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On Pain

June 2, 2012

“Hi. My name is Sarah and I am in chronic pain.”

Two years ago – when things were quite bad – I went to a chronic pain support group. I thought there would be some interesting ideas on how to move and get around better, how to dress and cook easier. Instead it was…not that.  A wide variety of people are in chronic pain, and most in our little group craved only an audience. I want to move past it. It’s a fact of life, it isn’t going to change, so I know I have to be the one to change.

I won’t bore you with a detailed description of RA pain, except to say that it is different. And any of the aforementioned joints are up for grabs: shoulders, wrists, fingers, knees, feet all seem to take their turns accepting my ire, and depending on my medication cycle and current lifestyle choices, any number of them can thwart my days.  Sometimes just moving a joint is grounds for wincing, whereas other days (most days, actually) the pain is minimal. I wake up every day with throbbing feet and find almost immediate relief with a little massage, my wrists don’t like to move much, and my shoulders shriek if moved the wrong way.  Not life-altering, but just always…there.

The reason I’m writing about pain is that over the last few years my relationship to pain has altered. I’ve always had a high threshold for pain, but a low tolerance to withstand it. I can take a lot, but I hate it and I’m quite whiny and mopey when I hurt. But now it is a part of me, and the only time I ever felt no pain at all – hopped up on pain relievers after my knee surgery – I both loved it but felt a little hollow.

I knew when starting-sorta-thinking about running a marathon that a lot of work would have to be done on the arc trainers at the gym. Less impact on my knees, and you can set it to raise your knees which is perfect as I tend to be shuffler-runner. Unfortunately, I’m guessing because I have swelling in my toes, the arc trainer hurts. The other day I set out to go on it  for an hour, and found the pain started with the countdown clock at 57:00.  But I used my pushing-through-pain mindset and although my feet were screaming for the last 20 minutes, I made it through.  Which I think, in a way, makes training for a marathon a little easier.

Many people are taken aback when I tell them I’m training for a marathon. “But, you know, can your body take it?”  I actually think this body is more than equipped to deal with the aches and pains of long-distance running, because it’s used to dealing with a lot of aches and pains.

Running to your edge hurts. But pain? I can take it.

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