As I sit in my favorite local cafe, enjoying a quick lunch by myself, I hear the voice of Ella Fitzgerald. Something's gotta give, something's gotta give, something's gotta give.
I love Ella's voice and have listened to her music for years. Mostly before I was married and living a single life, with only myself to please with music choices.
But these words sunk in. As good lyrics do. They sunk in deep. Yes, something's gotta give. And something did.
When I first started writing this post, the title was Pain in my Neck. What you may not know, is that for the better part of a year I have been dealing with serious neck, shoulder and arm pain. It actually dates back to the birth of our second daughter so we have really been going on 2 1/2 years with this injury.
My mom says I do too much. I actually don't. I am really good at scheduling balance when it comes to my day job, my small business, caring for my family, and everything else. It isn't a scheduling problem, a time problem, or even a willpower problem. It is a pain problem.
I have lived with chronic pain before. In my early twenties, I lived with severe chronic pain, and there were times when I wasn't sure if I would work or have children. I overcame it and pushed myself to attend university and spend 4 years in a very intense, physically demanding program of theatre and dance. One professor told me, "you thrive in chaos." As an actor, it is a blessing. But it is no way to live a balanced life.
Since that time I have kept chaos at bay and chosen a life of as much simplicity, honesty, and presence as possible. Life is truly about the small moments in between. And that is now my happy place.
But something was bound to give. Severe pain, lost range of motion and strength, poor sleep (if any), and the exhaustion/frustration of being in pain took its toll. It started with less and less exercise. To the point that I was having trouble doing basic things, let alone anything fitness related.
Some might say I should drop my small business. First of all, I don't spend a lot of time on it. I manage it and contain the amount of time I give it. It brings me immense joy to connect with people and be creative. I would spend this time being creative anyways. I am a creative soul. Through my business, I am able to share it, connect with others, and challenge myself. It is one of the most rewarding parts of my life. Also, due to the nature of my injury, cooking and baking are good for me and don't cause me pain.
So what else could give? Well, my day job (as an HR Manager for a credit union) pays the mortgage. So that can't give. Kids? Well, there have been times when I can't pick them up or am grumpy from pain. Managing a household? I gave up on a perfectly clean house. Why bother? I have relaxed my home-making standards considerably and have a husband that helps out.
So what is left to give? 'Cause something's gotta give. The neck bone's connected to the shoulder bone....
My health is what finally gave in.
Living with pain has caused me to move less. I am often simply in too much pain to do more than get through the day. As time has gone by, and this has become progressively worse, I have realized that my fitness has suffered. As well as my waistline. But this isn't about weight. Not one bit.
So what's next? Medically speaking, we are waiting. Waiting to see what is really wrong, what can really be done, and what really will make me better. For the time being, I make the most of each day. And sometimes fail at keeping my frustration in check. I try to do small things that might help. But the truth is, little "helps" at this point.
When my physio asked me if there was anything that didn't cause pain, I quickly replied, "kneeding bread." So, if ever there was a sign, that was it. After being told that as long as my day job was sitting at a desk on a computer I was going to have these problems, it got me to thinking about my other "job". It's funny how life sends messages to reinforce that we are on the right path.
Her response was, "well, maybe you should do that for a living."