I am one acquainted with the night


(c) Cat Charissage, 2016

Dear Friend,

I’m not sure where to start with this post.  My commitment in this blog is to tell the truth, AND to be encouraging; to choose to look at life from the glass half full.  How do we talk about the hard times, acknowledging just how all encompassing and life defining they really are?

There are many wonderful things about my life.  Many privileges, enough resources, an abundance of friends and options.  But, I also live with chronic pain.

There is not a day that goes by in which I am not aware of just how present this physical pain is in my life, and how exhausting it is to be carrying it in my body, hour after hour, day after day, year after year.  There isn’t a night (for at least the last 15 years) in which I haven’t been awoken 5, 6, 7 times from pain, needing to rub in some Ben Gay (my “signature scent”!), move around or stretch, take some medication, do a little meditation.  The past few nights have been frustrating, as I’m dealing with rotator cuff pain (shoulder and arm pain) on top of everything else.  I’m exhausted at night, so go to bed around 10:30.  Then I’m awakened every 45 minutes or so:  can’t stay sleeping on my left side because of the shoulder pain; can’t stay sleeping on my right side because of my hip pain; can’t stay sleeping on my back because of my lower back pain.  I get up to walk around a bit, then go sleep in the lazyboy chair.  Or try to.  The nights have been cold, so it takes awhile to warm up the room temperature covers and help my muscles relax.  Often I  warm up the “magic bag” in the microwave and cuddle that until the blankets are toast.  I’m just ready to drift into sleep, and the Ben Gay wears off.  I know there’s no way to sleep now, so I drag myself into full awakeness to smear on the liniment — maybe add a little hot sauce, too (the capsaicin cream).   Andrew and I often joke that it’s not everyone who gets to sleep with such a hot woman as I!  Okay, fully smeared on all surfaces that usually ache or pinch, covers warmed through, I start to drift off again.  And a new sensation arises:  the arch of my left foot is going into spasm!  Oh geez — hadn’t ever noticed that that had been one place that didn’t used to hurt!  It’s pretty challenging to twist around under the covers trying to apply Ben Gay to my cramped foot — and not also onto blankets or chairs or, heaven forbid, rather sensitive, ah, private parts of my dear body!  (Been there, done that!  Not fun needing to take a shower in the middle of the night to soap off the camphor, menthol, and hot pepper that’s burning places it should never touch!)

So goes the night.  Awaken, take note of any dream, smear some more hot sauce on dear body, walk around a bit, try not to awaken dear spouse, get warmed up again, hopefully drift off.  Often, somewhere around 5 in the morning, I finally drift into a deeper sleep.  While I’m thankful for the rest, it usually means I sleep in until almost 10 a.m.  Feels now like half the day’s gone.  Another night where it takes 11 1/2 hours to get about 6 hours of sleep.

And then there’s the next day to get through.

Believe it or not,  I’m not whining in telling it like it is.  As I’ve said, there’s so much good in my life, including excellent conventional and non-traditional health care.  There are still many things in this 21st century that can’t be fixed, and this is simply my life right now.  It’s also similar to the  lives of many others who are acquainted with the night, surviving pain, holding vigil, coping with anxiety.  Let’s not forget just how hard life can be for so many people.  How can we be anything but kind?

With much love,


p.s.  I’ve just posted my Winter/Spring 2017 offerings, including workshops on Sacred Circles, Spirals, and Mandalas, and Dreaming Your Life Awake.  See: Current Offerings

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