I mentioned this name in my previous post and said I would return. Jabez, a name meaning borne in pain. This image from the D.O. was a dark humoured joke with myself. During fieldtrips with C, I would often find myself sliding into lengthy, often cussed filled Rantras as I clawed at whatever it was that happened to be getting under my skin. I’d eventually run out of steam and weary laugh three words.
I guess I’d swallowed that ridiculous archetype of Artists owning a tortured soul…that you can’t create anything beautiful without visceral churnings… That art must be ‘Jabez’ borne in pain!
What a load of bollox!
At this point in my life, my body had been put into lockdown by physical pain. A back injury, whose source failed to be identified through X-rays, MRI, etc. A pain which refused to budge via remedies medical or mystical and had taken over my life. The only escape I found was through, sitting in fields, making images, and driving my car…(0h and at a slightly later date – swimming).Needless to say, I was pretty prolific during this time but frustratingly so, as away from those pursuits, normal everyday tasks felt insurmountable.
A string of physios were baffled and each one tried a new approach. Every step was a Herculean task made more complicated by the fact that I had lost my sense of balance. Finally a physio realised I couldn’t rather than wouldn’t follow their advice and sent me away to practise standing on one leg as often as possible throughout the day to force my muscles to switch back on their receptors. She told me “You’ve suffered an injury and your body protects the pain but sometimes the mechanisms won’t switch off and your body shields against pain that’s no longer really there.” .
My final physio was a guy who asked me to feedback on the remedial exercises classes I’d been attending. I asked him if he wanted an honest answer? He said he did… So he got it. “They were fucking useless! Like being stuck in a prison yard, nobody wanting to be there, everyone sideways glancing each other, the only conversation “What are you in for?” Ffs! You sent me to knee replacement camp! I’ve got a sodding back problem and you put me in a room with a bouncing neutron fitness freak, who can’t even comprehend that I’m in the wrong place! Yeah, well fuck him! I binned all his homework! ” I paused suddenly realising that I’m on an open ward, everyone can hear and oooh. .. I’m abusing NHS staff and maybe security is on the way.
But no, my physio is smiling “So Karen, I know you’ve been doing some excercise, it’s immediately obvious. What have you been doing?” I revealed that I had started swimming. He told me he was discharging me. I protested that I was not better. He laughed at me ” Ok, this is your problem, you’re comparing yourself with where you want to be and you’re not seeing any results. I’m comparing you to when you first got here and there’s massive progress. But the deciding factors in discharging you are that you’re angry, you know your body, you’re fighting back and you’re getting results. You’re the best type of patient, you’ll get full recovery because you’ve decided you don’t need us. Though of course, if you do happen to relapse, don’t panic, sometimes it happens, but you can get referred back here and we can annoy you again”.
Mobility slowly improved, still much slower than I would have liked, the pain gnawing like a donkey had sunken it’s teeth into my butt and refused to let go. Confidence in my body was low…I just didn’t trust it that much. A hypnotherapist friend had learnt a new technique she was very excited about. She contacted me “Karen, I think I can help you. I’ve been seeing amazing results with this. I think I can get you completely pain free in one session. I’m not charging you for this. This is reciprocating all the wise words you’ve given me over the years”.
I wasn’t entirely sure that I believed her but as recently pointed out to me, I am often overly curious, so I accepted this kind offer. It might work? If it didn’t then the worse that would happen was that I’d touch base with a friend I had not seen face to face for a while. Sat in her office, she put me under… Directing me into focusing into the pain and the point of origin. I dissolved into ugly crying tears and streaming snot… The point of origin, not in my body but in the trapped memory of a conversation… September 2011…
I left her office pain free and with a spring in my step. The first time I’d felt myself bounce along the ground since who knows when…A week later, she gave me a follow up call. The pain was inching itself back in. She gave me advice on how to sit with it and remove it myself and said that if it didn’t budge then come back in and we’d hit it again.
I followed advice and kept it at bay but still trust was not full and I found myself moving gingerly. One evening, I went out to do a tarot reading, leaving the person’s house and heading towards my car, I tripped over thin air. My brain did that slow mo’ thing where time distorts and myriad thoughts all fly at once crammed into a split second. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I’m going to lose my teeth! Bollocks! My bag! New glasses! New phone! I’m gonna smash everything! FUCK! This is gonna sting! Heading into what surely must be a monumental faceplant, my arms took on a life of their own. Left hand flinging bag out of harm’s way…Right arm moving into forearm smash, world circling around me and then somehow back upright on my feet?! I looked around the empty street… Ah! No one around… Did that really just happen? I dunno? Hmmm… My bag is over there a good 6 feet away… Something happened? I swooped it up, in one graceful curve as I headed to the car. I drive home feeling a little spacey…
Walking into the house, Mr S looks up at me “Jesus! Karen, what’s happened to you?”
” I’m not sure… I either tripped over or I tripped out… ”
“Well you’ve got blood pouring down your arm. Sit down, let me clean you up.”
I don’t argue and I let him Mommy me. He gently removes all the grit from my arm “How have you done this?” . I describe the scene and he laughs “That’s textbook Ukemi. When did you learn karate?”
” Ukemi? Karate? What are you on about man? I’ve never done karate… Oh… Though I did do maybe a year or so of Judo but I got bored and quit as we only ever seemed to do forward rolls… Forward rolls? When am I ever going to use that? ”
“Forward rolls! UKEMI!!! Idiot! You just used them!”
” Oh God dammit! You mean to say my body just pulled probably the coolest move of my life and no fucker even saw it?! No one will ever believe me… ”
“Sorry, maybe I should have left the grit in so you’d have a nice scar and a story to tell”.
My back pain vanished for good as faith in my body had finally returned.
Returning to my D.O. I realised that one of my many blocks in writing it up was that I just didn’t want to immerse myself in the mire… Getting myself entangled in my Brer rabbit briar patch of oyster…grit…pearl…In earlier years when I’d been writing lots, I could never bear to go back and read. Whilst writing my head would be filled with so many things screaming loudly that even though I edited out 90% I still thought my reader could hear all that shit going on. Recently an old friend directed my attention back to something intensely personal that I had written and I read it back with fresh eyes and without the noise in my head. I read it with distance and I liked what I read… Another block in writing things up was the first time I dug the D.O. out again, I was feeling quite happy and perversely I thought that I was maybe too happy to write… Yeah, well now, myth busted! I’m probably the happiest I’ve ever been and words are flowing… Mojo is moving…
My back pain saga taught me that the mind quits before the body does…
‘Jabez’ borne in pain. That’s only a portion of the story. The Biblical Jabez led a blessed life as his faith removed the birth curse of pain.
Oyster…Grit…Pearl… I’m done with that spit. There’s no need to nurse life’s grit when you can gently rinse it out and get back onto your feet.
Blessed is as blessed does.