In my own life, I have dealt with injuries and conditions that have resulted in chronic pain and damage to the body. From a physical injury causing damage and bruising to the spine that left me paralyzed for some time, to battling Lyme Disease that did damage to my joints and muscles.
I have always been a determined person who didn’t voice pain and suffering, and would hide and deal with it. Not simply to appear strong, but to shift focus away from the suffering and to other tasks in life. The pain was still there. There is no denying it. I voiced it at first but had to realize, even those who showed compassion was not going to change any factor. Over time I also had to realize I have to be self reliant with any condition I have, just like many with disabilities, or what I prefer to call Adaptive Abilities.
It is a real struggle to deal with chronic and constant pain. There is no denying that. When you deal with genuine pain that can slow your daily progress and become worse at times, one thing that changes over time when you genuinely deal with it is, the constant reminder of it, and attention on it. I’ve had seen many who use known conditions as an excuse, and sadly some do pretend to have conditions in order to be lazy, and this is a factor. While education of these conditions is very important, it is also important to be mindful of what it is and is not. As well as be mindful of factors in ones life who do suffer from such conditions.
Fibromyalgia is a loose term for a diagnoses of muscular pain, thrown around today. Fibromyalgia in itself is not a disease, but a condition that can be related to other illness and trauma that causes pain in the muscle, often hard to bear. It is often hard to diagnose so physicians take a persons word for it based on symptoms they claim to have. I was diagnosed with it secondary to lyme disease and muscular damage. I really didn’t like the diagnoses.
The fact is Fibromyalgia does exist as a secondary issue to many other issues. It can be a temporary condition, or life challenging one. While I knew I would have issues with pain and my muscle due to damage to the tissue and nerves in my body, I also knew my mind could not focus on it. When our mind becomes focused on it, it will over whelm ones ability to function in daily life, and become the very focus of their life.
Every day I have pain. I accept that as part of life in samsara. Over time there is one clear factor. People with long term chronic pain do adapt. Your brain and mind learns to function with it and it does become less noticed. However there are times it increases to unbearable levels, but once again I learned to maintain it. Meditation has greatly helped with that.
Then there is simple facts, and people who use it as an excuse will argue against it. You must care for your body. You can not lay in bed even during times of chronic fatigue. You can not use it as an excuse to not seek employment. You can not let it rule your life. You can not let it become such a mental focus that it ads stress, strain, and burden to those around you.
What you do have to do is accept it. See it for what it is, and mindfully adjust your daily life. I have to work to survive in a western society. I can not expect others to take care of me, rather then take care of myself. Support is important, and understanding, but I can not let the pain be the focus and drive of life. I had to learn how to focus my mind to the present moment, while being mindful of physical needs, and my help of others.
So what should you do? First is to recognize the pain, the cause, and ways to improve and help lesson its grip on your mind. At first the pain can be so unbearable, that meditation and focusing your mind is difficult. Over time you realize your consciousness and mind is separate from body. You learn the real triggers, and real needs of the body. How to remove the bodies senses. This requires deeper looking within and learning your body and mind. You need to stop clinging to it.
Pushing yourself to hard is not the answer. Being lazy and laying around feeling bad about yourself seeking attention is not the answer. The middle path can help. This involves proper nutrition, increased water intake, modified stretching and exercise, and mindful meditation.
When it comes to muscular pain, it is a big challenge. I have done damage to the fibers that have healed in a way that causes strain to joints. The joints were damaged and are often stiff and painful. However if I simply felt bad about myself, did not do stretching, massage, and exercise, I would further lose my muscle, and the dense fibers that have formed from the primary cause would increase. I would become weak, and the effect would be chronic fatigue. I did this at first and lost energy and ability to move. Not because I had been paralyzed for several months, but because after regaining mobility, I didn’t take care of myself, and moped around the house. I felt like I had a constant severe flu. Weak, nausea took over, weigh gain with very little caloric intake, and water bloating. The muscle became tight but smaller. I wasn’t meditating, and was warned if I lay in bed all day long term, I would die.
I returned to the Dharma. A middle path. Learning to listen to my body and realize I had to do more. Meditating on my body. My mind focus not on the pain and condition, but being able to make a difference for others. I stretched. Did exercise in slow moderate amounts and increased slowly. Muscle that was so hard and tight became stronger. Meditative walks turned to faster walks as my body gained strength. The chronic physique syndrome I was diagnosed with over time greatly began to decrease. I realized if I sat around, I felt weak, tired, and flu like. If I stretched, walked, and exercised slowly, I felt energy and stronger. If I meditated I shifted mind to healing and realizing the true nature of things. My compassion for others was the focus, not my suffering. My mind that naturally adapted as many do with real conditions, further adapted.
I was self reliant as it should be, while sharing in life with others.
As I age some conditions increase but I continue to have proper care for myself, my body and mind. When you realize that mind is the one true constant to everything impermanent, much changes.
Proper diagnoses is important. Today MRI’s and other diagnostics can actually see damaged nerves and muscle. Treatments that help with it have improved. Implants that manage damaged nerves and nerve firing can be placed in the areas to help. Scans that show if areas are truly damaged, such as the loss of the sheath over the nerves. Proper supplements and nutrition make a big impact, and using the muscles, even when the nerves trigger pain, prevent one simple fact. You don’t use them, you will loose them.
Don’t push. Don’t be lazy. Don’t focus on it. Don’t desire attention. Shift the mind and Take the middle path.