Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hell On Earth

     Nothing will make you rethink your life like physical pain.

     About a month ago I found myself in the hospital unable to get rid of a succession of recurring migraines.  I had been up since 3:00 am and by 6:30 am, and four migraines later, my husband and I were on our way to the hospital.  Now, I'm no stranger to migraines.  I've been having them since I was 21 years old.  However, the last time I had to be hospitalized for them was at least 12 years ago.  They had been better.  They are mostly caused by my double scoliosis.  That's right; that means two curves in my spine instead of the "normal" one with scoliosis. This was discovered after seeing a chiropractor when just standing would make me feel like someone whacked me across the lower back with a two by four.  My migraines had been more frequent those days as well, but at that time I didn't know that was a side effect of the scoliosis.  My family practice Doctor wanted to send me to an orthopedic surgeon.  Have them put rods in my back.  I elected for the less invasive way of treatment.and for a new family practitioner.

     Treatment had been going well.  I was down to one curve and now that curve was working itself out of my spine.  The disc space between vertebrae was gorgeous if I do say so myself!  No arthritis, neck was looking as if I hadn't abused it during the "metal days"; everything going according to plan.  Until about four months ago.  I couldn't sleep some nights the pain was so bad in my hips.  I had a rib bone that would arbitrarily fall out of place limiting the mobility of my left arm and neck.  This same rib would also cause heart palpitations as movement would accidentally stimulate the vagus nerve.  These issues eventually all culminated into the migraine event that sent me to the hospital.

     My Chiropractor took X-Rays the following week.  I felt the tears well up in my eyes when I saw a side by side comparison of my spine from nearly two years ago, to my spine of just days before.  While my curve was still moving on out of spine, a generally great thing, the curve was also becoming more defined.  Instead of the spine I had where there was only a tiny deviation from straight, I had a spine where the curve wasn't as imperceptible as it was before.  The verdict was that the cardio workout I had been doing had a greater impact on my spine than it would normally.  I would not be exercising for awhile.  When I do get back into the gym, it will be strength training only.

     Now, in my ever elusive search for the "starfish," what most people didn't know is I had planned to start dancing again.  I have been a dancer, among all the other entertainment pursuits I have engaged in, and wanted to take Hip-Hop dance classes.  I wanted to dance as my form of exercise.  I have a lot of trouble staying focused on a treadmill as you can imagine.   So, I wanted to feel creative, build back up my skills, while at the same time get a great workout..  I was utterly disappointed given the news. 

   This brings me to where I am in my treatment today.   I have been having series of adjustments over the last month to get back on track, trying to rest and ward off further migraine activity, and waiting for a return to the gym.  Just a lot of resting and waiting.  Not a whole lot else going on, which, ultimately gives you a lot of time to think..

    I've been reading a lot about different theories of Heaven and Hell.  Mostly that maybe these aren't actual places where you see fluffy clouds and streets of gold or fire and brimstone, but that rather they are the true essence of what it means to be a human being.  You can create Heaven on earth, meaning there is no famine, no poverty, no pain because you engage in activities that help you and your fellow man or you can create your own self-absorbed Hell where nothing is satisfying, you aren't helping anybody much less yourself, and you are deep down miserable.

    I find what I was reading interesting during that time because  I have determined that pain is a great motivator to do the right things for your life.  Having four migraines in a row with uncontrollable nausea I would say classifies as Hell on earth.  Just maybe it's also a signal that I'm not exactly making heaven on earth.  That something is very, very, wrong here...  In the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris himself says, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it...."  Of course he also said, "You're not dying, you just can't think of anything good to do...".Both poignant quotes for me at this moment.

     I started re-examining every facet of my life.  From where I worked to to what I ate to how much time I was spending or not spending with friends or family or even God....  I took a complete inventory because all I knew is that the pain made me say, "something has to change..."  Just taking a muscle relaxer would ultimately be like putting a band aid on a deep cut.  Not going to be enough. I would need the equivalent of stitches. I thought about what I could let go of in my life, what I really felt in my heart I needed to do, who could I help, and what was holding me back from really grabbing that "starfish.." It all comes back to that for me really.

     So I made some decisions.  I won't go into all of them here, but what I want you to take away from this is that in order to grab the "starfish," I think you have to start from somewhere very basic in your thinking and in your life. Actually "de-clutter" your life if you will.  Find out what's working for you, what's not, and where it all fits into where you want to go.  It's kind of like when you move to a  new place of residence. You go through everything while you are packing and throw or give away things. It wouldn't make sense to move all the "junk" you don't really need to your new place. 

    Last Sunday while simply walking down a flight of stairs, a strange sense of peace came over me.  I believe this is the peace that is experienced when everything is as it should be that moment. Where truly the meaning of the line in the Lord's Prayer that says, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," is there before you... 

    In my mind, I am already dancing again.

Happy Fishing!