That’s the Technical Term

Posted: 17 July 2008 in therapy, work

When I’m stressed out, my shoulder clenches up, distracting me from what I’m doing and eliciting a sharp hissing intake of breath that could be loosely translated as oh my god, what is that piercing pain dividing my soul?  I’ve tried everything to get it to stop – even a visit to the doctor (“Don’t wear your bag on that side,” the normally rational physician said.  As if the tiny purse I carry twice a month might be rending my shoulder in two.)  Advil takes the edge off, but after awhile, I’ll have to take out a loan to afford my habit.  My former therapist asked me what weight I was carrying on my shoulders.  She was big on associating physical ailments with mental ones.  Your teeth ache?  What tough issue have you been chewing on lately?  Your knee hurts?  What big hurdle have you been jumping/climbing?  Your big toe throbs?  You must be tiptoeing around something.  The acupuncturist wanted to create a healing circle and the massage therapist said they were contraction knots.  Ever the intrepid searcher, the internet told me the technical term was “trigger points.”  As an aside, trigger points?  Seriously?

Could be my hair trigger nerves, that’s for sure.  Hair trigger because the slightest hint of stress sends my shoulder into one tight knot of sharp pain.  And that sets me on edge.  Could be that the piles of stress associated with changing jobs, moving to a new city, preparing to live without D for two months and wondering if I’ll be able to afford to live, period, are setting me a tad on edge.  Stressed?  Why? 

This leaves me with a couple of choices.  Cultivate a Hunchback of Notre Dame sashay (check).  Abuse unholy amounts of ibuprofen (check).  Adopt the dry needle method of poking trigger points into submission (um, ow?).  Or occasionally hit the gravy boat for some anti-anxiety pills.  What?  You don’t have a gravy boat?  Well, leftover prescription drugs hang out in our gravy boat (safely in their bottles people, until they expire.  It’s not like we’re using the gravy boat to slowly tranquilize the guests.  We have our scintillating conversation for that.) 

The gravy boat houses the anti-anxiety pills that make transcending creaking wooden stairs possible.  After being on a collapsing deck, the slightest creak paralyzes me into a cold, shaking, sweat.  It’s getting much better, but you can imagine the stifled laughter D. has to hold back when something makes a loud noise, I jump and the simultaneously grab my shoulder (hi, trigger points) in excruciating pain.  Good times, folks, good times.  But, aside from managing the PTSD, I’ve found the pills have an alternate purpose.  Judiciously applied, they have made this transition possible, without leaving me stranded drowning in a pitiful pool of inaction, sadness, anticipation and fear.

Lest you think I’m a drooling mess, I assure you, getting me to actually take the pill is a herculean feat.  But, it has been liberating to realize that there is a way to make what is practically impossible manageable, to take my multiplying, horrifying anxiety and tame it just enough to cope like I’m normal.  I don’t talk here much about the crazy, but still, it  comes around, pestering me when I least want it and burrowing into those trigger points until I pry it out with determination. 

That’s enough about my least attractive points, let’s hope being a librarian is easier.

  1. dylan says:

    Cheers to that. I hope life calms down for you soon. I wish I had a gravy boat. Sounds like a good time!

  2. rye says:

    Gravy boat? I love it! Just think of that great big sigh of relief when things finally get settled back to “normal.” Well, a newer “normal,” anyways.

  3. linaria says:

    It’s not like we’re using the gravy boat to slowly tranquilize the guests. We have our scintillating conversation for that.

    wait, you have guests?!

  4. backlist says:

    we totally had guests. and we enjoyed them – so rare 🙂
    friends, here’s to good gravy.

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