Inflammation is caused by chemicals in your white blood cells rushing to the point of injury and pain. Emerging from your bone marrow, that puffy swelling around your recent knife cut while chopping vegetables, is courtesy of your immune system at work. It is there to protect you as your cut heals. Because my pain is from a long term accumulative compression of my spinal cord, my immune system has been on the job 24/7 for years. It is a chronic pain condition, not an acute one. The inflammation never lets up and only increases my pain to red hot acute sensations that radiate throughout the length of the nerve pathways involved.
My neurologist knows all about this. When I saw her last week, she put me on a week of oral steroids to bring me some relief before I see the surgeon on the 14th of this month. One effect of steroids is to reduce inflammation. She knew that I am not a fan of drugs but I readily agreed to take them. Ice packs, Ibuprofen and herbs would only take me so far, and I knew my body needed help. Steroids affect us all differently. In the early days of my MS diagnosis, steroids were the only drugs available at that time to halt inflammation in the MS brain.
One neurologist put me on three days of intravenous Solumedrol which was a standard procedure. I felt so exhausted on a systemic level from the MS exacerbation I was experiencing, and was so overwhelmed with the unknowns of this disease, I agreed to sit in a room in the local hospital hooked up to an IV drip for several hours each day. After I came home, I felt more and more jittery, anxious, and agitated. I remember swatting Richard’s hand away in an irrational rage that he dared to help me out of the car. I felt like an angry empty paper bag.
This time, it is just the right dosage and amount to begin to soothe my mini lava flows of pain. It is not all gone, but it is much more manageable. Pain is not running my life and that is a huge relief. Meanwhile, aside from feeling a little too buzzed to sleep well, I am given another opportunity to explore my pain now that I have some distance from it. “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional,” arises once more as an invitation. My pain is real but how I choose to deal with it can either create or release the emotional and psychological burden that is quick to attach itself to my experience. Most of my suffering, now and in the past seems to be based in the strong belief that; “This is wrong and should not be happening to me.”
Opening to hold my body in love, injured exactly as it is, brought me to remembering the Japanese art of Kintsukuroi. Broken pottery is reassembled with lacquer containing gold, silver, or platinum powder. The resulting object shines along the cracks with exquisite beauty. That which is broken is made whole, the new and the old, the damaged and the resplendent, are indistinguishable as separate states.
When I can love myself in all my broken human ways, the cracks are filled in and made whole with soft shining light. It is humbling and I am given a meaning for my suffering, which in itself is a rediscovery of wholeness and health.