I woke up before my alarm, an increasingly common occurrence, but not for the usual reasons- the birds, the early rising sun of late spring or honking cars- I had a throbbing pain in my right side that was uncomfortable, tender, enough to wake me. Due to a recent diagnosis of a condition that, though manageable and somewhat mild, was alarming and jarring, I had turned almost overnight, from a medically neglectful person to a hyper-vigilant-bordering-paranoid alarmist when it came to my body and its health.
Like I tend to do, I looked to Google for an immediate response to my problem, a ‘place holder’ until I determined if this pain was persistent and bad enough to bother my doctor with.
Sifting through the results for ‘sharp pain in upper right abdomen’, I saw this could be many things, but none good and most incurable. The fatalist frenzy I was avoiding by trying to alleviate myself with a favorable Google finding, reared its ugly head. Each Google result felt like a hopeless confirmation that I was doomed.
I called my doctor, which I should have done in the first place. My check up was unremarkable, and found nothing physically wrong or anything out of the ordinary linked to my condition. Instead of feeling happy and relieved, I continued my worrying.
“What should I do if the pain comes back?” I asked my doctor fearfully.
“Try not to be so nervous. You’re doing fine, “ he answered kindly, while adding, “and stop searching ‘Dr. Google’ for symptoms.”
He gave the usual wrap-up he gives before I departed, but, as I was walking through his office door toward the waiting room he added, “You’re not a sick person. Don’t act like a sick person.”
This left me feeling unsettled and uncomfortable with myself. He was right. I was not a sick person. I knew I needed to find a happy medium between paying attention to my body and not overreacting to every little change or sensation. I felt like I needed to take a step back and re-engage with the idea of living in the moment, something I learned through my meditation practice.
When we open our eyes to living in the now, the power of making each moment count is the best “cure” we can have for many of the emotional, as well as some of the physical things that ail us. After all, the things that make us anxious are what we stew over from the past or anticipate in the future. In the moment, the only thing that exists is ‘doing.’
Getting a realistic grip on what is happing in your life is the best good deed and act of kindness you can give to you. Mental and emotional clarity is as vital as bodily health. I know that I will always be able to find something wrong with myself if I look hard enough, but today – now – I have decided to focus on what’s right with me. If and when the future I fear arrives, I’ll deal with it then, in the present.
I decided to start a Gratitude Notebook. Every morning I write down one thing I am thankful for. I hope you try this too. There is no more powerful way to be in the moment than by reminding yourself how much you have to live for now.
No pain? All gain.