“Pain is just part of aging.”
That’s what my doctor said to me when I said I was scared about taking pain killers on a daily basis for the pain and stiffness in my hands. I’m a retired court reporter, and my hands have always been very important to me.
My hands were not my only problem; I also have irritable bowel syndrome. That drove fear too: fear of food, fear of going out to eat, fear of social situations and fear that I would have no other recourse but to take Imodium indefinitely. “Pain is just part of aging,” is just another way of saying, “Stop complaining.” I wanted a better answer and I wasn’t going to get it from my doctor.
Inflammation of one kind or another has been my near constant companion for about eight years. It started with stiffness in my hands and reared its ugly head in the form of IBS around the same time. I did acupuncture, finger massage and stretching for my hands. And for my fired up colon I took drugs prescribed by my gastroenterologist and ate more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. I thought I was doing the right thing.
When a friend told me about Suppers, I thought I could at least go and learn more about preparing whole food. I also liked the idea of meeting people who deal with digestive issues and support each other’s food choices. So I went in expecting to eat and prepare delicious, nutritious food. What I did not expect from a nearly free-to-users program that makes no claims about health outcomes was release from fear and pain. But that’s what happened when I worked the program.
I no longer feared food.
That is a highly charged sentence for me, a person who has felt trapped inside burning walls of pain, fear of a lifetime of medications, and fear of eating.
There must be others like me out there who don’t accept that pain is just part of aging. OK, it takes some work. But let me point out that by doing my elimination experiments in the safe and creative settings of Suppers meetings, I was able to identify and eliminate the true driver of the pain in my hands: sugar. And avoiding wheat, dairy and sugar has resulted in a 90% improvement of the IBS symptoms too. I learned how to shop for and prepare delicious meals. Within a year, not only was I able to provide myself with some long overdue nurturing, I felt confident enough to nurture others too.
Pain gets in the way of so many things; it was shrinking my life. Freedom from pain expanded my world by giving me confidence again around socializing, food choices, and feeling like I’m in control. Today when I have some pain, it takes only half an ibuprofen to resolve it, instead of three to four NSAIDs. More importantly, by working a program that increases my self-awareness, I can often peg the culprits; I can often say to myself, “Vicky, the pain is not normal aging, you just got exposed to sugar.”
Part of the work we do at Suppers is matching solutions to problems. For me, the real solution was identifying which foods set me on fire and getting the social support I needed to create a new relationship with food. For me, gratitude is an engine. As soon as I learned how to resolve pain for myself I started planning my own meeting, co-facilitating with the friend who brought me to my first meeting. The people who benefit most are the people who serve. I can’t imagine a more fulfilling way to stay in my own process than to roll up my sleeves and work with people whose pain is NOT just part of aging.