pain scale

Yesterday was one of those days that wanted to kick my butt. Even still, I was determined to push. Come hell or high water, I was going to get out onto the track. But the pain I was feeling in my neck and right shoulder was so intense it was making me dizzy. I took four extra strength Advil, but it didn’t seem to make a bit of difference. Or if it did — and here’s a scary thought — what would’ve I felt like without it? On that pain scale chart they use in hospitals now, with the happy face man on the left and the frowning man on the right, I was way over in frowning face territory.

What’s odd, is this is happening more and more and I’m not sure what’s going on. Is it nerve damage? Tendon damage? I don’t know. I’ve had some sensation loss below my level of injury over the last couple of years, but nothing of this nature this high up. Could it be related? Again, I don’t know. Either way, it looks like a doctor visit is in my future. And if you know me, that’s a mighty big deal. I don’t like doctors — not personally — but I’ll only visit them when I absolutely must — when I’m right up against the edge and there aren’t any other options. This frowny face pain is pretty damn close to that point.

But back to hell or high water. Generally, when I get out onto the track, after that first lap things seem to loosen up and if I’m having any pain, that too subsides. But it was hot — very hot for Berkeley — 90 plus degrees hot — and that can be good and bad* for my workout routine. On the one hand, the heat loosens my arms up, getting rid of any stiffness I might have, but on the other — if one isn’t careful — high temperatures can be dangerous. The problem is, quadriplegics don’t sweat below the level of their injury and more often than not, above it as well. Without perspiration to cool us down, our core body temperatures can rise very quickly, and in extreme cases be lethal. Fortunately for me, I live in Berkeley and we get the kind of temperatures I’m talking about maybe three or four times a year. That works out great, because it means I can pretty much workout whenever I want. Still, when it’s hot like it’s been, I understand my limitations. I may have a Tiger Woods streak in me when it comes to working through the pain, but I’m not an idiot. I’m pretty confident I know when to say when.

That said, this particular push had me right up against that edge I was referring to above. The pain in my neck and shoulder didn’t subside after that first lap, and the heat kept me questioning how much further I could push it before the law of diminishing returns began.

A mile was my limit on this day, but it was a very well earned mile. The pain, which was difficult to deal with was, in the end, the very thing that drove me on. The pride I felt in overcoming this obstacle is money in the bank. In the big picture, it’s a rather small accomplishment compared to some, but combined with many like it, it’s the foundation for which success is built upon.

So, yeah, rest assured, once this busy weekend is behind me, I’m calling a doctor.

* For lack of a better way to put it, I used the words “good” and “bad”. But as they pertain to judgement, I’m really trying to leave those words out of my vocabulary. Life has shown me that labeling something “good” or “bad” — judging it as so — is not wise. What’s “good” or “bad” today, may not be so tomorrow.

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