Saturday, September 11, 2010
Pain in the Butt
I have a pain in my butt. Literally. I have pulled and probably torn my gluteal muscle.
Here's how it happened. I decided to get back into yoga and purchased a ten-class pass at a yoga studio. The odd thing about this yoga studio is that even the classes called introductory have turned out to be difficult. Probably these classes are easy for twenty-year-olds but not for sixty-year-olds. That dog pose is NOT easy, and neither is that cute movement of HOPPING from right leg stretch to left leg stretch. To say nothing of the twisty warrior pose and the really awful triangle pose. I actually felt more stressed AFTER some of those "introductory" yoga classes than before!
I kept trying, though, and I did find some gentler classes. And along the way, I seriously over-stretched my muscles. Oddly, I didn't realize I was doing this. I wasn't actually in pain during the yoga poses, but I was exerting myself. I know that you're supposed to avoid exercise that is painful, but I thought that you WERE supposed to exert. Anyway, clearly, I over-exerted.
SO I woke up one morning about a week ago to find that my butt REALLY hurt. Which it still does. My butt hurts when I sit, when I stand, when I walk, and even sometimes when I lie down. It hurts most when I go from lying or sitting to standing. That initial movement of standing and beginning to walk is quite painful.
I can't take those over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen, as those drugs are contraindicated with the low-dose medication I take for my heart arrythmia. And I most definitely do not want to start a round of doctor visits for this problem. It's a pulled/torn muscle, I got it by over-exercising, and it will heal eventually. Unfortunately, eventually means a couple of months.
Now I'd like to spend a little time exploring how this pain in the butt is affecting me.
A GRAY PALL. I find that this pain in the butt colors my whole life. The color is gray. Things that I would normally enjoy are not so enjoyable because the accompanying pain pulls down the enjoyment level.
For example, let's take the idea of going to a movie at the Prytania Theater, which I love to do - normally. The thought of how it's going to hurt when I stand up from my seat at the end of the movie does detract from my enjoyment of the movie. This seems odd, but it's true. You might think that the movie would distract me from the pain - and part of the time it does - but that anticipation of the coming pain of standing up is there in the background.
What must it be like for people who live with much more serious injuries and pain levels? I think of people undergoing painful physical therapy for an injury. I can now imagine that it must be hard to enjoy the normally enjoyable events of a day because you know that a painful physical therapy session awaits. That anticipation of pain is always there in the background.
And what about people whose pain is constant and high-level? I simply cannot imagine how there could be any enjoyment in life.
I do want to point out, though, that as for myself, my color is gray and not black. The pain in my butt does detract from my enjoyment of life right now, but it does not eliminate it. And we might notice that I am certainly enjoying writing about it!
PULL TO BLACKNESS. Yet I also notice that it is well to be careful not to let a certain undertow take over. It's easy to think, It sure will be nice to be dead, where there is no more pain. Even with my relatively minor pain level, that thought bubbles up. I find, though, that I can acknowledge this thought and turn away from it. I can recognize this as one of my old thought patterns, and I can fairly easily remind myself that this pain level is not overwhelming, the pain is diminishing, the injury is not serious, and the whole thing will eventually heal. I also realize that this is an overly-dramatic thought for my situation.
I can absolutely understand, though, that a person in tremendous constant pain could decide to end the pain by taking his or her life. In fact, I understand that suicide is fairly common among burn victims.
TIREDNESS. I certainly do feel tired more easily. A pain in the butt is an energy-zapper! It's hard to get very excited about an evening activity. After a day at work, I feel ready to hit the sack!
GRUMPINESS. Besides having a pain in the butt, I think I AM somewhat of a pain in the butt. It is even harder than usual to maintain patience in trying circumstances. My store of patience gets exhausted more rapidly.
SYMPATHY. I'll have to admit that I do enjoy sympathetic expressions from others - from friends and from strangers. Yesterday at one of my favorite cafés, a man at the next table noticed that I was having difficulty going from sitting to standing, and asked, "You okay, Bé?" He really was concerned, I recognized him (and probably he me) as a frequenter of that café, and he was exactly the sort of New Orleans man to use the term Bé (or Bébé, or Babe) in a simpatico (to mix languages) way.
BETTER SLEEPING. Believe it or not, this pain in the butt has helped me to sleep more comfortably with my sleep apnea machine! For the last couple of years, I've used been sleeping on my side, since sleeping on the back is not recommended if you have sleep apnea. I've also been finding the machine apparatus somewhat uncomfortable and hard to keep on.
Now, with this pain in the butt, I have to sleep on my back. (Sleeping on either side is more painful.) So, because it's not good to sleep flat on your back with sleep apnea, I've been using lots of pillows to lie on my back but at a higher angle. Lo and behold, suddenly the sleep apnea apparatus is a lot more comfortable, I fall asleep easily, and it stays on. This is a wonderful improvement!
I do have the problem, though, of the pain keeping me awake, but this is diminishing. At first, I go to sleep easily because I have a warm bath just before bed, and this soothes my butt. Eventually, though, I awake in the night to use the bathroom. By then, the soothing effect of the bath has worn off and the effort of moving from lying to standing and then walking aggravates the pain in the butt. When I get back into bed, the pain sometimes keeps me awake, though I do eventually doze off.
Well, that's my pain in the butt story! In my next post, I will explore a particular insight from this pain in the butt experience.