What comes first, comes first

Hard lesson I keep re-learning: My very first priority is taking care of this bodymind complex. My very second priority is taking care of my relationships. Studying and writing about this disease and everything that relates to it … no better than third.

No matter how fascinating a line of inquiry is… no matter how badly I want to make that conference call… no matter how scintillatingly brilliant that blog post that’s unrolling in my head will be…

Something else has to come first.

If I haven’t had my brain-food shake, or it’s time for a massage, or the phone is ringing and it’s someone I haven’t connected with in awhile, then shake or massage or phone comes first, in that order.

And then, CRPS doing what it does to attention and memory, whatever I had on my mind beforehand is gone. Taking notes, unfortunately, doesn’t work — I’ve tried it. Notes work for those whose brains maintain networks of ideas, who can trigger a cascade of memories from the brief mnemonics. I’m working to get it back… which brings us back to the first priority.

And, I’ve found over the years, the second priority is inextricably linked to the first — directly and indirectly. But I think that’s a whole ‘nother post, all by itself.

I’ve been a Type A worker for about 24 years. Relaxing does not come naturally, but I’ve learned to manage it in reasonable doses. Losing work is bad enough, but losing it before I’ve even had a crack at doing it is, well, what those with pithier vocabularies call a mindf!ck.

Knowing that I’ll probably lose the work, and making the choice to go ahead anyway, takes more discipline than I always have. But — despite the learning difficulties — I’m getting better. Even I can learn to keep my priorities in order.

Share this article:

Not even anger is wasted

I’ve been struggling with how to make certain changes when my mind and body are so intolerant of change. I’m not naturally intolerant to change — quite the opposite! — but CRPS makes changes cost me a whole lot more.

Selling my home of 6 years, moving twice in one month to different regions under difficult circumstances, starting a relationship (which quickly became long-distance), having a setback with CRPS, and getting a windfall, is a heck of a lot of change in less than two months.

Some of them are good changes (for a change, ha ha) and am I ever grateful for that! But they cause significant shifts in the mind, which causes significant shifts in the body. …With chronic CRPS, there’s simply no practical difference between physical shifts and mental or emotional shifts any more. The domino effect is complete.

I had malabsorption syndrome for a few weeks there, where all my food went whizzing through me and I couldn’t get much nutrition out of it. It has settled down, but I still have considerable endocrine weirdness and I’m gaining too much weight (more than my intake should cause.) This means my feet and knees are under still-heavier attack from CRPS and fibromyalgia.

I find this disturbing enough to be frightening — if my feet get wiped out, there goes my one good form of exercise — until I got reminded of one of those things I used to know, back when philosophy was easy, before this past decade’s descent into Hell: “Fear and sorrow inhibit action… anger generates it. When you learn to make proper use of your anger, you can transmute fear and sorrow to anger, and anger, to action.”

That’s from Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior, a book I couldn’t read for years because allegory’s contrived tone always put me off. One of the great advantages to getting my butt so severely kicked for so long is that I finally shed a lot of intellectual arrogance; I can now stomach the clumsiness of allegory, if there’s something worth gleaning from it.

That tip alone might be worth the effort. I’ve got plenty of anger, and rightly so. Rather than always managing it out of sight, I can dump my fear in there, where I can use it.

Chosen change is mine. Make way.

Share this article:

Imp-possible

Healing this disease is supposed to be impossible. In my experience, the word “impossible” is relative.

Some things simply cannot be done: scaling Everest with flippers on your feet, for instance. Scaling Everest in a hot little bikini might be do-able, for all I know, although it hasn’t been done yet. I’ve met one or two people who seemed well suited (so to speak) for the job.

Many things that are widely considered impossible are simply heinously difficult, requiring extra time, diligence, and determination. They may be practically impossible, because most people are not willing to try that hard and can’t imagine that anyone else would be. I’ve met a few of those, too.

When facing the practically impossible, it helps to have a certain blithely F-U attitude, to be willing to flip a bird or two at the forces – or people – that seem to hold me from it. Not to hold resentment, but to detach from their limitations and clarify that they have no hold over me.

It helps to realize that those who tell me it’s impossible are really speaking for themselves, but that doesn’t mean they get to speak for me.

In short, it helps to have that inner steel spring that winds me up beyond any comfort zone and propels my willful butt over the heads of everyone who has failed before they began, and lets me look at them – not with contempt, because that has no place at this height – but with a cheerful bouyancy that holds the possibility that maybe there’s room for them up here, too.

This attitude is springy without being snappish, free-spirited without wasting time in rebellion, wild and fresh with only its own inner guidance for discipline.

It’s impish, in other words.

And this gives us a word we can use to describe things like scaling Everest in a skimpy swimsuit, or inviting cannibals to a linen-dressed tea, or curing CRPS:

Imp-possible.

I rather like that.

Curing CRPS is imp-possible. Excellent. Bring on the bikinis.

Share this article: