For me, the really ugly thing about being in pain isn’t the pain itself but the way it takes me out of relationship with people and the environment. I just want to go to ground and isolate myself, like an animal crawling down its lair. This is not the way I usually express myself in the everyday world; I’m not reclusive in the least.
The pain I experience intermittently is the result of advanced osteoarthritis in my hips which I have decided not to battle anymore. Two worn-out hips will soon be replaced by shiny new acetabula and femur heads. That will effectively put paid to the arthritis. Even though it’s a pretty serious solution, it’s time.
Over the years I’ve shored up a lot of tools to deal with the discomfort of this condition. Top of the list is yoga. The poses have helped me preserve reasonably good alignment and posture, and remedial movements have, until the last few months, reliably relieved uncomfortable symptoms. I particularly love inversions, as in headstand and shoulderstand, because when I’m upside down my hips feel practically weightless. In a well-rounded yoga practice, I include restorative poses, especially viparita karani, savasana, and pranayama.
My pose of poses for releasing pain is affectionately called “chair savasana”: lower legs resting comfortably on a flat-seated chair. It helps with grousing groins and griping glutes, two of the common pain areas with hip arthritis.
In recent months I’ve learned that I’m not a bad person, I’m not a failure, if I very occasionally take an over-the-counter pain-killer. Just one is all I need, and all symptoms lighten, even my limp.
Ironically, one of the best ways to soften the pain is to share it. Communicating will invariably bring me back into relationship with my husband, friends and the extraordinarily beautiful surroundings I live in.