Maybe it's because we think we are invincible, or we just haven't been paying much attention to the subtle changes our bodies made over the years, but it's tough to slow down long enough to listen to what they are telling us. The slightest whisper easily turns into a cacophony, if we don't get the foreshadowing our bodies are wittingly laying out for us. For some of us, it is hard to face that we can't do some of the same things we did in our 20s. There seems to be a modified version for everything... a wild night out, an exercise move or stretch, letting loose. We are sore when we get up in the morning, take a few days to recover after a really late night out (wasn't this a 12 hour recovery time when we were 21?!), and take longer to recover from an injury or a cold.
For years, I have been utilizing the services of physical therapists, massage therapists, mental health therapists, coaches, and of course western medicine doctors. For those of you who've lived with chronic pain, you understand the gnawing, throbbing reminder that greets you first thing in the morning, checks in with you in the afternoon, and says "Don't worry, I'm still here" at bedtime. The pain became a part of my life. I worked around it, dropping exercise classes, only going to low impact dance classes, readjusting my body in the car several times on a short drive, using props, creams, heating pads, ice packs, gels, drugs, and just about everything out there. I developed a work-around and for a long, long time it worked.
Last week, after a two-month run of low grade headaches and neck pain, I decided to try acupuncture. I'd had enough. I was on a mission to fix whatever it was that was causing me to want to rip out my neck, head, jaw, and upper back and replace it with brand new parts. I guess I hadn't been really listening to what my body was trying to tell me, but now I was. I met with a woman named Holly at an integrative medicine clinic near my house. She was the first person I've ever encountered who took the time to learn about my health history. She was genuinely interested in my aches and pains, and the strange incidents from my past that western doctors would explain away with a pat on my shoulder and the words "You're fine. You're too young to have any health issues." In Holly's presence, I felt heard. She was listening with full curiosity, like an investigator looking for patterns. During my first treatment, my neck and head pain went away. I couldn't believe it. She attributes the pain and odd incidents to an imbalance in my body and blocks in various places. It makes sense. The body is well.. all connected, yet western medicine focuses on each part often ignoring its very close and important neighbors. This 'unblocking' has given me my mojo back. I feel motivated to take control of my health which includes listening for signs that I'm stuck, blocked, sick, tired, overwhelmed, or just not right.
Sometimes we need big signs, really big bricks that fall on our head to make us listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us. While I was pretty good at making all sorts of accommodations to suit my ever increasing aches and pains so that no one would suspect - and most importantly I could ignore them - I now know that it's not normal to feel like that all the time. With this new tuning instrument activated within me thanks to acupuncture, I now intend to be listening more closely and to settle for nothing less than feeling good. I may not be in my 20s anymore and doing everything at full speed, but I'm much smarter, happier, and now feeling more balanced.
Listen to what your body is telling you. Take it seriously. Stay in motion and rest when you are tired. If you aren't getting the answers that help you feel confident about your health, go somewhere where they will listen and work with you to find out what you need to feel good. Listen for the signs, and take action.
Until next time,