When everything seems like a mess, keep perspective on what’s important

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

August 23rd, 2010 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

I have had one hell of a two week run: On Wednesday August 10, my apartment company launched a demolition and construction project in the apartment beneath me, with no prior notice. When they threw out what appeared to be a sink, tossing it from the second floor landing to the steel garbage can below, the explosive crash caused an injury to the nerves in my ear and throughout my head – leaving me in horrific pain and unable to function for days.

On top of that, I couldn’t retreat, lay low, and focus on self-healing, because the demolition and construction continued. Considering that following the injury, even the sound of cracking eggs was causing me pain, the banging below was intolerable. Wearing earplugs was anything from impossible to uncomfortable for a while, because given the hypersensitivity caused by the injury, I could not tolerate the pressure in my ears. I ended up a café refugee but had a hard time functioning there as well, given that the sound of dishes clanging or people talking was causing me terrible pain.

On Thursday, August 11, I was informed that the painter was coming the next day. Fortunately, with some self-advocacy on my part and compassion on the part of the head carpenter, I was able to postpone it until after the weekend. In addition, that morning, I was able to tolerate earplugs; so I turned on the air conditioning and was able to pull off a much-needed, restorative, 16-hour sleep.

On Saturday, things were looking up following a delicious cranio-sacral appointment in my very own living room, and I felt I was on my way to recovery. Then on Sunday, I had a conversation that brought up the whole “bad things keep happening to you” backlash I’d gotten over the years when sharing my story. I was feeling vulnerable to begin with, so I ended up highly triggered and, as an upshot, an emotional wreck.

I felt too shaky to drive to teach class that night but did it anyhow. Fifteen minutes into the class, nobody had showed up, and I felt terrible anxiety and self-doubt — of the will-my-business-fail variety. Then a student showed up in horrific pain; I taught what was quite possibly the best class ever; the student was completely pain-free from the class; and she expressed a deep and heartfelt gratitude for my creating the space and offering the guidance to self-heal. I left on cloud 9, knowing that even if I can affect one person’s life like that, all my efforts have been worth it.

I took myself to the gym for some R&R in the jacuzzi and ended up being visually stalked by a woman with creepy energy – which unnerved me again. That night, I decided to hell with financial concerns. I just needed to have a quiet place where I could get grounded, do work, and rest, so I decided to check myself into the Marriott in Marina Del Rey – where I could walk on the beach when taking breaks from working. I saw it as a mini-vacation.

I tried waking up at 6 am, to get out of the apartment before the painters came, but I was so tired that I ended up pressing snooze for four hours straight and sleeping shittily as a result. Finally I got out of bed and made my way to the hotel. Not only did it end up being a different property than I thought (it was a Courtyard Marriott, instead of a regular Marriott), but there was – ta-da! – a major demolition and construction project going on in front of the hotel.

You are fucking kidding me.

I cancelled my reservation there and made a reservation at the Marriott near the beach – which is where I’d intended to go the whole time. I arrived to find not only that there was construction going on in the front of the building, but in the back as well.

Exhausted from the assault on my nerves all week long, not to mention the run-around trying to find a place to ground, and desperately needing to just lie down somewhere, I asked the receptionist if I might be able to survive the noise with the windows closed. She informed me (good for her for being honest!) that the jack hammers at 8 am that morning had sent half the guests running from one side of the hotel to another, only to be greeted by more intolerable noise on the other side.

So I cancelled my reservation and went to the beach area. Fortunately, Gladys the Parking Goddess was in my favor, and I found a spot right in front of a café that had been highly recommended to me a few months earlier. Unfortunately, the sounds of dishes banging and coffee grinding made it very challenging for me to be inside. I explained my hypersensitivity to someone and asked her to save my place, so that I could wait outside. But she didn’t, and between trying to plug my ears from the noise and keep them open to communicate with people (plugging my ears while talking made me hurt myself from my own amplified voice, and not plugging my ears made me hurt from the outside noise), let’s just say that after a couple of rounds of trying to get a tuna wrap and medium latte, I fled the scene.

Great. Something basic like ordering a sandwich had become impossible.

I walked to the beach, where I sat and cried from frustration and depletion. I tried calling my best friend but couldn’t hear a damn thing she said. The cell phone was hurting my ear, given the injury, so I couldn’t hold it close; and the crashing waves were making it impossible to hear over the speaker phone.

I actively decided to get things in perspective. While it was certainly unnerving to be essentially homeless, the beach at Marina Del Rey was really not such a bad place for that to happen. And while my business was in a critical time where I had to explode forward with a burst of energy, in order to achieve the level of success I need within the time frame of the loan I recently received, I had a terrific media coordinator holding the fort and keeping things on course while all this craziness was happening. So maybe things were not progressing as fast and furiously as I’d like them to be, but they were moving forward nonetheless.

Then there was the fact that I had a car to get me around, a computer and Skype phone to work at cafes, my overall health despite the pain and hypersensitivity in my ear from the injury, the power of self-healing – meaning that over time, I could heal my ear too, my creativity and intelligence, and a host of other privileges. In addition, while the explosive noise did injure me, it didn’t make me deaf, for which I was grateful.

In addition, while I’m in a tight and beginning-to-be-scary financial situation right now, I did in fact have enough budge room to get cranio-sacral therapy and book myself into a hotel for a few days. What’s more, I was not starving; I was not in an abusive relationship; and with the exception of the recent injury, I was functionally pain-free and mobile.

Considering the million and six ways there are to be disabled, and considering what happens in this country every day (hang out in any police station or hospital to get perspective), not to mention what goes on around the world every day, I really had nothing to complain about.

So I took myself to a Mediterranean café, where I had a delicious falafel lunch, and where a nice tourist struck up a conversation with me. I looked out at the palm trees, beach, and happy tourists, and things did not seem so bad.

To be continued…

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