Chronic Pain, Work, and Simplifying Life

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Lately life has been quiet, simple, and focused. Each week I look at the schedule laid out in front of me: three days of work and perhaps a doctor’s appointment or meeting on one of my days off. Each week I make careful plans that will get me through the days without flaring or relapse. Each week I carefully rest to make sure I can make it to work.

I am learning that everything about my life has to be done in a careful way to keep moving forward. Most times I need to err on the side of caution as I add things into my schedule, decide how many PT exercises I am going to do, and whether or not I can handle a walk on any given day.

My mind has been so focused on being disciplined in this way that other things are being put to the side. When I am not at work I am sleeping, resting, doing an easy or mindless activity, or reading. Sometimes reading for pleasure, and sometimes reading to learn. And I find that I have had little to write about these days.

I think my mind has just needed a break from putting words out into the world and wanting more space to be filled up with new ideas and learning. I have been spending more time reading, watching video lectures, and doing online research. Thinking and daydreaming about the things I learn and how I can put them into practice for myself and use them in my counseling.

Mostly I am just focused on making this new job work. I am focusing on making small changes in my life that make the extra hours possible. Often it is the little ways of saving energy that add up, and so far I have been able to shift things around enough that I am not expending more energy than before, I am just allocating it differently.

Working more has been a matter of simplifying the other parts of my life so that these extra hours at work are possible. This would not have been possible with where my health was a year ago. There was no extra energy to shift around. But I have just a little more to play around with for the time being.

So, instead of going to the grocery store, I now have my groceries delivered. All of our household essentials and hygiene products are delivered by Amazon.

I make a huge pot of soup or a large casserole on Saturday and it feeds us throughout the week. I use crockpot recipes and meals that take only a few minutes to prepare.

For now, I have set aside hanging out with friends or going out for fun.

The house stays messy and the laundry remains unfolded, transitioning from the clean basket to the dirty basket and then repeat.

Our apartment has been simplified and minimalized so there is little to organize or clean. Most everything has a place and I try my best to put things back when I am done.

I ask for help more often and I say no to things I cannot handle. I scrimp and I save my energy, putting it towards the things that matter most for the time being.

This is not how I want to live for the rest of my life, but I am ok with it for now. This is a means to an end – getting my license which will open up a multitude of options for me in the future. And so for now I will keep focusing on these little things, these little changes that are making my new job possible.

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