Wednesday, 18 May 2011

mindful body

One of the things I keep thinking about,and feel I could blog about, is living this life of mine, in which I have to manage constant pain. Because that is simply how my body is. I can't remember having no pain in my body, ever, though I know I must have as a child. 

We have a genetic condition in the family, which we inherit from Howard C Rowe, my great grandfather.

Howard C Rowe

In most of the slim strand of women descended from him, it manifests itself in very brittle bones.

My lovely Mum,
Mum with Dad in their youth
 dear Ganna, my second mother, once Dad was gone
Ethel H Lomer, nee Rowe
Great Aunt Connie, whom I barely remember, but whose strong personality lingers in family tales
A Constance Rowe
all had this life inhibiting fragility. They fell, they broke. Simple as that.

I and my daughter Jen, who is 25 this year, are the lucky ones, we don't break. But we do hurt. If we jarr our bodies, we often injure muscle or tendon and that takes forever to heal. If we leapt slightly awkwardly as children, we tore, or bruised really badly. For years I have been restricted to nothing faster than brisk walking pace, I know a muscle may tear if I move more quickly. But our bones don't break, which is a Good Thing.

And I still have dreams about running!

This does mean, though, that we hurt most of the time. Not screaming agony type hurt - though occasionally it gets a bit exciting, just nagging, every move you make, grinding sort of hurt, day by day, in all the usual suspect places. So we have to manage it. I try, each day, to keep part of my focus on moving in ways that minimize the damage. I try to hold this focus not in a life restricting way, but accepting that there are things I simply should try to avoid doing. I absolutely exclude gardening from this list of things, but I garden very carefully, as I've talked about before!

There are also things that I, that anyone can do, to support this fragility. I took advantage of training offered by the local physio department on using core muscles to support bad backs. I listened and carried the advice away into life, not enough admittedly, but some. I focus on supporting movement with those muscles, as often as I am mindful to. Simple things like getting out of a chair, tying a shoelace, benefit from this sort of focus: from remembering to cradle the back carefully with those muscles, just before you move. Things which we often do mindlessly, I try to be mindful of.

The mindful bit comes from Buddhism, from the writings of various good souls much wiser than me, and is about recognizing the value of being alive, and trying to use the hours, minutes, seconds, that we are truly awake to, in a meaningful, life affirming way. remembering that even though your back is really, really sore, there are still good things to notice about simply being alive!

I could ramble more about this - I'd rather not preach - but I may return to it from time to time.


  1. I like the advice to live a mindful life.

  2. thank you Gina, always much harder in practice than theory, but it does help in my little world!