|Daffodils outside McConnell Heart Health Center yesterday|
The way things happen, this pain in my abdomen (near the old scar from a hernia repair six years ago) had slowly, slowly been emerging. Then this week, it began quickly quickly getting worse.
But I went in for my physical therapy yesterday (for the frozen shoulder, result of a fall and broken arm last September - and oh my, how healing drags on). This PT is very important to me; unless I keep at it, I will never have the strength and range of motion in this arm to play guitar again. I had recently grasped the unpleasant truth that a frozen shoulder is loosened up only by enduring pain regularly. Every day at home, too. That's it. I take a pain pill before I go, and it still hurts to the max.
PT is very intimate, someone working with your body and caring about it. I get to liking these people a lot. Back when I was first getting lymphedema massage (post-breast cancer in 1997), I used to talk talk to the therapist and then cry, though that kind of PT didn't hurt much. It was like crying in shavasana, after yoga; you relax, it's a safe situation, the tears and healing chemicals just leak out.
Afterward I went over to make an appointment with my doctor. When I told Katie what the problem was, she talked to someone, and said they'd take me right in. I started to remember how awful it was when the last hernia burst through - this is really extraordinary pain, and demanded flight to the ER and emergency surgery.
It was a new doctor - my usual Saint, Jason Dapore - was off. This John Diehl was every bit as sharp and focused. He poked my abdomen while I stood, then had me lie down, then had me tense the muscles. Ouch! marked the exact spot, I can feel the little protrusion there now. Just like last time. Then they wrapped me in nice wide elastic, gave me two extra elastics, and set up a CT scan for Monday morning. (I always get sick on Friday.)
But here's what made me want to write about this. In the course of questioning me, the new doctor learned that I am still being treated for shingles, and the shoulder, and that we are exploring the question of surgery to remove my old kidneys, which may be harboring infection. He said quietly, "You really have a lot going on." Writing that, tears came to my eyes again.
That's what I wanted to write about. It seems I'd been being brave and matter-of-fact about all this because that's how I was conditioned in my alcoholic family: never show weakness. After the doctor left the room, to my surprise, I started to cry. Yes, I really do have a lot going on, and my left ankle's been aching again, too. I felt my insides - my heart - soften, my whole being softened toward myself. I thought, That's the power of compassion. Someone noticing. Listening. Affirming your reality. It felt like an important spiritual experience to soften where I didn't know I was hard. And to feel physically how much even a light touch of compassion can mean.