Pushing Through

I have difficulty sitting still.

I’ve always been this way. I fill up my time with different projects and things to keep my mind and body busy. I’m always writing a new book, a new short story or a poem or perhaps I’m working on a painting. I am always working on some kind of creative endeavour. I also work out in some way six days a week and on top of all of that, I work full time.

I do all of this despite the fact that I was born with spastic cerebral palsy and I also live with relapse and remitting multiple sclerosis. I’m used to pushing through the pain, trying to force my way around it so that I can accomplish the tasks that lay before me or the ones that I’ve set for myself.

I’ve been trying to think why I do this to myself, ignoring the pain as much as possible so that I can forge ahead instead of letting my body heal the way that it needs to. I think I’m just hardwired to try and outrun my disabilities as much as possible. If I accomplish all of these tasks, all the writing, painting all while exercising and working full time, somehow this will mean that I’m able to live beyond my disabilities and that they can’t hold me back.

I’ve always done this to myself. When I was first struck with multiple sclerosis, I went back to work after two weeks, even though I could barely do anything. I was so determined to prove that the MS wouldn’t hold me back that I pushed through all of the pain and the difficulties that I was experiencing. I had to prove to myself that I was stronger than the MS. Retrospect is 20/20 and I know that I did myself a lot of harm by ignoring my body.

It’s a habit that continues almost nine years later. I’ve always had a lot of difficulty listening to my body and watching the signs that my body gives me and sometimes choosing to ignore everything out of sheer stubbornness.

Recently, I got Covid. My husband and I had been so careful to stay safe, but the new variant is tricky and we got Covid. It was like a really bad cold, but there are other things at play for me. I started my first round of Mavenclad last year and my second one is coming up soon. It’s been causing me to black out and fall. This happened three times before my family doctor figured out that it could be caused by my blood pressure. I thought everything was under control, but I didn’t account for Covid symptoms.

My immune system is already lower because of the Mavenclad and I already have vertigo and balance issues from the MS. Add the dizziness caused by Covid to the mix and it’s no surprise that something happened.

I started having night sweats, so I got up out of bed to take off my t-shirt and open the window. Taking off my t-shirt was as far as I got. I remember turning towards the bedroom window when everything went black. I fell hard right on my tailbone and could feel pain radiate throughout my body. I knew something was wrong but didn’t know what. My husband found me on the floor and helped me back to bed where I lay in agony. I took a couple of days off of work to deal with the end of covid and my new injury.

Instead of relaxing, I wanted to prove that I could live beyond my injuries, that I could still be productive in some way. I chose to engage in some baking therapy, thinking that it wouldn’t take too much to bake a loaf of cinnamon swirl banana bread. Well, my body had other ideas. The pain was so bad that I could only do one thing and then sit down. Mash the bananas, sit down, mix in the wet ingredients, sit down, mix in the dry ingredients, sit down. On and one this went until I was able to put the pan in the oven. It took me two hours to do this. Thankfully, the banana bread turned out wonderfully, but I was in a terrible amount of pain.

I finally booked an appointment with a chiropractor. The pain was not going away and even though I was taking Robaxocet and ibuprofen, the pain would only lesson, not disappear. The chiropractor sent me to get X rays which I did earlier this week and I met with him the other day. I have a compression fracture in one of the vertebrae of my spine. There would be pain for four to six weeks but with his help, I should get back to 80 to 100%. He put me off work and told me that the only way to help myself heal was with rest. He gave me four weeks off work.

The fact that I made banana bread with a broken back is not lost on me. I was so desperate to prove that I could still be active and productive that I tried to push through the pain as I always had before, except now it wasn’t working.

I know that part of the reason that I stay so active is that I am trying to prove to myself and to everyone else around me that I am living beyond my disabilities. Also, why does all the rest time in order to heal frighten me? There is nothing wrong with resting and even if I’m just reading a book, I’m still being active.

I have to let go of the need to be productive to the point of hurting myself. I need to stop trying to push through the pain in order to prove something to myself and to those around me. Rest should not be just for healing but should be part of my daily life. I don’t need to write, paint or create all the time. My worth is not determined by my creative output and I need to remember that. Even if I am not writing or painting, it doesn’t mean that I’m not a writer or a painter.

I’ve been trying to think of where this need to be so productive came from. I know that before I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I was doing the same thing, always writing and painting and working full time. I think it goes deeper than that now. I think that since my diagnosis, I’ve been trying to outrun it in some way in case I’m ever bedridden again. In living with a disability and a disease, I’ve convinced myself that I’m able to go past the pain, that pushing through it is the only way when I should be comfortable with resting and treating my body like the temple that it is.

Even now, in writing this post, I had to figure out how I could write without causing myself. I’m unable to sit at my office chair so I’m currently writing this on my laptop while leaning back on the couch so that my back is against a heating pad. Resting is difficult for me. My mind keeps telling me that every moment I’m not creating something is a moment wasted.

What I need to learn over the next few weeks is that resting is not a punishment, that giving my body the rest that it needs will allow me to heal all the more quickly.

Going forward, I need to honour my body and listen to it more clearly. Listening to my body isn’t a bad thing. I need to stop seeing any lack of productivity as a lack of my worth. Rest is not a punishment, it’s a reward. I need to stop pushing through but honour my body’s limits and boundaries and treat it like the temple that it is.

About Jamieson Wolf

Jamieson an award winning, number-one bestselling author. He writes in many different genres. Learn more at www.jamiesonwolf.com
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