am: someone who's in pain all the time and has to pop drugs like M&M's in order to think about anything at all. If you take that definition away from me, wouldn't I collapse into disordered anarchy? Who would I be without my pain?

I'm crabby and bitchy and short-tempered because of my pain. Pain is exhausting. Pain is draining. Pain makes you feel tired when you're not tired. Pain makes you sad and lonely. Pain makes you draw away from society because you're living in the world of your pain. Pain takes normal people and turns them into the crazy morphine addict in To Kill a Mockingbird.

One night at school the Rolfer spent five minutes with my butt and took away my pain, completely, for a number of days. I cried. His magic was clearly just as powerful as the Bonesetter's. There was room in my heart for both a Jew and a South American! I loved him too! But then I started to feel jealous of the world, because as the pain came back, the Rolfer was not available to take it away again. I felt betrayed by him, that he would have other things to do and other clients to see, that could possibly be more important than my pain. I felt that he didn't love me. What kind of cruel sadist could know about my pain and let me live with it? I felt toyed with. I felt like I wanted to take all those other clients and drop them into the Bay, so that “my” magician would have time to take away my pain and give me my life back.

Another powerful magician came to school and taught us Ortho-Bionomy. He taught me how to Ortho-Bionomy my own butt, and I loved him in a brand new way, because he gave me the power and the magic to take my own pain away, and that was what I really wanted. I didn't want to rely on other people to take my pain away, because often they were not available, and they didn't care enough about my pain to rearrange their own lives to accommodate it. If Icould heal myself, I would always be able to count on me to save my day. I learned how easily and quickly I could take away my pain, and it made me happy—although it turned out that, although the Ortho-Bionomist knew it was easy to teach self-Ortho-Bionomy, he was not expecting me to be able to do it! He himself could not do self-Ortho-Bionomy, and was very impressed by the people who could. Apparently it's a gift.

The problem is, no man is an island. My self-Ortho-Bionomy is a quick fix, that lasts for an hour or so, and then the pain comes back. I cannot rely only on myself in this world. I need other people. No matter how much I may ideologically like the idea of total self-sufficiency, I am a social being with needs and desires that require other people's participation. Even though that opens me up to a maelstrom of irrational and painful feelings.

I want the pain in my ass to go away, for good. But nobody, not even the Bonesetter, is succeeding this time. I thought the Bonesetter could fix anything. I thought he could make anything better! What does it mean when our idols are human and have finite capabilities? I trusted him, and he let me down. I keep trusting him, and keep thinking, “this time it will be different, it will be as it was before the accident, I'll go to him and the pain will go away for good.” And each time, the pain does not go away for good. If even he cannot fix me, or help me fix myself, then there is the dark spectre of a lifetime of pain, and that scares me. I don't want to be that person, but as more and more time goes by, I am that person.

My constant pain affects my social behaviour (to say the least). One tiny aspect of it is that a milonga is a serious ordeal. I can stand up and get metatarsalgia such that I can't dance for days, or I can sit down and be in serious pain every microsecond, but at least be able to dance through my pain, for the ten minutes in which I actually dance. Unfortunately, being in draining, miserable, doped-up pain gives me what is called on Facebook “Bitchy Resting Face Syndrome,” it ruins me conversationally, and it makes me a bitter, resentful, jealous, angry woman who thinks this charismatic thought: “I hate sitting here watching everyone dance except me, I hate that the men I want to dance with will never ask me, this is a waste of time and money and pain, and I am sick to death of wandering through dangerous unlit neighbourhoods all alone late at night, and I'm sick to death of getting mugged, assaulted, chased, chased, chased, followed, etc. I'm sick of throwing away thousands of dollars and being in constant pain and risking my life every night just so men who don't like me can have the chance to make me feel bad about myself yet again.”

And yet, as we established in our last post, now that there is the possibility of dancing with Amadeo, I will indeed continue this ambivalent crusade. Pain or no. Because when I dance with Amadeo, he takes away my pain.

So I love him.