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Posts Tagged ‘Living Well with Chronic Pain’

Happy Therapy

My last trail ride was in the year 2000.  I thought it would be my very last, because I realized that a trot wasn’t the best way to treat what has since then developed into a seriously dicky lower back: with stenosis, scoliosis, pelvic arthritis, and ruptured discs—one of which required a surgical lumbar fusion. 

Decades of digging in gardens, lifting and pushing furniture around (with the exception of the piano—even I am not foolish enough to try and budge that!), carrying children and pets, packing and unpacking (as chief packer for twelve residence changes in sixty years), family genes, plus downright productive and joyous living have all taken their toll.

Then recently I heard about Therapy Riding, and the proximity of LifeStrider’s Therapy Riding Center close to our home.  What a breakthrough, for chronic pain.  The gentle, rolling motion of a walking horse (flanked by two people who make sure that horsey and I don’t take off in a trot or gallop) provides a soothing massage for the lumbar and sacral regions.  The chronic pain is eased for the time during and immediately following the ride.  I’ve only had one session so far, with five to go; perhaps the relief will increase with future rides.

My pain management doctor signed for me to do this six weeks’ program, one hour per week.  I’d like to give him a big hug, even though Medicare doesn’t pay for it!  (The therapy, not the hug.  But Medicare wouldn’t pay for the hug either.)  As my friend, Karen, would say—I’m “kicking age eighty in the head”.  Could there possibly be a better way to approach my soon-to-begin octogenarian adventure?  I don’t think so!!!  🙂

I do not often detail health issues on this blog, as http://richesinglory.wordpress.com/ is my outlet for the physical bumps and grinds of life and their ramifications.  But hey, lots of people have dicky backs, and Northern Reflections has more readers than Riches in Glory has.  For anyone who loves horses and lives with chronic pain, this is an incredible way to go: far better than a chiropractor, I believe—and definitely a lot more fun! 

The Therapy Riding movement has flourished in the USA since its inception in the early 1960s, and there are centers in many states.  If you are interested I encourage you to GOOGLE “Therapy Riding “, to discover what is available in your locale.  Perhaps relief and a whole lot of enjoyment are in store for you!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2013

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These two little guys are:  1) our son Karl, the one with the bare top, and 2) his boyhood friend, John.  The photo was taken in 1968.  I have an overflow of memories from those years, many fun (and some touching!) stories of all of our children.  One recollection that has surfaced frequently in recent years involves Karl when he was just a bit younger than depicted above.

He and another friend were busy in the neighbor’s back yard, piling up some rocks left over from a building project—when a rock slipped and sliced into Karl’s right hand.  The wound bled profusely, and required a dash to our local medical clinic.  Our daughter Debbie, then eight years old, was home recuperating from a flu bug, and she held Karl on her lap in the back seat.  (Obviously this was before children’s car seats were mandated.  Our children simply floated around in the back seats of vehicles, with their guardian angels on duty!)

I can still picture the scene I viewed in the rear view mirror as I drove:  Debbie in her pink and white quilted bathrobe, calmly holding Karl with his towel-wrapped hand pointing bolt upright in the air upon my request—in hopes of stopping the flow of blood.  Karl was just as calm as his sister.  We had kind of an unwritten policy when raising our children:  Don’t panic, don’t get into a flap!  Just do what needs to be done, as quietly and efficiently as possible!

Throughout the cleaning, stitching up, and dressing of the wound at the clinic, Karl never cried—in fact he scarcely changed the bland expression on his face.  Finally, when the job was done, the doctor said, “Okay, Karl.  You can go home now, but stay away from the rocks!”

At that, Karl suddenly burst into a deluge of tears and protested, “But I have to build things!” 

Today, at nearly fifty years old, Karl is still “building things”—writing computer programs for his life’s work, and singing in a chorus for a leisure-time hobby.

Karl’s rock story resonates with me, as I have always been a person who “has to (ardently wants to!) build things”—a home and family for my life’s work, and more leisure-time hobbies over the years than I have time to list at the moment.  Now that my body is aging and “glitching”, as many bodies do after decades of use, building something (a knitted garment, a hymn on the piano, a blog, a painting or collage, a bit of garden, a batch of soap, etc.) is more important and vital to my well being than every before. 

I’m realizing that creative interests are far more than entertainment, or a way to invest our leisure.  For me the creative occupations are a lifeline, a reason to keep on—a welcome and necessary diversion from whatever may be hurting physically or circumstantially!

Recently a friend, who has been blessedly healthy and pain free all of her life, discovered that she does indeed have a health issue which will need to be treated with surgery.  She asked me for input—knowing that I have “been there, done that”. 

In trying to encourage my friend, I mentioned the excellence of her medical resources and the fact that she would be kept as relaxed and comfortable as humanly possible during her hospital experience.  I stressed the benefits of her being able to rest and recuperate at home, while her diligent family cares for her—along with her involvement in post-op therapy.  

Finally I told caught myself telling my friend, “But for me the best therapy of all is making something.”  

I realize that my lifestyle of “making” is not for everyone, and I pray that I didn’t come off sounding preachy to my friend!  But that’s the chance we take, those of us who “have to build things“!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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