My husband is a physiatrist. Some people know what kind of physician that is, others think I’ve said podiatrist. Physiatrists, or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians treat a wide variety of medical conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Primary care doctors refer people with pain to physiatrists, which is why they are often called pain management doctors. In his practice, Doug firmly believes that pain is inevitable, especially as one ages. Patients who want that pill to make it all go away magically are often disappointed by him.There’s no quick fix. Doug prescribes all kinds of things for his patients, but firmly believes that movement, regular exercise and eating a good diet are ultimately what heals. If you smoke cigarettes, it’s unlikely he will ever give you any kind of drug, unless you can prove you no longer smoke and that you exercise.
I’m thinking of this today as I anticipate my first Christmas without my father.
When Doug talks about pain management, he typically sees it as managing the mind, body and spirit as one. Isolating one area or another leads to imbalance and potentially more pain. His method attempts to teach people how to accept and manage the pain, acknowledging that some of it might originate in the brain as a repressed emotion. Not everyone can do it, but those that can pretty much think he’s a miracle worker.
Over the years I’ve learned a number of ways to manage my physical pain, emotional pain and spiritual pain. This morning as I started to make today’s collage I could feel myself begin to wallow, triggered by who knows what. Thinking about my mom as she marks two big milestones without my dad: my sister’s 50th birthday tomorrow, and then Christmas, just makes me sad. So it’s time to dig deep into the bag of management, and find the myriad ways of self-soothing. For me they range from hot showers to sewing, setting type, knitting, baking, nesting activities, a good movie, and sometimes shopping. Today will have most of those woven into it somehow.
Start making a collage. And then take the scraps from that attempt and make another one. That is what will become your final piece today.
Everyday through December 25th, I’ll be making a 5×5 inch collage, writing a short entry on this blog and sharing a prompt for those who might want to participate along with me. You can follow my progress by subscribing to this blog through the sidebar on the blog homepage, or by following me on Instagram.