Saturday, June 5, 2010

An Irrational Body

I can feel my shoulders trying to curl inward and downward. I can feel my back muscles pulling against my spine, twisting it sideways. My body knows that it is in pain and doesn't understand why I am moving around and doing chores. It just wants me to stop. But sitting down just makes things worse as my body tries to avoid putting pressure on my broken tailbone or dislocated ribs. And even laying down, my muscles twist and turn and attempt to find some position where nothing aches. But it doesn't work. There is no position where there is no pain, and my body's attempts to find that elusive pain-free zone merely cause muscle ache and fatigue and pull my body out of alignment. I wake up in pain, I move in pain, I sit in pain, I live in pain. And about half of this pain is caused by my body's attempts to escape the pain.

I know that allowing my body to twist itself into a pretzel doesn't really help, but my body insists that it will. I have to constantly monitor my body and consciously straighten my back and pull my shoulders up and out and try to keep everything in its proper alignment. When I stop paying attention, my muscles surreptitiously contract and pull until I am twisted and hunched. Sooner or later I realize what has happened, usually when the muscles that have worked so hard to get me into this distorted position begin to realize their own pain. Then I have to convince my tired body to straighten itself out, to try and pull itself back into its proper alignment.

I carefully stretch and move about, persuading my muscles to loosen and relax. The tightness and cramps gradually release, and the muscle pain diminishes. Then I can go back to what I was doing. But even though the muscle pain has been relieved there is the still the pain of the broken and dislocated bones. And so, as soon as I stop paying attention, my body again starts to try to escape its pain. My muscles contract. My body twists and distorts. And soon I am in more pain than I was before.

It's a brutal cycle that makes no sense. And it leaves me feeling exhausted and helpless, trapped within an irrational body.

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