Why Do Something That Hurts You?

by - 2:17 PM

Last night, while laying in bed listening to my husband snore all the while sleeping like a baby, I laid there thinking what a terrible time for my insomnia to decide to pay me a visit. I tend to go through this cycle where every couple of months I get to sleep amazingly without the use of any sleeping aids like Ambien & Benadryl. And then just as fast as it comes, it goes away even quicker. I have tried everything to get myself sleepy before bed. Chamomile tea, hot baths with lavender, reading in bed; you name it, I've tried it.

The problem with last nights insomnia was that it was accompanied by pain in just about every part of my body. I have bruises up and down every part of my body, my muscles ache, my bones are sore, and that's not including my every day pains that come with the long term side effects of having blood cancer twice. I would prop my pillows up and try to sleep at an angle (which I usually do because of my reflux) but I would find my back or neck hurting in the process. I would try to sleep with my legs at my go-to sleeping position with one leg up at my chest and the other straight out. Yes, it sounds completely uncomfortable and even my husband thinks I sleep in a ridiculous way, but than again I am 5'3 and can take up an entire king sized bed if I could. That position made my bruises hurt and my ribs uncomfortable. I tried sleeping on my stomach but even if it wasn't painful enough, it's hard for me to sleep that way anyways. No matter what I tried, I could not get comfortable.
That got me to thinking about why I was in so much pain. This past week alone I had done pole Wednesday, silks Thursday evening, pole and pole doubles on Friday, and silks again on Monday and Tuesday. I also worked out every day Monday through Friday with my usual elliptical, weights, yoga, and kettle ball routine. Plus, Saturday and Sunday we were out adventuring around the state like we usually do. I didn't have a single day that was actually relaxing. But this is something that I choose to do so I probably don't get to complain about it. I can easily take a break right? Or even quit...
So back to last night. Since I couldn't sleep I was thinking about why I actually do allow myself to succumb to so much physical pain. Twice yesterday I had different people ask me why I don't just quit if it causes me to be bruised and hurting. Another person said "If you didn't bruise easily, I'd ask you why you were torturing yourself. But you just look like you're having so much fun!" That's exactly why I do this to myself. After going through so much unwanted pain from surgeries, chemo, hospitalizations, etc... I get to choose pain. I get to choose to hold onto a pole with just one hand or hanging from the silks with them wrapped around with waist and legs. There is a thrill that comes with being able to do something so physically demanding.
I walk around day to day trying to act like nothing bothers me, but the fact of the matter is I have pain pretty much everyday. My fingers and toes are constantly tingling and hurting from the neuropathy I have from chemo. The only way I can explain it to those that have never experienced it is when you sit on your leg too long or your hand falls asleep and you get that tingling feeling. I deal with that pretty much all the time. There is also a spot in my sternum where I get these phantom pains every once in a while. I don't like that place being touched by anyone, not even myself. I have an arsenal of narcotic pain medication in the medicine cabinet but I try to avoid those unless I am really in that much pain. But usually that is few and far between because I have learned to tune out the pain that occurs naturally due to all the treatment I went through. 
But the pain I dealt with last night, that was a chosen pain. I choose to do pole and silks, run marathons, lift weights, hike, bike, and ski. Therefore, I don't think it's right for me to take medication to stop the pain. Besides, I have gotten to the point where I actually dislike taking anything that isn't naturally occurring. I'm not one of those crazy "only use oils, only buy organic" type people but I do drink tea with a spoonful of local honey nightly. I use peppermint oil to avoid nausea. I make my own lemongrass bath salts to help soothe achey muscles.

Anyways, there is a difference in choosing pain and being forced pain. I hate needles but I love getting tattoos. I chose the pain from tattoos because I have that choice. I can choose what pain I endure. Sure, I have all this pain on a daily basis but I didn't choose cancer. I didn't choose bone marrow biopsies and surgeries. That pain was forced on me. Well kind of forced considering I wouldn't be here today without it. But the pain I get from physical activity helps me feel alive.  

When I think about where I am hurting after classes, I can know exactly what move, trick, or position caused that pain. I can remember doing my first invert or single leg hang on the pole. I can look at my knee and remember when I did my first same side knee climb. Superman causes bruises on my thighs, foot locks cause bruises on my ankles and the top of my feet. Ballrockers into pike cause my abs to get tight hurt. I can tell you each and everything that that causes a bruise because of silks or pole. But on the other hand, I can also tell you about the bruise that happened when my husband was holding my hand while walking around the Garden of the Gods. I can tell you about how I got the bruise on my shoulder from walking into a wall. And then there are the HUNDREDS of bruises I get that I have no clue how they happened.
That's a knee climb bruise
That my friend, is another downfall of being a cancer survivor. Like many of my other friends, our blood counts take a long time to rebound. My platelets are always on the low side of normal. I will bruise just sitting on the couch. The back of my legs bruise from sitting in the car. Sometimes, I just will bruise without having a reason for it. Instead of just sitting around in pain watching bruises pop up, I do something about it. I dance and climb and invert and drop. I stretch and do the splits and put my back in unusual positions. Why? Because I can. Because I want to push myself to the limits and have fun doing so. I'm not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself.
I'm going to challenge myself into doing something that I never thought I could do. Yes, it may take me a little while longer to catch on than most people because of my lack of coordination and balance. I may have to take breaks because of the neuropathy hurting more than I like to admit. I may even have to do absolutely nothing except clean and bake cookies because I am in that much pain the day after a class. I'll still continue to hike 14ers and run half marathons. I'm currently getting ready to start training for my first full marathon actually. And I will still climb the pole and fall out of tricks that I just can't get. And I certainly will get myself tangled in the silks thinking I have something when I don't. I also have great instructors who don't push too much and make it fun, even when I feel like I am struggling with something. But when all is said and done, I will also look back on what I have done and you can be sure I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and trying it in the first place. Because it's far better than laying in a hospital bed or sitting at home doing nothing and I'm having fun while doing so. Am I going to take a break? Probably not. Am I going to quit? Absolutely not!


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