Driving with the Handbrake On

Last week I read an interview with Bono that enquired about his recent ‘health scare’. (I’m not sure how recent) In the interview he declined to discuss the issue because he felt it a bit rich for a wealthy white westerner to be complaining about ‘health problems’ when around the world millions are dying from preventable causes and do not have access to health care. Fair call.

I have felt similar over the last 12 months as I’ve battled a disturbing and chronic health problem that I can’t seem to resolve. Honestly – my life is pretty damn good. I don’t want for anything, and I’m very content with all parts of where we are at, so to complain about a small problem has felt a bit indulgent. That’s why I haven’t said anything.

But if you’ve wondered why this blog has been so neglected then this might help to explain. Back in January 2017 I developed a problem in my butt. I thought it was a haemorrhoid and I ignored the pain for a bit but when it didn’t go away I went to see the Doc. By this point it felt like strong pressure from inside my butt pressing out – like I needed to go to the toilet – but I actually didn’t…

So it was off to have a colonoscopy to make sure it wasn’t cancer (nope) and then from there it was ‘diagnosis by elimination’. It seems I have developed chronic pelvic pain – a constant spasm of the inner pelvic muscles that results in a really sore butt – a literal pain in the arse…

People describe it as like having a golf ball stuck up your bum… It’s an accurate description – (although I have never actually put a golf ball up my butt before)  It means sitting is uncomfortable and sore. Walking isn’t so bad. But I just can’t sit still for any length of time without squirming in pain.

When I say ‘pain’ maybe 2-3 on the pain scale so hardly the end of the world, but enough to distract me from anything I am doing.

It has taken its toll on all of my activities that involve sitting still for extend periods of time – writing being one of them. It has improved a little bit over the year and I have tried various means to deal with it – physio, stretching, meditation, none of them particularly effective. Google suggests some people acquire this problem and are never able to resolve it – yeeha… So going out to dinner with friends has been hard, driving has been hard, being at church has been hard… just relaxing has been really difficult. And being unable to resolve it has been hardest.

I have never had mental health issues, but this year I’ve had to make a conscious effort to stay positive and not to be overtaken by despair. Part of that is knowing that some people I know have far worse issues than I do and get thru. Part of it is that life just requires me to press on and keep getting things done. It’s given me a level of empathy for those who struggle with ongoing pain that I previously wouldn’t have had. I think that is a good thing, but I’m pretty weary from it now…

So this year has been like driving with the handbrake on – looking at a sunny day thru scratched lenses – whatever metaphor works for you. I can still do everything but it’s been restricted and as a result I feel like I haven’t achieved as much or been effective in what I have done. It has been hard to sit and think and write and reflect like I used to without giving up and going to lie on my bed. Most evenings I leave the lounge room around 8 and lie on our bed because it eases the discomfort, but it also takes a toll on family dynamics.

I’m not sure if 2018 will see this issue resolved or whether I will just keep ‘learning new things…’

I hear botox can help so that is possibly my next port of call, but in the meantime I just carry on.

The hardest part has actually been my struggle to think ahead and to see the future because I have become consumed with the immediate – relief of discomfort. As someone who likes to think ahead and plan the future that has been frustrating and dis-orienting.

So – this isn’t a ‘poor me post’. Really its not. I have hesitated to even write this – not because its ‘personal’, but because I’m really not suffering like some folks suffer and I’m writing this from the comfort of a big chair on my balcony on a balmy summer night in Yanchep. Life is good. But a part of it sucks right now. As I’ve talked to friends over the year about what they have been struggling with I’ve wondered if I’d swap my ‘problem’ for theirs and often the answer is ‘for sure’, but the reality is that a problem free / pain free life isn’t gonna happen for anyone so sometimes we need to learn how to live with pain.

I was chatting with my mate Scott today about hiking (his thing) and how sometimes it happens in cold and rain and ugly weather and that sometimes it really sucks – but sometimes you just have to ’embrace the suck’.

Right now I’m trying to ’embrace the suck’, learn from it, grow in it, but I’m also hopeful that things will change this year and I’ll be back to normal – or at least something else will suck 🙂

So if you’re wondered ‘what happened to Hamo blog?’ then this might help explain… (And the image above – the evening sunset in Yanchep – is completely unrelated except as a reminder that we live in a beautiful place and life is very very good.

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