Saturday, September 15, 2012

The making of a better day

When I awakened this morning I was greeted with a familiar and yet unwelcomed cephalic pressure and a rhythmic pain in my head that felt as though it was mimicking a persistent lunar tide.  As each wave of pain rolled over my head and crashed into my face I wondered what the origin of this now daily battering could be.  I dutifully reviewed the many possibilities with great tedium.  Had I slept wrong?  What a silly question to entertain.  The tension in my shoulders nagged at me, but was this the cause or the complication?  So was this just related to the stress of the day before?  I had spent nine hours in the hospital while Sid had a heart ablation procedure.  I recall my feeling of calm and patience as I waited all day as first his procedure was delayed by two and a half hours and then the arduous task of waiting through the procedure and recovery period.  By the time Sid was settled into the intensive care room for the night I was feeling the tension of the day as exhaustion overcame me.  Why did I think for a minute that I was really so calm and patient?  It was a facade that I had worn to fool anyone that cared to glance my way and I had actually fooled myself too.  By 8:00 last night I was suddenly irritable and unwilling to wait a second longer.  Wasn't nine hours long enough?!  And have I possibly become so stress management illiterate that I am now completely unable to navigate a single stressful moment?  That would only explain today's global headache and not all those that have come before.  I had experienced a four month sabbatical from the pain in my head, but now it had returned with a vengence.  So what on earth is different from then to now?  Maybe I have a brain tumor!  As I consider that possibility I realize the accompanying euphoria is starkly absent.  Euphoria would be good!  . . . but not the brain tumor.  Although, I would give anything for a definitive diagnosis that would make sense to the rest of the world.  How scary is it that I would even entertain that thought?

These are difficult days . . . knowing the next headache is coming and waiting with dread and dark anticipation for the crushing pain to come calling again.  I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Niceties and conversation become a burden.  Attempting to focus and concentrate on a task are given a wide berth, because these simple acts that others so carelessly take for granted serve as potentiators to the already severe pain.  And all the bottles of analgesics don't even begin to take the edge off the pain and pressure that is pulsating within the confines of my skull.  The evasive nature of this pain in my head reminds me of a stealthy cat that pounces when I least expect.  The global pressure is my constant companion and seems to build in intensity like a harbinger for the explosion of pain to come.   How does a day like that have any possibility at all to get better?

As I sit undisturbed in my favorite place on the sofa I muse that question with no expectation that an answer will expose itself.  I wonder if there is some way I have control over this daily challenge.  I have noticed when I focus my attention on my family the pain in my head eases a bit and some times subsides like a retreating tide.  The balance of activity and rest are always at the forefront and remain the first priority when managing any FMS symptoms.  Distractions are valuable tools that always help to ease the nagging pain that threatens the quality of my life.  One of the distractions that I employ are feeding and watching the local birds, especially the hummingbirds that suck down 5 quarts of syrup every day.  Another bird that is an effective distraction is the Roadrunner.  A Roadrunner dashed across the driveway this afternoon as I was leaving in the car to go to the pharmacy.  The Roadrunner is very shy so it is quite a privilege to be able to see him in the cactus garden in search of lizards to dine on.  Of course digging in the dirt is always therapeutic, but it was 103 degrees F. today so that wasn't a good idea.  The multitude of distractions I have used are a component of this puzzle I muse, but distractions are just one more tool in the pain relief tool box.  There is something else that is more profound.

 The universal observation that I have made is people with FMS have extraordinary abilities to feel empathy for others and it is this ability that may hold the key for pain control.  As we attend to others in need of emotional or physical care, we may experience less pain. By shifting our focus from ourselves to others around us, we make someone else's day so much better.  Emotional and physical pain is eased for the person and in exchange, our day is so much better too.  Even a simple act of kindness can make a difference in our pain and our day.  This isn't something I have researched, it's just the "science" of observation.  I wonder what that mechanism is.  It may be related to energy flow between two people and the subsequent release of endorphins and the joy that is experienced as a result of that interaction.  These benefits aren't dramatic.  These benefits are subtle and yet very powerful.  In addition, the healing power of simple touch should not be underestimated.  All you have to do is give someone with a positive energy a hug.  You don't need to see a healer to benefit from this age old simple act.  I'm thinking it really is as simple as that and yet it's the result of a complex interaction of energy exchange between two people.  You can make your day better and experience less pain by a simple act of kindness accompanied by a warm and caring hug.  To make your day better, make someone else's day better . . . it's like magic.  Blessings to you and to the people whose days you have made better in a selfless act of kindness.

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