The Pain In My Neck

This morning I found myself sitting in an orthopedist’s office waiting to discuss MRI results and “options”.

As I sat there drinking my green tea, I thought, “what in the world am I doing here?”

The truth is, I’ve had neck “issues” since I was about 18.

A couple of car accidents (none my fault), and being hit by a car while running 20 years ago likely contributed to my “issues”. I am usually pretty careful in the language I use to describe what I am dealing with…. it’s not my identity and it doesn’t belong to, nor define me. I carefully craft my language to create my experience. “Issues” sounds a lot less scary…. I can deal with “issues”.  

I know some mornings I wake up and it feels like I have gloves on my poor little swollen fingers. Usually a few minutes on the rebounder and things are better. I have “tools”. Resources I can use to help the situation. I am not helpless, nor a victim to my circumstances. There is possibility, there is breath. Just like in a difficult yoga pose.  

After a couple of particularly painful incidents this year, I decided I needed to finally explore the “traditional” medical route. This morning was my appointment with the orthopedist to discuss my “condition”…. which I consider to be “very fine, thank you.”

We chatted for a few minutes about what makes “my condition” worse, better, etc and then we took a look at the MRI. I had already seen the report, so there were no major surprises. 

“degenerative changes…. lots of arthritis between C4, C5, C6 and C7… reverse cervical curve” ….blah blah blah.

Options? He said, “Seems like you aren’t the type who wants to take drugs.” True that! 

He said he could put in a “surgical appliance” or something like that, but that he wasn’t sure if it would help due to the severity of the arthritis. And he guessed, I wasn’t a big fan of surgery either… not exactly a big surprise. 

Said he could send me to physical therapy but that I likely already knew what they would tell me. Yep… often “physical therapy” looks mysteriously similar to my asana practice. 

So…. I’ll do what I know and love. Yoga, Family, Green Juice, and time on the water. 

If you see my shaking my hands between sun salutations, no big deal… I”m just trying to get some feeling back in my fingers. 

My practice continues to be my teacher. For me, it’s not about mastering some super cool pose, it’s about creating a sense of vitality and wellness in my body that will allow me to practice and be active for many more decades. 

Today as I walked out of the doctor’s office I was reminded, pain may be real, but suffering is a choice.

I’m not saying yoga cures everything, but it does seem to help a whole lot of things….. Suffering is a choice