Tobias is a curionaut exploring mind, body and the universe. Having been landed with chronic pain a few years ago, he now explores the mind and what it's capable of.

A very personal anniversary ☞ Part 3 of 3

This post has been so long in the making, I don’t even know if anyone even cares anymore. On the other hand, better late than never I say.

When I last wrote about this I was feeling rather hopeless about my life so far, and extremely worried about what was wrong with me. Thus far, according to the doctors, it was practically nothing. Just a pinched nerve. But they had arranged for an MRI. Where I live though, turns out that takes some time to get… So, for a good long while I was on sick-leave, in to much pain to do pretty much anything. Couldn’t drive, couldn’t wear a jacket if it was too heavy, couldn’t even sit with my MacBook as putting my arms in front of me on a keyboard hurt so bad.

Eventually I did get an MRI though. And lo and behold, it was not just a pinched nerve. I has a tragic number of disc hernias in my thorax. Several of them pressing on my nerves. I felt somewhat crestfallen, though at least I knew where to start looking now.

I found that out some time in November 2014, and since then, my life has been… not normal. I guess, for a positive spin, it hasn’t really been boring though. At first I tried to rely on the supposedly great healthcare system. And as I’m sure many others have realized, that is at best a temporary crutch. I got ten sessions with a physical therapist (whose one remaining actual contribution was while she was pulling on my head and there was a sound like gunfire as she basically pulled my spine ‘apart’ slightly), and a doctor told me that they weren’t very willing to do surgery that high up on the spine, as the complications could be literally crippling. Two people really came through though. First the HR lady at my work helped a lot. More than the union or anyone else, she helped me fill out the right forms the right way. Thank you! But also the company physical therapist. She talked to me a lot, and suggested I get actual therapy too. Especially since I had though I was going to die. At that point I was still to far inside it to know, but that would turn out to be one of the best things to happen.

At years end my contract was up, and surprise surprise, that was it. I’ve worked for that particular employer under various monikers for years, but now it was over. On the one hand, I felt slightly betrayed. On the other, I actually wouldn’t want to work there again. I prefer smaller companies. I know that now. What then followed was a year of trying alternative therapies. I’m open enough to give most things not unreasonably expensive a go. I tried various massages, acupuncture, changing my diet to an even stricter keto one, osteopathy, homeopathy, herbs, vitamins and minerals and so on.

After about a year of intensively getting my body loosened up and my mind cleaned out a bit by a therapist, I was about ready to start looking for a job again. What, I had no idea since I can’t really carry much anymore. But as it turned out, I was a day (literally) late with my application and thus lost my right to financial aid (up to that point I had lived off of savings). But still I searched. I was still in pain, but way less than I had been. I dared to have a slight hope for 2016.

That soon turned out to be misplaced. I can’t remember ho many jobs I applied for. I was either over-qualified, or they decided to hire from within the company, or I lacked the exact BA it required. All sorts of things.

During that summer I also found a new deep work I could try on my own created by Dr John Sarno, where you basically work with the principle that most pain is created by the brain. And I quickly had astonishing results. I had also decided to recommit my self to meditation, ate large quantities of vitamin D and liquid magnesium. I was still occasionally seeing a chiropractor, but it was less necessary than before.

At the end of summer 2016 I decided to throw in the towel. On the insistence and cheering by my mother, her husband and my grandparents, I decided to look around for possible education opportunities. I looked at many, but decided to go visit a guidance counselor at my old alma mater, Lund University.

All that lead to my now studying my second semester of Informatics, likely aimed at getting a BA in Informatics by summer. Though at this point, I’m trying to stay open to life changing as you go along. And I am not above admitting that I am struggling at the moment. Turns out carrying a laptop, lunch, water and the rest of the necessities of school is beyond me. I no longer eat lunches, choosing instead to fast as it is beneficial and also lets me carry less. I try to carry water, and I use my iPad as much as I can. But since were trying to learn database-stuff right now, it requires me to carry the MacBook Pro every so often. On those days I know that when I come home, I’m basically done for the day. Codeine and sleep is all can do.

So what now? Have I found meaning? Does my regimen work? Am I finally on the right track in life? Those are big questions. And I think it depends on when you ask them, what I will answer. I will try to hint at some answered here.

First; does my regimen work? What I consider part of my regimen around my pain and mind today is a keto diet, intermittent fasting, meditation (minimum 15 minutes, but up to an hour some times), vitamin D, magnesium, I try get proper sleep, and I try to journal semi-regularly. I used to do daily JournalSpeak as it’s called, but admit I’ve fallen off the wagon as it were. And that may possibly be why I’m in so much pain again too. Basically all these things work well, but unfortunately I notice them much more when I don’t do them. And that makes it easy to forget sometimes. And that is a tough part of it. Still though, it is constantly evolving and getting tweaked.

Second; am I on the right track in life? Well, this is sort of a nuanced answer. I’m not sure I was ever on the wrong track anymore. The other day I heard something along the lines of ‘life has its plan and it will follow it eventually regardless’. I think that is pretty close to what I currently believe. I have free will, but there is a plan, and eventually I will start to connect the dots looking back if nothing else. I don’t know if it’s right of course, but it gives me hope and makes me feel slightly less weird and slightly less on the outside looking in.

Third: have I found meaning. I don’t know if that is quite the question. But I’m alluding to that hour when I though I was going to die and I was angry and sad about the fact that I leave nothing but a few so-so short stories, few friendships and even fewer lovers behind. This is still not clear to me. I have found things to do besides just working. I write (though no as much as I would like, and I am more an more looking at and thinking about trying to break in to column writing), and I cook and experiment with cooking a lot. This whole summer I’ve tried various way of smoking and barbecuing and it has been a delicious journey!

I’ve also turned more to music. I’ve played instruments off and on for most of my life (though admittedly with questionable results) and currently find my self torturing the piano or annoying the guitar every now and then. But I also discovered singing. And I love it! I’ve had personal lessons, group lessons, tried a choir and a vocal ensemble. I’m not sure it gives me meaning, but I love it. That is something! And just the personal victory of singing solo in front of an auditorium full of people, or even fucking up on stage with out falling to bits; priceless!

The friends and lovers thing is tricky. I mean I am such an introvert! But I have realized that I miss friends. Very much. Most of the ones I’ve had have fallen by the wayside. I can’t say, with most of them, if it was my fault or theirs. But life somehow got us away from one another. There are a few (and many dear acquaintances!), but none really close. And I think, especially as an introvert, that is something I sorely miss.

Lover though, haha. Well, that is an even sorrier state of affairs.The short answer is no. Lately I haven’t even dated, because frankly I have never been on a good date, ever. And if it was hard for me getting a date through say a dating site years ago, it is nigh on impossible now. I’ve fallen for a few in my time. I’ve admitted it to a handful. I’ve always gotten a no. A friendly and understanding one, to be true, but no none the less. And it takes its toll, no matter. Sometimes I feel that this is one of my more pressing needs. I miss being in a relationship so much. But one day maybe. (I also dream about becoming a father, and it feels weird admitting to that, but it’s true. But I do. There, I said it.)

So no, I don’t think I’m much more ‘ready to die’ as it were. But at least I am aware of that. I don’t know really where I’m going with my life, but I am slowly accepting that that can be the fun of it. And I have started compiling a list of things I don’t want, and that already is a kind of progress. Isn’t it?

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