Is Your Relationship with Pain Stopping You from Enjoying Life After 60?
Is pain a growing fear as you age? Is it part of your identity once you pass the sixty gate?
When I was ten years old, a boy swung a shovel with a rusty corner at a bee. I had just stooped down to the ground to pick something up. When I stood up, the shovel’s rusty corner came straight down into the top of my head. I was the pain. The pain was me. I was scared to death as a literal geyser of blood sprung out of my head, drenching my clothes.
My head felt like a hammer was pounding on it. Nothing existed except the pain that consumed me. You can probably relate to hurting your thumb or foot and it does not hurt too badly when you are busy doing things during the day. But when you lie down to go to sleep, the pain fills the room. You are consumed by it.
In my twenties, I trained in biofeedback to learn more about the mind/body connection, creating endorphins and relaxation skills. The adventure of entering into my own potential with the mind and body fascinated me. It was meant to be the catalyst for my personal journey into human potential.
Looking at Pain in a Positive Way
At 65, two years ago, it was getting difficult to walk with my enlarged bunion on the right foot. Since it was necessary to succumb to surgery, I wanted to tap my mind/body resources and human potential. The idea of walking into the surgery center with a feeling of dread was not appealing. After some research, it became obvious that setting a positive stage for surgery was optimal for successful results.
The day prior to surgery I felt the dread of it. Fun movies were lined up to watch during recovery. In addition, I planned to complete my self-help memoir, “The Grandma Boom Chronicles…More Alive at 65!” You know that sensation that arises when you don’t want to do something but there is no choice? That is what was pulling me down. I wanted to be up so I needed a plan.
I had to do something outrageous to bring a positive surge and upliftment into my spirit. The intention was to create endorphins since they help reduce pain and create an internal environment that is soothing.
I realized it was my choice to either stick with the dread and have a normal morning before surgery or decide to do something I loved. And then it hit me. Why not try SUP, Stand Up Paddle boarding? The choice was obvious when I felt the upsurge of energy just thinking about SUP.
SUP always brings a feeling of freedom and joy. I feel strong when I get that kind of core exercise that also opens me to the heavens and keeps me grounded as I balance my body, becoming one with the movement of the water.
Post SUP I felt strong and happy before surgery. While out on the lake, I did not even think about the operation. It was an amazing way to prevent worry and dread. The endorphins started marching all over my body. I was smiling from head to toe.
When I arrived at the surgery center the receptionist looked at me with compassion and a caring voice, “Now, how are you doing?” I responded with nothing less than the voice of a cheerleader. “I am fantastic, thank you! I just got in the best mood to prepare for surgery and I am happy.”
The receptionist looked dumbfounded. “And what was that?” Explaining my view about being positive before surgery and going SUP, she looked a bit puzzled until it dawned on her that I had made a choice to have success, feel good and take responsibility in the healing process.
For decades I had been helping others learn to manage stress. I knew that research has shown the more tension generated when one is in pain, the more pain and suffering is created. Being calm and at peace, healing occurs more quickly because circulation is improved. Tension blocks and slows circulation.
Refusing to Be Consumed by Pain
Patience is required for healing thoroughly, as well as learning the balance of keeping a certain level of activity while not pushing too hard too fast. Expressing my creativity and formulating ways to keep a fun element in the healing process was essential for my spirit and personality. Yes, pain was present. But I was not my pain. It was a part of me at that time and a catalyst to practice health building skills to manage it instead of pain being in control of me. I refused to be consumed by the pain.
I decided to have as much fun in my recovery process as possible. Each time I went for a doctor’s check-up and got a glowing report, I celebrated with my boot that had to be worn for many weeks. Decorating it brought out the most of my enjoyment in the process and I felt rewarded as well as entertained. Being creative always moves energy in the upliftment direction.
Since the bunion surgery I’ve had total hip replacement surgery. One year post surgery I am doing everything I’ve ever done including swimming 20 laps several times weekly, hiking 2-3 miles regularly, dancing my buns off and playing with grandchildren.
For a brief demonstration of how to understand and work with pain healthily, check out this video with tips on pain control.
I am offering five free 15 minute phone strategy sessions for any area of life discomfort or blockage to gain an introduction to an uplifting self-help transformation. Offer expires on Nov 22, 2016. One session per applicant. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you focus on pain that is bothersome, or do you find ways to take your mind off it? Are you an active Googling enthusiast to seek out blogs, research, YouTube videos and helpful tips for the kind of pain you experience? What are your coping techniques for pain? Please share your suggestions for overcoming pain in the comments.
Janai Mestrovich aka “Grandma Boom” is a 40-year pioneer of kids’ television programming. She is an international speaker and the author of 7 books, including a self-help memoir, endorsed by Doris Day. Janai is a retired instructor with the University of Oregon who now helps older adults to find their creativity and engage with their passions. She is a proudly outrageous grandmother. You can read more about her work at Grandma Boom.