Doing What We Can Each Moment, Each Day

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

July 28th, 2009 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

I have the goal of getting to bed early and waking up early, starting each day with dance and a bike ride to the beach or dance and a visit to my gym. But sometimes, OK lots of times, my health issues interfere with my ability to carry out my days as I’d like. Which becomes a vicious cycle, because the earlier I can get up and start a healthy routine, the better I feel and vice versa.

Take last night. I went to bed early enough to start this early morning routine today, but woke up much earlier than I’d planned – oh, about 3 am – with a scary head episode that I can’t quite describe. Basically it feels like I’ll go unconscious at any given moment.

So I drank water, ousted the heating pad from under my back, put an ice pack on my head, and called my mom – asking her to call every hour on the hour, to make sure I was still alive (and call 911 if I didn’t answer). By 7 am, I had also closed the windows and turned on the air conditioning, and I was feeling stable and safe enough to sleep uninterrupted.

Then I basically passed out until noon. So much for starting my day early.

I called a close friend, who has chronic pain and other chronic conditions, to get some support around my frustration. She called me back in the middle of a meltdown at Whole Foods. She has a million eating limitations and was just at the end of her rope with all the struggles and challenges she faces every single meal. I helped her zone in on the few food groups she can eat, then helped her think about how to mix & match them in new, exciting ways so as to get out of the humdrum syndrome.

I advised her to take cashews — one of the four nuts she hadn’t eaten in a while – and mix them with sesame seeds and as many colorful, fun cooking vegetables as she could find (she usually eats raw veggies). I then advised her to take 1 Tbsp of sesame oil and sauté the whole thing, adding a homemade tahini sauce (2/3 tahini, 1/3 fresh lemon juice, a little water) over the dish, along with some spices she usually doesn’t use.

Then I suggested she find the sexiest, yummiest fruits she could get her hands on – with lots of different colors – and make a fruit salad, adding cinnamon and cardamom and lemon juice to the mix.

Helping her focus and move forward helped me remember that I need to do my own mix & matching and that I need to do one step at a time. My friend kept freaking out about her food for the rest of her life, and I kept reminding her that she only needed to figure out the next meal. And then the next one.

And so it goes for my life too. Today has been weird – I’m still dealing with this headache, and I haven’t gotten out of the house yet, and I’m feeling generally disoriented and confused (and like I’m on a boat, which I guess is the residual feeling from being on several plane rides). But that’s just today. I’ll do the best I can, then try the 7 am wake-up thing again tomorrow. And the day after. Until I get into that rhythm on a regular basis. And I’ll feed myself love and encouragement until I do get it together.

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