The Learning Point
One year after the attacks on the World Trade Center, exactly, Pat and I went away with our friends, AJ and Rob. There was a lot of falderal in NYC regarding the one year anniversary of September 11th (I have never approved of the use of the word anniversary regarding 911 - anniversaries are to celebrate happy occasions -- I believe a different word is in order) and we wanted to get out of town. AJ arranged a week in Cape May for us. It was one of the most fun, one of the happiest weeks of our adulthood. The four of us loved each other, deeply, and had a wonderful time together. Almost every day, I would suit up and run down to the beach; there, I ran to the lighthouse, stopped to pray and ran back. My chosen form of prayer is Buddhist chant; my routine was to chant until I received a message from on high and, after, resume my exercise. One day, after I returned from my run, AJ asked me how I could run every day, when I was in such pain?
You see, I had chronic, permanent back pain. I walked with a hunch. The only thing that made it better was whiskey - the only problem was that it also made everything else worse. Eventually, I would stop drinking altogether...
sidebar: in writing this story, i have had to confront some unbelievable truths regarding the timeline of my life. if i was still drinking in September, 2002, then i must have stopped drinking shortly after this trip because it was in October, 2002 that i met Steve Spraragen - and, by that time, i had stopped drinking. that means i have only known Steve just under 8 years and only been sober the same amount of time. i had it, firmly, in my head, that i have been sober over a decade and known Steve longer. well... i have, many times, said i don't have a good head for the passage of time..
When AJ asked me how I could run every day, in such pain, I replied without taking even a moment to consider it - the answer lies that close to my surface.
"If I let the pain stop me, it wins."
On the fourth day of our trip, I suited up; I ran to the beach, I ran to the lighthouse, I sat in the sand, I began to chant. I cannot say that I get an actual verbal message every single time I chant; though it does happen - especially in those days, as I was on a major spiritual path and needed a lot of guidance. On this day, I got a real, a sound, a tangible verbal message from the God in which I place my faith. The first part of the message was about my pain; the second was about a conflict I was having with two men who (I perceived) had wronged me. The message went like this:
"It's just pain. You have four working limbs and a body that does what you tell it to do. There's some pain in your spine and that's it. You can deal with it. As far as David and Tim go... I have no answers for you: you will be stronger if you figure this one out on your own."
I rose from the sand, ran back to the house and got on with my life.
Within the next few months I quit drinking, two doctors told me I had arthritis in my spine, I lost a lot of weight and the pain eased up on me, a lot. Life went on.
In the years since then, I have continued to use my body to the extreme. When I have injuries or pain, I see one of my healers (there are a lot of them, let me tell you), I confront it, I accept it, I battle it, I keep going. If the pain wins, I lose.
The pain never wins.
Last week, the pain won.
I hurt myself at the gym on Monday. I wasn't even lifting weight at the time. Hunter and I were doing crunches on the Swiss Ball and on the second set I said "ouch" and cradled the back of my head. Something in my neck had pinched. That night I ran to my best friend and massage therapist ( I am lucky to have a handful of best friends, all of whom are there to save me when I need saving ), Jason, and he gave me a quick neck and trapezoid tune up. Two days later, though, I was locked. The left side of my body was, essentially, paralyzed and I could not move my head. Thursday I saw my chiropractor, Dr Piken, and my accupuncturist, Dr Lee. They both worked on me, hard, and sent me home, where I had no choice but to lie still, watching tv and sleeping. Friday, I saw them again. What I learned from these visits is this: I have a herniated disc in my upper back, where the neck meets the traps (this came from an x-ray done by Doctor Piken) and that my chi on the left side of my body is defunct (Dr Lee did some hardcore accupuncture to move some of the chi from the right side to the left). By Saturday night, I had some pretty good range of motion again! (though the problem has not gone away, altogether). I can't work out. Too bad. I am in some pain. Too bad. Life goes on.
Here is where the true pain of this story and the true lesson of the story comes about...
About 8 months ago because of a spasm in the left side of my neck, my GP prescribed muscle relaxers. I have some left over. I've been using them during this rough time. I have been Nurse Jackie-ing two a day ( to Nurse Jackie a pill is to either crush it or chew it so the drug gets into your system faster ). I also asked a friend who suffers from bad migraines if he could spare a couple of vicodin. He obliged and I Nurse Jackied those, too. I also accepted a Lidocaine Patch from a friend. (Perhaps, at this juncture, I should mention that I don't use drugs - not even Aspirin - because I prefer to fight off things naturally; that is why I still had those old muscle relaxers -- I really only use pharmaceuticals in dire emergencies). In one day, I Nurse Jackie'd two muscle relaxers, one vicodin and used a Lidocaine Patch. ( I also ate three cupcakes, a bowl of popcorn, some Reese's peanut butter Easter eggs and a few chocolate cookies - because I am a closet emotion eater and these things were right in front of me; and misery loves emotion food). So in that one day, I filled my body with drugs (which it is not used to) and foods (the type of which it rarely gets).
I awoke yesterday, unable to move. Every joint in my body was swollen. I could not bend my ankles, my knees, my elbows, my fingers, my wrists, indeed, even my toes. There was no flexibility anywhere. I spent most of the day either lying still or doing work that could be done sitting down at a table. The pain and immobility was so bad that, finally, at 9:30, I went to bed.
This morning, I awoke, still swollen, still in pain. After thinking a bit about my situation, I went to my computer and searched "SIDE EFFECTS - VICODIN"
I searched "SIDE EFFECTS - LIDOCAINE PATCH"
I have said that a boy becomes a man (and in a world of equality, a girl becomes a woman) when he ( or she ) is able to accept accountability.
I did this. I took drugs that were not prescribed to me. I put phrama in a body that is not used to them. I ingested refined sugar and wheat, dairy, sodium into a digestive system that is usually fed more healthy fuel. I did it. I accept my responsibility and my punishment. Now I share my lesson.
Don't take drugs that are not prescribed to you by a doctor that you know and trust.
I told Jason that I have realized that one of the reasons I was born, one of the purposes of my life, is to see how clean I can get myself. I am here to see how far I can take my evolution. I have learned a lesson here that will help me stay on this track -- I have removed alcohol and tabacco from my system, as well as a lot of food product in which I do not believe. It is time to take it to the next level .. oh I won't take it as far as some fanatical people I have encountered; but I have learned my lesson, here.
My body is a temple.
I will not pollute it.