Some people call it bad luck. Some people call it karma. Some people call it weakness. Some people call it being born under a bad sign. Some people say it’s a result of a bad attitude/misspent youth/past life. Some people say it’s the result of giving up. Some people say it’s a curse. Heck, sometimes I say some of the things above.

But yeah, I do have a lot of physical and medical problems. Not nearly as many as some people I know. I’m glad all the above judgemental people don’t know them, because if they say all of the above about me, I hate to think of what they’d say about someone worse off.

There does seem to be a clustering effect. Probably because, as I wrote in The Mathematics of Pain, pain makes you more susceptible to pain, and other things. If one condition or ailment or disease or mechanical issue is causing you problems, then you’re less likely to be able to fight all the other ones off.

This is especially true of mechanical issues, by their very nature. When there is a mechanical problem with, say, your knee, then you are laid open to a host of other mechanical issues in your hips, your foot, your ankles, your other foot, your back, your shoulders, your neck… That bad knee makes you lopsided, and it’s only a matter of time before other parts of you give in under the pressure of constantly compensating.

Our bodies are not made up of discrete, unconnected parts. The way they teach biology in high school, the way we are trained to think about ourselves, is to separate each and every part of the body, assign it to a team. Team Cardiovascular, or Team Digestion or Team Nervous System. The biggest team of all is Team Brain.

Team Brain is supposed to exist separately and apart from the entire league of mere body teams. We are taught to value Team Brain above all others, because it’s so much more important, and it’s what makes you you. Team Brain runs the show!

Bullshit. Your brain, while it does perform some pretty neat functions and can do some things no other team can do at all, is just another team. But I’ll rant about that some other time.

What matters is that your brain is just as integrated with all the other teams as any other team, and those teams are intertwined in ways we don’t even understand. The knee bone is connected to more than just the thigh bone. And it’s not just physical connections. There are chemical connections; there are hormonal connections, there are emotional connections.

If you treat one team at the expense of the rest, you could end up in worse shape than when you began.

Now, I’m at a point right now when the accumulated stresses and imbalances of my entire adult life are coming together in quite spectacular displays of suckage. And for the first time, I am truly trying to sort things out in an integrated fashion. Hence, I went to see a pain doctor, whose specialty is Integrated Pain Therapy.

Treating individual conditions and injuries and ailments has relieved certain symptoms for a time, but the overall, whole-body result of all these problems is greater than the sum of the individual problems.

Call it the luck of the draw, call it the inevitable result of a society and a medical establishment that refuses to treat the entire individual all at once, but yeah, I’m one of those people who has everything. I try not to feel bad about that. It’s just the way I am.

Think about that the next time you’re feeling put upon because a co-worker who “always seems to be sick”, or a relative who “gets every little illness imaginable”, or neighbour who “can’t seem to catch a break” needs a little help.

If you think it sucks for a healthy, able-bodied, fit person to have to haul that garbage to the curb as a favour, imagine how it feels to not be able to haul garbage to the curb at all.

Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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