Many things are resolved with the tincture of time.
A friend

Medicine is an inexact science.
Author unknown.

I was reminded of conversations many years ago with my mother-in-law who talked about aches and pains she was experiencing. None were serious or affected her ability to do everyday tasks, but she lived with discomfort.  It’s just a part of getting older, she said.

It is? I asked myself. I want none of that! And yet, from time to time, I experience discomforts with no known cause.  Still able to do most things but inconvenienced from time to time by limitations in what my body can do.

Such occurrences are a surprise and source of consternation, leading me to wonder:  Is this a discomfort that:

  • can be ignored in the hope it will go away?
  • needs prompt attention? or
  • must be endured?

Much as I like clear explanations for everything all the time, sometimes there isn’t one. Life is just not like that.

I am not talking about diagnosed health/medical conditions that require treatment, and which may be chronic in nature, but rather the sometimes-unexplainable symptoms and sensations that are experienced for no apparent reason.

Many of us are familiar with various aches, pains, and discomforts of one kind or another.  Perhaps an old injury, long dormant, is now causing us distress. Or we find ourselves stiff in the mornings when we arise. Maybe old habits catch up with us and now we need to look at our lifestyle and decide if it’s time to change those habits.

It can be difficult to know what is happening to our own bodies.  The why is not clear. The timing is a mystery.  No pattern can be discerned. All we know is that something is happening that cannot be ignored. It’s easy to attribute such sufferings to age but that may not be true.  Whatever “it” is may be with us for a long time or mysteriously stop altogether.

This happened to me around the time COVID started. An annoying cough that would not resolve itself prompted a COVID test and medical investigation, but no cause was found.  After about three months or so with the help of inhalers, the cough disappeared.  What caused it? No idea. Why did it stop? No idea. The doctor suspected an allergy but could not be sure. She said that sometimes things happen, and we don’t know why. Somehow, I knew this but was surprised to hear it just the same.

Medicine is an inexact science. Problems not easily apparent may require detection through a sometimes arduous and time-consuming process of elimination until the likely cause is determined. When you think about the wonder and complexity of our magnificent bodies and how each body is different and unique, it’s reassuring that answers can be found to what’s ailing us so much of the time. 

Good health – a resource for every day living- makes it possible to live our lives in ways that matter to us. When we can’t do so, the rhythm of daily life is interrupted, and our emotional energy can suffer.  I know I must resist believing the inner dialogue that suggests my body is falling apart.

As we age, the topic of conversation increasingly shifts to health issues – approaching medical tests, ailments, and medications we’re taking.  This is understandable. Health challenges happen and it’s helpful to share what we’re going through and in turn support others.  What I wonder about is how to avert the slide into health management as an all-consuming preoccupation even when our health issues demand our close to full time attention.

What to do?  I wish I knew. It’s not easy to live with discomfort for long periods of time with no end in sight.  How do we avoid being swallowed up by it all?  Each of us must find our own way. I do know that….

  • Fretting and ruminating don’t work. Worry only clouds the day.
  • Unhelpful conversations don’t work. I’m talking about conversation that focuses on everything that’s wrong and imagines the worst. Draining to say the least.
  • Ignoring the messages from our bodies doesn’t work. Our wise bodies do what they need to do to get our attention. The messages only get louder if we don’t listen.

We should never ignore our health. There are good reasons to be vigilant and address issues in a timely manner. If anything, we need to focus even more on supporting our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. 

I wonder about what’s ahead. Do we have to accept the messages about aging being a state of decline? Messages that are false by the way. Are the aches and discomforts a harbinger of things to come?  Not necessarily!    

We just don’t know what’s ahead and we can’t always choose what comes our way. How do we live fully without the aches and pains and whatever else we are dealing with, becoming the centre of our lives, and casting a shadow over the day?  Somehow, it’s about finding a balance that keeps us realistic to the reality of our experiences, while remaining profoundly grateful.  I know people who have found that balance and I am full of admiration. Such individuals continue to live with a sense of purpose.

Aches, pains, and other unexplained bodily sensations do not define us. The real us- the true person that inhabits our wonderful body, and lives with a sense of purpose, is ageless, beautiful, wise, and forever growing powerful beyond measure.  That’s the message I want to accept and believe to be true. Which it is, by the way!

My thanks to Catherine Walker for her review of this post.

6 thoughts on “Aches, Pains, and Unexplained Bodily Sensations

  1. Thank you for articulating what so many of us feel! This post was very validating- and calming! Well done!


  2. Your statement that ” I know I must resist believing the inner dialogue that suggests my body is falling apart” is exactly how I feel! Thanks for putting those feelings into words, Audrey! Hugs, Susan


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