This is a concise primer on the technique that has saved my quality of life through decades of pain.
A straightforward, down-to-earth technique could make you taller and slimmer. It can help silence stress and banish the blues. It can even give significant relief from back and neck pain and the ache of arthritis. Yet this technique is no new wonder-therapy, no esoteric healing – it’s been taught in this country for years. It’s called the Alexander Technique. In the past the Alexander Technique has suffered from an image problem. People equate it with “learning good posture” and it is seen as rather staid and boring. That view should change because although Alexander does take time and patience to learn properly, its effects can be nothing short of miraculous. A host of celebrities have used it – from John Cleese to Paul Newman and it is lauded by actors and dancers who need to be able to use their bodies to the optimum.
The technique was developed by Frederick…
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This is a precise, concise statement of the heart of the matter of writing.
This is one of the best letters I’ve ever read about writing. Not surprisingly, it comes from my favorite writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The letter, which comes from the book F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life In Lettersvia brainpickings, is written from Fitzgerald to Frances Turnbull, a family friend, who sent F. Scott a short story for review.
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Pain Management Approaches
Two of the approaches to pain management and medication that I have lived with:
- Live with as little pain as possible
- Live with as much pain as possible
Each approach seeks a homeostatic balance between the level of pain you can bear and your ability to function in your daily life.
Live as though you’re not in pain
The first twists you into a relatively steep climb on a curve of tolerance to the medications, leading to high dosages. The medication shields you from awareness of how you are exacerbating your underlying condition, which becomes a self-potentiating circuit of pain, leading to a need for more medication, and so forth. Eventually neuropathic pain afflicts you as your CNS gets pain signals almost out of sheer habit.
You use the medication as a way of dulling awareness of pain, and you attempt to live as though you were not in pain at all.
Live in acknowledgement of pain
The second follows a much more gradual tolerance curve. With an intrathecal pain pump the tolerance is negligible since the dosages are minute (micrograms rather than milligrams). Some days are terrible, exhausting, discouraging. (Not all days.)
For me the transformation from one approach to the other was a commitment I made to myself and my older brother as the time for new year’s resolutions came up. (I’d quit smoking using the same motivational mechanism 30 years previously.) Daily I revisit my powerless struggle. There is no way to live as though you’re not in pain. You are compelled to acknowledge each minute of it. You learn to separate the energies you need to fight depression from those you need to resist pain.
If you’ve been medicating for the least-pain approach for any length of time, the move to the most-pain approach is difficult. Once the habituation pain passes, you spend a year or two re-training your expectations for how things are supposed to feel. You seek out alternate resources for pain relief and incorporate them into a regular schedule. This makes the worst days somewhat more tolerable.
The single most important resource in my life has been the Alexander Technique. Next on the list are my energy healer and massage therapist. Daily swimming has seemed to make me a bit more resilient. My work is gratifying, in an introspective way (I cut code for an IT department). And I have a most resourceful and loving wife.
I am a lucky man.
The pain of other people is inscrutable; while our own is of obvious meaning and importance.
To confront the pain of others requires a leap out of one’s own skin. The energy required to make that effort is at any one time finite, and requires regular replenishment. The generosity required to make it stems from an act of imagination.