The past month has been a problematic period. I have spent considerable time attempting to understand my reactions to events. Because of this, I have dispensed with the prior format and am going to try and put recent events in perspective.
First, the positive:
Despite a series of winter snow storms, I managed to walk 122 miles in February. This is a major improvement over the 2 miles recorded in February of 2015 (See the Walk Data Summary table here). The February mileage, added to the 175 miles walked in January, results in a year-to-date count of 299 miles.
I have been fearful of a recurrence of the severe arm pain experienced in January and February of last year. I thought this pain might be triggered by the exertion required to shovel snow. I lack upper body strength and snow removal is tiring and difficult. Given the significant volume of snow in February – local records were broken – this is especially true. There has been no evidence of arm pain despite the upper body workout imposed by repeated shovelling of heavy wet snow from around the car, and clearing several feet of ice and snow from the two balconies.
Since there is no diagnosed cause for this pain, I have been taking care to ensure a varied diet with a focus on obtaining required micro-nutrients: eggs and dairy for vitamin D, together with dietary supplements for B, D and C, plus fish oil capsules, lots of avocado, raw greens, and a magnesium / calcium supplement. Who knows if any of this does any good. I would practice voodoo if Baron Samedi kept the pain in remission. So far, so good. All fingers crossed.
The Less Positive:
The problem is I remain uncertain as to the trigger events, and the root cause. What follows constitutes my best guess estimate.
In mid-January I experienced an increased level of imposed demands. This commenced with the failure of the car battery resulting in the need to shop for a battery charger and incidental parts. I have not gone shopping for quite some time. In the years since the accident, I have shopped for nothing apart from food. Wandering round a big hardware store with lots of shiny stuff on sale resulted in a sudden burst of shopping. My interpretation is that the rediscovery of shopping serves as a proxy method for obtaining an increased sense of control over my life.
Food costs have doubled. This is due to price increases, the utilization of a food reward system, more frequent food buying as I no longer enjoy use of the car to haul everything home (see paragraph RO-8 here), plus I was buying a greater range of fresh food items in a proactive attempt to prevent the return of the pain. During these shopping events, I realized I was responding to the sense of discretionary control the activity provided. I have little control over the injury, my error rate, or the TAQ process. I can exert control over the purchase of canned clams for chowder.
At some deep level the sudden surge in consumption behaviour represents a psychological response to current events. But what serves as the key trigger event?
It may have something to do with an acknowledgement of the likely permanent nature of the injury, the fact “The injury will not disappear from my life just because a judge issues a ruling. That is hard to accept. I become even more downcast thinking of this outcome.” (post here).
To this point, I have believed in an ability to exert control over injury outcomes. I will modify my diet, gobble supplements, splash out on broccoli and avocado, treble, or quadruple, my exertion levels, force myself into writing thousands of words, and all of this activity is undertaken based on the belief it will influence the injury outcome. This belief structure evaporated in mid February. My present behaviour represents an attempt to address the loss of this belief.
The January post Winter Difficulty marks this turn of events. I suspect the key turning point was this incomplete post which presently sits in draft. I have discussed the content with both Dr. H, and Dr. D. They are in agreement with respect to the basic premise. Despite the existence of a finished draft, despite my several discussions with my doctors, I have been unable to bring myself to complete this post sequence.
The first detailed report of a problem comes with the January 29th post Letting Go. My psychological reaction was such that I was unable to complete the January End of Month Review.
The first post in February begins the attempt to unpack events: “Both letters contain 3rd party descriptions of the person I presently am. I do not wish to acknowledge this person. I do not wish to accept the fact of the injury.” The six points in the summary section of this February 1st post encapsulate my understanding. I suspect that I am still attempting to come to terms with this understanding mixed with varying degrees of success and denial.
The general outcome is as follows:
- An inability to summon the psychic energy to complete a final TAQ submission
- A down state which I am able to moderate somewhat by reliance on walk therapy
- A sense of “pointlessness” as described in paragraph six and eight here.
- A subconscious increase in “shopping behaviours” in an attempt to reassert a sense of control.
- A growing sense of acceptance as described in detail in the last paragraph of a February 15th post here.
- Exploration of my resistance to further TAQ submissions as found in paragraph six of a February 16th post here.
In a recent meeting with Dr. H, she offered the insight that I am treating these events as “all or nothing.” On the one hand there is the prospect of a full recovery of my pre-injury state; on the other hand there is an end of life phase in which I am condemned to live out my days with a chronic impairment. I have not yet been able to find the middle ground between these two opposing views. Dr. H asked if I had any thoughts of what I might wish to do. I blurted out I wanted to grow herbs on the balcony. Not sure where this idea came from. I have found seed packets and garden tools during the recent clean up. On reflection, I think this “balcony herb farm” idea represents another measure of control. Like walking, and blogging, it is a low demand activity, one which is fairly impervious to error. I suspect I have a strong bias toward activities that will be hard for me to screw up.
What I need to do is to complete the summary submission to TAQ. I am having a difficult time summoning the psychic energy to complete the TAQ work. I am resistant to once again having to exert all of that effort when I do not believe there will be one scintilla of return. Nonetheless, I feel I should force myself into the work. Writing this post represents a sneaky attempt to bring myself back to the threshold of document production.
Links to Prior Review Pages
Initial Task Review
October EOM Review
November EOM Review
December EOM Review
January EOM Review
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