Friday, August 21, 2015

The mobiusity of it all..

"Pain is an all-consuming interior experience that threatens to destroy everything except itself and can only be described through metaphor" ~ Biro 2010. Quote from Mike Stewart's blogpost, BEYOND WORDS

Sometimes we're up, sometimes we're down.
Sometimes we have pain, sometimes we don't.
Whether we're on the painfree side of the line or not (and all of us, or at least virtually all of us, will end up having tasted both sides), we still have to keep on doing life. What is life? Walking around on that mobius strip until we die, I think..
We're all here together, doing life, doing time, until our time is up.
And no matter where you go, there you are. 

I made this image inspired by a conversation on Facebook, with Mike Stewart of KnowPain, and Joletta Belton, of MyCuppaJo

Here is the conversation. LINK.

Part of it was about the word "management", which I have an instinctive dislike toward.
If I have pain, I do not want it "managed" by anyone but me, thank you very much.
If I am a provider of help for pain, I don't want to "manage" your pain - that's your job - I want to help you/you nervous system to learn your/its way out of it if I possibly can. 

But if I can't, I can't. It should be clear within one or two sessions if anything I do helps or doesn't help.


I've met Jo in person, just a few weeks ago in San Diego. We dined out with Rajam Roose at a lovely restaurant, beside a large pond alive with huge goldfish. 

Joletta Belton (nearest), and me (across the table), San Diego, August 2015

She takes absolutely gorgeous pictures of nature, wild and free. She is keenly interested in pain. She ended up with some of that herself, through circumstance.


I have not had the pleasure of meeting Mike yet, in person, only on twitter and facebook. He caught my attention the other day with a post about metaphor, how pain, that uniquely private interior experience, is understood or shared metaphorically, and therefore demands a creative response. His slide contained cultural contrast in metaphor to do with headache. The "west" or English language, and therefore mindset, is all aggressive and warlike and as he puts it "mechanistic and invasive" with descriptors such as stabbing/ shooting/ lancinating/ pounding/ burning/ crushing/ pinching. Some Japanese metaphor he offered up from The Story of Pain by Joanna Bourke, were by contrast, "natural and environmental" - comparing pain to an animal, e.g., an octopus headache (sucking) or a bear headache (like heavy steps of a bear).  I liked the Japanese metaphors - way less personal somehow. More space around the pain. More detached.
I realized, yet again, on the one hand, how hard it is to describe a pain to anyone else, and on the other, how culturally embedded metaphors are. 

Yes, I do think English is a war-like language. 
So many nouns, so few verbs.

Pain is a verb, not a noun. Well, OK.. it's a verb that is pretending to be a noun. It tries to stop one from moving, is what it does.


About being a pain carer, a carer of others in pain.. I really really get that pain is entirely personal. I've been there. I really really get that it's massively important to leave people with hope, AND locus of control. I really really get that the pain they have is theirs and theirs alone.  I think I get a bunch of other stuff too, about how the nervous system evolved as a biological learning app. When I have one in my hands, I do try, as well as I possibly can, to communicate appropriately with every level it has to offer, from the most abstract to the most kinesthetic, trying to help it feel seamless again.


Another inspiration to write a blogpost came today via Pain-Ed. A wonderful video of Keiran O'Sullivan sitting with a woman he treated, who fell and broke her coccyx. I was riveted the whole time as she told her story. Definitely worth a good listen.

What I got from this was: 
1. Don't ever become addicted to stress. And yes, stress can be addictive. The money-chasing type of stress is the worst, because then if you fall on your tailbone and it breaks and you are in pain, you can't work as hard, which, if you are addicted to making a lot of money by working really hard, is doubly stressful because hello? now all of a sudden you feel impoverished on top of everything else!
2. She went to a pelvic floor therapist who made her worse by asking her to tighten harder. Pelvic floor therapists are wonderful, but I would pick mine very carefully, because they have to know who to teach tightening to and who to teach relaxing to.
3. It sounds like almost everyone she went to see for help treated her as a "condition", not as a person. She needed help as a person, so that she could deal with her condition, not the other way around. 

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