I’m having a new pain today. It started last night. This post is being written by a pain distracted mind 😐🧚🏼♂️🌱💚.
A new pain? That is a different issue.
I’m having a new pain. Having had pain, noticeable pain that was severe or “remarkable enough to remember” pain, since grade ten, I’m accustomed to “all the time” pain. A new pain? That is a different issue.
Long-term, chronic pain can be attuned for. I first noticed my chronic pain during my sophomore year. My “forever pain” spot is my lower back (the facet joints and medial branch nerves from L3-S1). The right side always a little more painful than the left. My brain is literally taking me into my anatomy right now. Weird.
In tenth grade, I went to a boarding school in Fletcher, North Carolina. (I was raised Seventh Day Adventist, we had schools…) The academy had a policy that every student work four hours daily, Monday thru Thursday. The wage that we earned went towards our tuition, whether our parents could afford the fee in full or not. Everyone worked. I was assigned to the laundry department. There was a hospital and nursing home proximal to, and operated by, the Seventh Day Adventist church, and we were employed in support of them. I worked folding sheets.
I began to notice that when I leaned into a large laundry bin, I was feeling discomfort in my lower back when standing back straight. It wasn’t necessarily pain, however still remarkable. I hadn’t taken an anatomy class yet, and didn’t have a knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, or pathophysiology, for that matter. I did remember that in grade six, when they check the classes for scoliosis, my mom was called in and instructed to take me to a specialist, who in turn told her I was fine. (I did have mild curvature in my lower spine with twisting, I later learned). I dismissed the discomfort.
My issues with discomfort continued and after a couple weeks, I reported it to my dorm dean. My work hours were transferred over to the nursing home, dust mopping hallway floors. It was the correct thing for them to do, in my opinion; it was a simple recurring discomfort, not pain. Still, I was moved to something less physically stressful. For this, I was taunted by my classmates from time to time. These schools have small class sizes. If you lived on campus, you knew everybody in the school. I often heard “Jaime faked her back hurting so she didn’t have to work laundry”, in not so nice of fashions. This was exasperated by the Seventh Day Adventist belief that the body is a temple. There is an emphasis on physical strength and well-being. This manifests into a healthy diet and an emphasis on tumbling and acrobatics being taught in the schools. Having been involved in gymnastics since childhood, the last thing I would “fake” would be something that would keep me from tumbling.
There has been a rumor at Fletcher Academy, for a decade or more, that “Jaime Renee Cruz” got kicked out. This, of course, is nowhere near factual, but perhaps a little amusing. It used to bother me that my own family believed this rumor, but I no longer struggle with it.
The Rumor: “The rumor I’ve heard is that you got kicked out of Fletcher Academy because you snuck out of the girls’ dorm and snuck into the boys’ dorm and you were walking down the hallway and walked past Uncle Kenny”. This is as it was recounted to me by my own niece, Shelbi.
The Truth: During the first quarter of my junior year, Jenny Yates and I snuck out of the girls’ dorm to see our boyfriends. There are no dirty details. We walked down by the athletic fields and talked. Jenny and I got caught sneaking back in. We were “room bound” for a week. Grounded. The acrobatics tryouts were to be held during the time I was room bound. I was told I would not be able to participate with the acrobatics team due to not being present at tryouts. This upset me. I spoke to my sister, felt she wasn’t very kind, called my mom, said I wanted to come home, flew home and resumed my junior year in Cape Coral, Florida. Phew..
The Truth I’ve Never Shared:
This truth requires a small set-up.
When I lived in Brandon, I was in the orchestra, first chair cello, loved my friends and school. Orchestra was a big thing in Brandon. For real, the cool kids played strings, and I was first chair in junior high. Senior high was set to be great! My parents moved our family from Brandon to Winter Haven before I had the opportunity to attend Brandon Senior High, or maybe Bloomingdale would have been opened the year I was to move up. Anyhow, we moved and I pulled back from the cello after another year. There was no orchestra at Fletcher, at that time, anyhow.
Setup complete, on to the real truth.
I was having discomfort in my back and had zero intention of telling anyone my junior year, for fear of not being able to be on the acrobatics team. I knew I couldn’t attend another year and be shut out of my high school passion. When they decided to not show me this forgiveness (the same forgiveness I was taught in Sabbath School every Saturday morning of my life,) there was no longer anything for me at Fletcher. I did not get kicked out, I left. I truly felt let down by Fletcher and the “Christians” in the SDA church community that existed there. This may have been the first time my faith in humanity took a solid hit 😔.
Since I arrived at Cape Coral High a quarter into the school year, it was too late to truly get involved with much my junior year. I did try out for the dance line and was on the “Sea Starrs” my senior year. This time I couldn’t ignore my back. The discomfort had limited my range of motion. It was no longer discomfort, it was pain. I had to quit the dance line half-way through the year, and I started seeing a chiropractor. This is when we learned that I had scoliosis. It was stated that the strength of my back muscles, from gymnastics, prevented my spine from curving further. I’ve never asked if that is really something physically possible 🤷🏻♀️.
This brings us back to my reason for starting this post. I have a new pain. It started last night. My mind has spelled it out quite vividly for me to visualize. I’ll try to relay the image – The erector spinae muscles along the right side of my spine have become spastic. I’m not having muscle spasms in the form of a cramp or the little spasms we get here and there. This feels like a muscle has been twisted spirally enough times and is now tight and is pulling up on my iliac crest, or wherever that muscle connects, and that’s the pain I’m feeling. I know how to adjust my body mechanics, relatively quickly without thought, to tolerate known pain. A new or different pain demands my full, undivided attention, until I find some level of relief.
This new pain made its first appearance last night, and doubled down this morning (causing some annoyance and depression.) This sparked the thought process about why new or different pains require more of our attention than older, known pains, in my experience. Then comes depression.
Will I ever experience twenty-four hours without pain again?