Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Monday, July 30, 2012

One Moment at a Time

I have mentioned several times over the past few months the awful skin pain that I have been having almost daily, on my upper arms, thighs and torso. A week and a half ago, I was having an especially bad day at the end of an especially bad week at work. I was sitting in a meeting, my skin still feeling somewhat irritable, but also feeling somewhat agitated and anxious from the medication I had taken to try to tame the pain. I suddenly thought "I hate my job!" (I don't really, but I have been very frustrated by our current staffing [under-staffing] situation).
I decided to take a couple of weeks off, to regroup, and to try to get my pain under control. Even though my time off won't start until after this week, I seem to have found a miracle cure. The pain disappeared, and has not returned in 10 days! My belief is that I had been under so much stress at work, my pain flared up. Even on my days off, my worry about my work situation kept my stress levels high, and the pain flaring. With the promise of a vacation coming up, my stress levels went down, and so did the pain.
One of the sayings used by Alcoholics Anonymous is "One day at a time". Doing something difficult for a finite amount of time may seem doable, where the prospect of doing that same thing forever may seem unbearable. Even though I still had two weeks until my vacation would start, my body recognized that a break was in sight, and the 'red alert' was cancelled.
I can't help but wonder if focusing on getting through one day at a time, and not letting the big picture worry me would have calmed my pain sooner. I know that realistically, not everyone can take two weeks off from work whenever they want to, and for many people, it is not work that seems unbearable, but life with pain and sickness. Chronic pain and chronic illness, by definition, may go on forever. If we just take life one day at a time, and don't worry about forever, it may be much more manageable. Sometimes, just focusing on getting through the next hour or even the next minute is a big enough chunk. We only live one moment at a time. Be mindful of the current moment.

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