T-minus two and a half weeks and counting!
A few different things have been happening… my quest to fix my neck/back/shoulders is continuing. I guess the best label for what is happening for me is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. I feel like I’m making some progress, but it’s a one step forward, two steps back situation. Sometimes I feel lik I’m in more pain than when I started. Yesterday my exercise physiologist explained that the term ‘chronic pain’ is used when pain has continued for longer than 6 weeks. It was a bit crushing coming to the realisation that I fit that label, particularly when I spoke to a Feldenkrais practitioner a few days ago and she explained that there are changes in physiology that occur when a person is ‘uncomfortable’ for a long time. She referred me to the book Explain Pain, which describes those changes in detail. I read the preview and one of the main points is that when nerves receive ‘danger’ signals from damaged tissue (like an inflamed muscle) for an extended period of time, instead of ‘switching off’ and ignoring the danger signal (like your auditory system does with background noise for example), they actually become MORE sensitive! It takes less input to set them off, and the ‘gateway’ stays open for a longer period of time.
Thanks a bunch danger system!
So after feeling quite frustrated about all of this, I decided to buy the book to educate myself more, as the preview says it explains how moving and actually living your life with your pain is better rather than staying still and thinking that the pain has to go away before you can be active. I spoke to my exercise physiologist and she explained that some of the pain I’m in now is due to my body adjusting to my improved posture and that over the 3 years my muscles had gotten used to being in a non-functional position. It’s muscular pain now more so than nerve pain, and I hadn’t realised that really until yesterday.
The upshot of all this? I’m continuing my program and am not going to give up and let my body go back to my comfortable, nervey position. Kind of a mind over matter deal.
I’ve decided not to use a large, 65/70L backpack on my trip, and although I’m a bit disappointed it’s better for my neck to take a wheelie suitcase. I spoke to my friend who has done the same trip as me in New Zealand and she assured me that using a wheelie suitcase would be fine. My ex-boyfriend who has done the same whole-day trek I’m planning to do in NZ has told me that it is easily done in good sneakers, and people on website forums seem to say the same thing. This means that I will buy some hiking boots once I’m in Scotland, so I can wear them in doing walks in the Highlands and then wear them in Portugal. This reduces the weight that I am moving around in New Zealand and leaves more room in my luggage.
My plan is to buy a 35L backpack in the UK and use that on the Portugal trek, leaving the rest of my possessions in the UK while I’m in Portugal and Rome. Things like that are cheaper in the UK anyway.
BAM! Below are my iPhone pictures of beautiful Cottesloe beach, during Sculptures by the Sea which I spoke about in my last post. I think pictures like these will make me quite home sick!
In the most exciting news, my New York trip buddy and I have done some research and we are planning on having dinner at a two-star Michelin restaurant while we’re there! It is actually cheaper than eating in a nice restaurant in Perth… go figure! I am drooling already.