Working on a Physical Disability

Over the years I've worked on a chronic back condition caused by an auto accident. There were three times when I worked on it intensively and consistently, because of the pain. This past year I committed to working on it again.

I've learned through the discharge process how to take charge of my body. That means learning all about what my options are and how I can best utilize the health care system. I decided many years ago that to simply go to a health care practitioner and let him or her decide for me what I needed to do would not work. It put me in a powerless position. So I learned all I could about my condition and current treatments. At times I did have to settle for whatever someone could do for me until I found something better. For example, I saw chiropractors because they offered the best alternative for the short term. Still, I was always looking for permanent change. I figured this wouldn't happen with discharge alone, but rather with a combination of a holistic approach and discharge.

One year ago I started seeing a holistic practitioner whose goals were compatible with mine. I set a goal that in one year I would be pain-free most of the time and structurally more integrated. The year is up, and I'm there. In the past couple of weeks I finally reached my goal.

In Co-Counseling sessions I worked hard on disappointment, grief, and fear-disappointment that after all this time my back was still not better, grief that I would never be "normal" or completely functional, and fear of it getting worse. In the back of my mind I was hopeful, because discharge has worked before and the reality is that I'm in better shape physically and emotionally than I've ever been.

Outside of session I've been learning new things: how to strengthen my muscles so that they will compensate for the asymmetry and how adding devices, such as orthotics and a mouth splint, also help. For the first time since the accident I can "stretch" the morning aches and pains away all by myself. If I do need help, I know where to get it.

What's been helpful from counselors is: to not react to my discouragement or disappointment with anything other than delight; to not worry about me or my condition or tell me that they know of someone who could help me, but rather to let me tell them how horrible it feels; and to not try to take care of me during their session. (It's okay to ask if I need anything or to tell me to put myself in a comfortable position before the session starts, but they don't need to check on me during their session.)

I've counseled on this all year long. I try to not focus on the pain outside of session but to get the rest and exercise I need. In session I work hard on the pain and all the fears that go along with a physical condition. I'm in charge at every step.

Pam Geyer
Bellaire, Texas, USA

(Present Time No. 110, January 1998)

Last modified: 2016-08-22 02:11:22-07