Tag Archives: pain

More than Chiropractic

Working as a chiropractic assistant, I deal with a lot of people in pain.  Often.

People in pain just aren’t themselves.   (Are you ever your best self when you’re sick or in pain?) They are often crabby, short tempered, angry and all sorts of other difficult emotions and sensations that make them sometimes, quite frankly, difficult to deal with.  There is really a great person underneath all that they’re experiencing.   If you have worked in a health field, you may know exactly what I am talking about.  If you’ve never worked in a health field where you deal with the sick, the pained or those who have lost hope, I’m not sure you can fully understand the energy it takes and what a special environment it is.

I love what I do and wouldn’t trade helping people heal for anything in the world but, it is still a challenging environment at times. I’ve learned over the years that you just have to help people to the best of your ability and wait for their true personality to emerge once you’ve washed away their pain.

Today, we had a man who was in severe, acute pain. I would say distress. He could barely lie down or get on the table. Standing took him effort, held breath and visible struggle.  It broke my heart to see him that way as he fought his insurance company and radiology clinic on the phone, just to get help.  Although it was very busy, I did my best to tend to him as much as I could to make it easier for him.

I asked him many times, what else I could do for him. At one point, he asked if I could help him with his shoes since it hurt so much for him to bend down. I smiled as I tied his shoes and tried to joke around in an effort to make him more comfortable with the fact he just couldn’t do anything on his own.  When I asked him if he needed anything else, his response made me stop. It made me pause and put down my other work. It made me come around my desk and into the waiting room next to him.

“I could really use some moral support.”

I couldn’t help but smile and tell him that I really had been there. It was how I found chiropractic in the first place, when my roommate came home to find me on the floor, unable to get up.  I told him that it does get better even though it doesn’t feel like it.  I told him that he certainly was in the right place with the right people that could help him.  When he mentioned that I looked like I had full range of motion, I grinned and said, “Well Sir, I’ve been under chiropractic care since 2005 and it helps. It really does help.”

Later, he dropped something and sighed frustrated, maybe even dejectedly. Resigned.  He called my name and when I went to help, he apologized and said how helpless he felt. How awful it was to feel like he couldn’t do anything on his own.  I reassured him that this was what I was here for and I was happy to do it. Anything I could do, I was happy to do it.

It really was the truth. I loved helping him. I loved being able to at least get him to smile.  These little interactions with him warmed my heart for the rest of the day. It made me feel so good about where I worked. It made me think about all the people that we’re helping on a daily basis. It also made me realize that not all pain is just physical.  There is so much surrounding physical pain – emotional and mental trouble that comes along side it.  We need to be more cautious, more aware. More intuitive.  More loving.

This man returned to my office about a half an hour later, reaching over the counter to hand me the washroom key.  He had gotten all the way back to his hotel, taken off his jacket and realized he still had the key.  I laughed and shook my head, asking him why he came back all that way, in pain, just to bring us back the key.

He responded with, “It was the right thing to do.”


Daily Battle

I work hard at myself. Really hard.

Every day I work to fight the demons that say you are not good enough. You’re not working hard enough. You are fat. You are worthless.

Every. Single. Day. I fight to make myself believe I am strong, capable, worthy of love and friendship. I fight to believe that people like me, that I am a good person full of love and compassion and that I have purpose.

Every. Day.

Some days are easier than others of course. Some days come and go and I barely notice the work. Other days, it feels like I am trying to walk uphill, on crumbling steps that disintegrate beneath my struggling feet.

At 33, I have gotten better. It’s gotten easier. I know where the darkness lurks most often and I am more or less prepared.

I have been so excited to come home. To spend Christmas with MY family. To be cozy and warm. To be loved.

I realize, sadly, that while I do feel those things, they are a tiny, little fraction of my thoughts and feelings.

Instead, my thoughts are like this.

I need to eat, but if I go to the fridge, Mom will comment and I will feel guilty and gross inside. 

Does this shirt show my belly fat, that I have gained through stress and depression? I don’t want Mom to see it and comment on how tight it might be.

Have I cleaned up enough? I don’t want Mom to see that I have been around, lest she get mad and say I left things around.

