Losing the Pain

by Mary on January 5, 2017

some of my plants at sunset

some of my plants at sunset

At my consult for my back surgery I told my surgeon that I wanted the function back on my left side so I could skate, and that “I can live with this pain.” For the first weeks afterward, though, when I was unsure whether the pain would resolve, I was rethinking that notion.

At my one-week post-op visit a gregarious patient in the waiting room gushed to me about how wonderful he felt, how he could hardly remember his post-op instructions since his sciatic pain was completely gone. The exchange left me feeling worse (no one called me a saint).

Things gradually improved, though, and lately my recovery has snowballed. Last week my family and I drove downtown, had dinner and a movie, and drove home. None of it hurt. And without that, life for me would be quite different.

When I couldn’t skate I lost contact with my local skating friends except for a couple of appreciated ‘How are you’ emails and get-well cards. Most of my non-skating friends are outdoorsy and like to hike or walk their dogs when we get together. And even my artsy friends like to go out together for dinner or a show. Sure, my close friends still called me while I was injured and even visited a little, but it was pretty lonely.

My online friends were a lifeline and I reject the idea that online friends aren’t ‘real’ friends– sometimes they are the best ones. I could blog, I could e-mail, and there’s Facebook.  That study that claims that spending time on Facebook makes people less happy has a big confounder: the sicker my friends are (including myself) the more time they spend on Facebook. So if you see that your friend is on Facebook all the time, chat them up! Or if you can, make a phone or house call.

trying on some fun glasses

trying on some fun glasses

Really I’m not sure what I would have done if I’d had to continue living with the pain. Probably go into some kind of cognitive-behavioral therapy for pain patients if I could have found that. I’d had some empathy before for friends and family with chronic pain, I have more now. Let’s just say that I don’t think I would make a very uplifting pain patient. Probably I should study CBT or meditation preemptively in case I find myself there again.

Now I’m one of the lucky ones, with a second chance to travel, hike, just to live my day without making the choice between serious distraction from pain or taking at least some hit to my already flakey mid-life IQ from one or more pain meds. But I’m not forgetting my friends who have not yet had the same luck.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Marcia January 5, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Great news Mary! I ‘m so happy to hear this! Experiences like your definitely give us new perspective. BTW we’ve got Gracie and Shoma Uno skating at our rink this month. I’m in fan girl heaven. 🙂
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Mary January 5, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Thanks Marcia for sharing my joy! Shoma and Gracie both, oh my gosh, I’d be in fangirl heaven too! Shoma looks so young and adorable, except when he’s about to compete– then he looks so fierce!


Eva January 5, 2017 at 1:37 pm

I’m so happy to hear that you were able to enjoy a day pain-free! That’s huge! Your online skating friends are always here for you so feel free to chat with us anytime. 🙂
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Mary January 5, 2017 at 11:09 pm

Thanks Eva, it is a wonderful thing! Nice to know you are up for a chat!


George A. January 5, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Mary! It’s so good to hear that your pain is resolving. I hope the new year will be kinder than the old one.


Mary January 6, 2017 at 2:27 am

Thanks George, I hope so too! More productive would be good as well!


Melissa January 5, 2017 at 8:32 pm

This is the best way to start a new year! I was starting to worry when you hadn’t posted about your doctor appointment – I always think no news is bad news, but didn’t want to nag about it. I am so happy that your pain is resolving. When are you allowed to skate again? Hope it is very soon!

I like those glasses – and of course love the fuchsia jacket. Happy 2017!


Mary January 5, 2017 at 11:15 pm

Yes, sorry, I had house guests over the holidays and couldn’t quite get to the blog! I’m thrilled with how I’m doing. My surgeon said I could skate at 6 weeks but no falling until 3 months, which puts me in a bit of an odd position. I elected to wait until after the holidays to think more about that conundrum. But now I’m ready to cautiously start.


Jo January 6, 2017 at 3:16 am

Happy new year, Mary! So good to hear that the pain is soooo much better. It sounds like the healing is really kicking in. And I’m excited to hear about the return to the rink. Take it easy and slow, okay? I love the plant pics!
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Mary January 6, 2017 at 5:13 pm

Thanks Jo! My plants got a lot of TLC last year, including those cute new glass homes for some of my tillandsias! And I will take it easy, basic stroking and the like for sure.


Wendi January 9, 2017 at 1:48 pm

I am SO GLAD to see that you are feeling better – and the video of you heel walking WHOOT WHOOT! Keep going girly! Happy New Year!
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Mary January 10, 2017 at 5:35 am

Thanks so much Wendi! It is a very auspicious start to the year!


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