Last weekend I went to see the osteopath. I’d had a sore left arm, on and off, for several weeks, that seemed to be gradually getting worse. It felt like I’d pulled a muscle but couldn’t get it to heal. The osteopath told me I’d got a compressed nerve in my neck, and that it was the cause of the sore arm. It was also linked, though in ways I admit I don’t fully understand, to the nerve damage I’d sustained in my left gum. In any case, tooth, arm, neck, all joined by ragged nerves. The osteopath cracked my neck in that way that makes me feel like my brain might pop out my ears, and he warned me it might be sore.
He wasn’t kidding! For the next few days my arm was KILLING me. I emailed him and, because he is remarkably solicitous, he emailed right back saying, yes, it was just healing pain and I should ice my neck where the nerves were probably swollen and irritated. For about 24 hours I was rather struck by the idea that healing hurts, which is probably why we persist so stubbornly with bad habits and old injuries. But after that the novelty of the idea wore off and my arm was no better. This was annoying, as I think a good maxim really should function like a cold compress. I went in search of something the right size and shape in the freezer instead. My dad used to be troubled by a bad back and my mum was often forced to sacrifice a pack of peas, or once, memorably, frozen kippers. I discovered frozen sweetcorn that I thought would do the trick and decided to have a day of complete rest. The day after that, I felt optimistic; my arm had improved a great deal, the end was surely in sight. But no, this was very much a false dawn. My arm remained uncomfortable, cranky and sore, and my range of movement was still restricted.
I emailed the osteopath again, and this time he even rang me to try to figure out what was going on. ‘I think it sounds like the nerves are just really irritated,’ he said. ‘Keep on icing regularly, and if that doesn’t help then come back and we’ll see if something’s still out of place.’ My osteopath is one of the few people I know to have made a study of chronic fatigue (he practices the Perrin technique), and he was telling me that CFSers have a stress system that works on a hair trigger and which may well be engaged in making everything worse, given the importance of the central nervous system to this theory of the illness. And this is where you find me – one-armed and trying very hard to stay patient. Of course, the activity that’s most uncomfortable is using my laptop (I fear poor posture and hours spent typing may be the root cause of the trouble), hence the general lack of blogging and blog visiting. I am so sorry dear blogging friends, this really has been the most exasperating autumn. I’d say that nothing can last forever, but after the past few weeks I don’t want to tempt fate!
The writing course ends today, and I’ll have thoughts about that when I can get back to typing again, and I’ve read some interesting books so I DO hope I’ll be blogging again soon. I’ll keep you posted.