Chronic pain is very interesting... Though it is very real and tangible in our bodies it can be easily “swept under the rug,” overlooked and accepted as default. We may experience the subtleties and varying degrees of this habitually persistent animal living inside of us, because we may believe that it is either normal for everyone to have pain to some degree, or that we should just “suck it up” and continue on with our lives.
There are two extreme perspectives that those with chronic pain may often embrace; either we allow pain to define us and have that be the “story of our lives,” or we completely disregard it and categorize it as something that is acceptable. Both attitudes can be dangerous and I feel there should be a middle ground.
The general annual health check up for North Americans in their 20's may consist of a doctor check up and a visit to the dentist...maybe a massage or physiotherapy if we get injured?
I think it is great that we value the importance of oral health in our society, but when did taking care of our teeth become more important than our spines?
Not only does our spinal health affect our structure, form and the efficiency of our bodies, but it directly affects our nervous system, endocrine system, cardiovascular system, the blood flow to our cells and even our capacity to retain information!
Why do I care so much about this?
For the last 10 years of my life I have lived with chronic neck pain. Looking back on my adolescence… I had poor postural habits, sat slouched in church pews every week and carried heavy instruments with several text books. Heck, I even developed a career playing the ever so asymmetrical trombone...with short arms!
Looking at my x-rays and the pain that I experience daily, directly tells a story about my past and the lack of body awareness I had. I also have to take into consideration that imbalances can occur chemically, genetically and emotionally.
What exactly am I dealing with?
The main concern right now is that my cervical spine (the neck, which is often referred to as arc of life) has straightened and the space between C1 and C2 has shortened. This subluxation of the spine is irritating my nerves and effecting several other systems in my body. Fortunately because I am considered a “phase one” patient, there is a window for healing and improvement with regular check ups and daily body awareness. It scares me that If I didn't take action, I would have suffered irreversible spinal degeneration! I was right on the cusp too...
What is my plan?
I plan to continue to do yoga twice a week, along with chiropractic adjustments at the Vitality Center, monthly massage, cranial sacral therapy and physical fitness. I am lucky to have found yoga at an early age as I have developed more body awareness and have eased some of the neck pain.
How can I afford this?
I have made it a priority to spend money on myself. I don't buy clothing, I don't drink alcohol and I live a simple bohemian life style, so I have a bit of money saved for this.
There are also many treatments available at a discount on Groupon, like massage, chiropractic adjustments and reflexology. Groupon is the best! Also, if you use my link to sign up, I will receive $10 Groupon dollars that will go toward future treatments. :)
Why do I want to share my healing journey with others?
The other day I was walking down the street and saw a young girl (probably 14) holding her neck, jolting it back and forth as if she was trying to crack it to get some relief. This was so hard for me to see, as she reminded me of my adolescent self. I didn't want to risk embarrassing her in front of her friends and lacked the courage to engage with her. This is not something that I want to remain silent about any longer.
So many of my friends are musicians, playing asymmetrical instruments that place their bodies into comprising positions. I feel love and empathy for all the “average day Jill's” walking around with pain, and accepting it.
No other experience has made me feel as “old," realizing that this 26 year old body is at a prime time where imbalances can become more permanent if not looked after.
No matter how old you are, you can always improve your quality of life and find relief.
If you are reading this, I want you to scan your body. Do you feel any pain or discomfort? How long have you experienced this pain? Are you ready to get help?
I'm with you on this! If you haven't already, check out my "Posture Checklist" video for simple tips that can help bring more awareness and alleviate pain in the long run. Also if you want to hear me talk about my story, watch my "Can Jill heal her spine?" video.
I believe in the power of my body and it's ability to heal.
Spine, don't worry...I got your back.