I really want to eat dessert, but…am afraid of what Mom will say.

I am so grateful that she bought food for us to eat…but I worry she will throw it in my face later if I am not good enough.

I would like to share some of my own traditions…but…she gets mad when I try to suggest a change.

Is that Mom coming up the stairs? Please…say she doesn’t want me for something.

Please, can I just have 20 minutes to myself, quietly.

So, the demons roar back with my tears. With my intense fears. With the realization that I trult sometimes feel traumatized. The demons and darkness come back, now that their Master is around, their ally.

The daily battles get bigger and have higher stakes.

At least for now. I am working hard. Harder than ever.

No wonder I struggle.


I am strangely good at supressing things. If you see me complain and cry, you probably think, “yeah right!” But it’s true. I stuff the truly painful things, memories and the like, way down where even I forget about them.

It is truly like, they happen and I am just destroyed, but then I wake up the next day. I am exhausted and often embarassed, but…I go make breakfast and plan my day. It’s obviously some defense mechanism I have built over the years. A way to move on and keep on surviving even when shit gets bad.

It’s so sad to me that I am like this. That I have had trauma enough to develop like that. I…can’t even explain how it happened or what trauma I had to force me into this. I just don’t know. It makes me sad to know that I have hurt loved ones because of this way that I stuff it all down. People can’t understand why I am still doing this or that, can’t I see how badly I hurt? Well, no. I can’t see it because I have squashed it down deep, without even trying. I truly cannot see it. At least the intensity of it.

It takes an act of God to bring those traumas back to light sometimes. It wasn’t until a couple years ago, and thanks to a loving person, that I realized how much of my crap is because of emotional trauma as a child. I just…never remembered. Unfortunately, when it does come back, I have to feel it all over again and then process it. It feels like horrific PTSD. It isn’t my favorite.

Then, there are even worse moments, when I least expect it and BAM. There it is. It hit me and I am in tears over this thing that happened years ago. I am feeling it so intensely, as if it were happening fresh. All over again.

I’m not sure what is going on, but…I’m getting a ton of those surprises lately. Each one ruins me. It destroys me and I feel run over. Exhausted and laid flat. Sometimes they are regrets I didn’t know I had. Other times they are feelings I surpressed so I could go on living one more day. Tonight one hit me so bad that I am lying in my room, sobbing as I struggle to get these feelings out to you.

I don’t know if I am alone in this feeling or experience but part of me hopes that I am. I wouldn’t want anyone to have surprise hurt. It is far less fun than surprise parties or surprise presents.

Or surprise cake.

I would like surprise cake.

When Friends Hurt

There are always people hurting. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes they tell you, sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes it is physical, sometimes it’s emotional. Sometimes it’s obvious, but sometimes it is subtle, quiet and insidious.

No matter what it is, unfortunately, there is rarely anything you can do but love them and express that to them. They might not be in a place to actively hear it, but they will retain that. Even so, say it again. Over and over. 

You can tell them they are allowed to be weak and hurt, but that they are strong for just being there. You can help them let down if they need to and you can help hold them up if they need that too.

So often, none of that feels like enough. A friend spoke last night about FEELING the sadness of a neighbor’s house fire. Not just thinking, “oh that’s so sad.” and being able to go on with your night. I can so relate to that. I am grateful to every friend that expresses hurt or frustrstion. I want to hear it. It feels GOOD to recieve that little plea. Like…hey friend, I heard that. I’m here.

But I can’t stop there. I HURT on their behalf. I feel their ache. The darkness. I wouldn’t trade this gift or ever want anyone to stop sharing, but man. I feel it. I so often wish they knew how intensely I feel them. How genuinely I just really wish I could hug them, hold them and help. Even if we have never met.

The opposite is true also. I feel their joy and happiness. I feel their success and love. It’s a beautiful thing that makes me want to jump up and down with them, but the best I can often do is text, email, tweet or share my love and support in a comment. I hope they know how genuine my words truly are.

I’m so appreciative of those that share their love, support,  pain, hurt and their joy. It’s part of being vulnerable and I value that. Even if you can’t reach out and open up right now. Wherever you’re at, don’t you worry, I’ll protect that soft spot.

That’s what friends do.