Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vulnerability as strength...

Regardless of the words we choose, recognizing and understanding our triggers is essentially the same as recognizing and understand our vulnerabilities, and this is a source of strength.  Vulnerability is not weakness.  Sometimes were are afraid that acknowledging that something exists is going to make it worse.  For example, if I acknowledge the being perceived as a good mother is really important and if I accept the fact that motherhood is a vulnerable issue for me, is the same around this issue going to grow?  No. T his is simply no true.  When we feel shame about an experience, we often feel some overwhelming combination of confusion, fear and judgement.  If it happens in an areas where we know we're vulnerable, we're much more likely to come out of that confusion, fear and judgment with an instinct about what we need to do to find support. (Dr. BrenĂ© Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me [But It Wasn't], p. 77)

I wouldn't have thought about it before my latest meltdown, but I am very vulnerable when it comes to being medically homeless.  I cannot express just how frightened I was to have a pacemaker installed without a GP.  My specialists stepped up and kept my maintenance medications going, but that did not assuage my fear or concerns.  I thought that January 26th would never come.  But it did.

Even though I now have appointments with my GP scheduled through the rest of the year, a move she made to make me feel more secure, being medically homeless once more was the driving fear when I heard that I would be losing my appointment.

When we experience shame we often feel confused, fearful and judged.  This make sit very difficult to access the awareness we need to evaluate our choices.  We're in a fog.  That's hose shame makes us powerless.  (p.78)

Throughout her book, Dr. Brown repeats things over and over again.  Here, you see she did from just one page before.  It is actually an educational approach I learned as "spiraling."  If you think of the shape of a vertical spiral, each curve dips back down into the one that came before it before expanding to the curve above it.

Racing to the GP's office, finally free from the train delay, I was confused and fearful and most definitely judged.  I had words of judgment spoken in my ears as to how I was being rude and such to other patients, with my patients, depriving them of their medical care, as well as wrecking my doctor's schedule.  I had past messages of being "bad" reverberating in my whole being and was fearful of my impending punishment.  And I was actually confused because I was not even yet late!  I was just trying to be considerate with my phone call and WHAM!  SHAME!!

The blessing that that day was, aside from being the first time I processed shame successfully and the first time I did not punish myself for melting down, is that I now know another area of vulnerability for me.

I admit that I fear I am some sort of junkie, terrified of losing access to my nausea medication and my pain medication.  I am not even taking anything for pain that is a narcotic, but Celebrex is for me what I suspect an opiod is for some.  And now add in the Gabapentin.  Although, I might possibly, now, place Zofran higher on my food chain than Celebrex.  The nausea is just so ... overwhelming.

Dr. Walther is giving me Gabapentin to try and address the nerve pain.  Certainly it has mitigated, to a rather large degree, the bee-stinging pain that has been in my pacemaker incision scar.  I still get felled with fresh pain there, but it is no longer constant.  Christ be praised for that!

I have progressed from taking 100 mg to 900 mg daily without any side effects.  For me, that is extraordinary.  But I believe I am only just begun on the journey of diminishing the nerve pain.  At least I hope that is the case.

Last night, for the first time, the flare of nerve pain began in my back.  As with every other flare, the pain in only on one side, this time the left side.  Burning pain.  Searing pain.  Fiery pain.  Pulsing pain.  It feels like someone is regularly poking me with a cattle prod.  I was up all of last night and have not napped today.  The pain is too overwhelming to sleep.

Usually, at least with all the flares to date, the pain is usually gone in four to seven days.  So, I know this will end.  I just ... I am just caught in the wash of this current wave of pain.  The last being the first few days of June and in my left forearm.  SIGH.

I like to read fantasy books.  Robert Jordan's  Wheel of Time series is a favorite of mine.  I admit that I skim some of the more scary parts, where the bad guys are conversing and engaging in terrible things, but as a whole I like the series.  Jordan created not just an entire world, but a world filled with various races, each with their own fully fleshed out cultures and histories.  One race, the Aiel, have this ... philosophy of embracing pain, if it comes your way, taking it in and making it your strength.

With the bouts of nausea, the writhing in abdominal pain, the nerve pain, and migraines, I try to do that, as hokey as it may sound.  But I have also, to my very small world of Facebook peeps, have also been speaking my pain and misery, caught in the throes of it and feeling frightened and alone.

I admit that doing so, that being vulnerable there, makes me feel weak.  I mean, NONE of my Facebook peeps do the same.  NONE of my friends do.  NO ONE I know personally posts such moments of nakedness.  Only Michelle Rogers, of the dysautonomia blog Living with Bob does so on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  [So brave is she!]  The day before this one, in the wee hours of the morning, the abdominal pain was especially fearsome.  I posted.  My friend Emily replied that she was praying.  Seeing her words really and truly helped me get through some of the worst moments that morning.  That is why I post even though I feel shame and weakness in doing so.

For most of us to successfully begin recognize and understand our shame triggers, we first need to accept that acknowledging our vulnerabilities is an act of courage.  We must be mindful in our attempts not to see vulnerability as weakness.  I'm very lucking when it comes to this difficult endeavor.  My mother taught me a tremendous lesson about vulnerability and courage.  In the late 1980s, my mom's only sibling, my uncle Ronnie, was killed in a violent shooting.  Just months after his death, my grandmother basically checked out mentally and emotionally.  Having been an alcoholic most of her life, my grandmother didn't have the emotional resources she needed to survive a traumatic loss like this.  For weeks, she roamed her neighborhood, randomly asking the same people over and over if they had heard about his death.

One day, right after my uncle's memorial service, my mom totally broke down. I had seen her cry once or twice, but I certainly had never seen her cry uncontrollably.  My sisters and I were afraid and crying mostly because we were so scared to see her like that.  I finally told her that we didn't know what to do because we had never seen her "so weak."  She looked at us and said, in a loving yet forceful voice, "I'm not weak.  I'm stronger that you can imagine.  I'm just very vulnerable right now.  If I were weak, I'd be dead."  In that split second, I knew my mom was probably the strongest, most courageous woman I would ever know.  She did more than give us permission to use the world vulnerable—she taught us that acknowledging our vulnerability is a true act of ordinary courage. (pp. 81-82)

I want to be more mindful of how I think about my vulnerabilities.

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