Messing up: a cascade

I’ve just come back from a few days away which involved a couple of key meetings and a games day. I’d have to stay over either side, of course, but the meeting and day seemed to be worth it. Further, I thought I could manage it properly from a pain viewpoint but, frankly, I was wrong.

I am now in shed loads of pain.

The distance to the event was 170+ miles over at least 3 hours to 3h 15m. Not pleasant, given my limit is around 45 minutes, but I planned to give plenty of rest stops and take it at an easy, constant pace and speed. That constant speed and calm pace is important as too many surges put stress on my shoulder and aggravate the pain. Further, knowing the pain that was coming I took painkillers beforehand, made sure I was as rested and relaxed/prepared the day before as possible.

All good. At first it seemed to go okay. Whilst I was in the sling pretty soon after arrival (I helped out a little with some light work but was able to keep my arm from being stressed) this was nothing abnormal. The meetings went well and, whilst I had to pull out of a social trip to a pub after a meal due to the pain growing too much, at least I had been able to attend the meal that night. People had been helpful, too, carrying and storing the small crate of stuff I had had to take up with me so I didn’t have to strain the arm too much. And I was given a gentle lift back to my B&B (thanks, Rick).

The next day started okay: again, the organiser (thanks, Andy) helpfully put me in a warm area to start with. As expected, though, the games required a fair bit of arm movement and I was starting to feel things badly by early afternoon. Luckily, the people I was playing against in the afternoon (David, Noel) were really wonderful opponents so the games were enjoyable and stress-free. I took the occasional short break just to consciously relax, go through some breathing exercises and defocus, and during the gaps between games consciously worked on redirecting the pain.

The good thing, here, is that there was a load of distraction and the time was, for me, relaxing. However, by the evening the toll of the continuous wear and tear had caught up and I had to step out of the final game, volunteering to just help run it, instead.

Though I did not realise it at the time, that was the final straw: I should listened to my body and pain and left there and then. As it was, despite being helped with my crate again and given a gentle lift back (thanks Noel), the problems had compouned and I was in too much agony. The adrenalin had faded and I collapsed onto the bed, propped up my arm and was just unable to move without adding to my pain. Opiates would be no help as they would keep me up and make travel back the next day impossible.

When I was able to move I thought of ordering food. There was a pub-restaurant nearby but it had closed by then. So rather than just use the snacks I’d brought with me I ordered a take-away. However, something I’d  ate disagreed with me and whilst sleep was fitful due to the pain anyway, at around 3am I was really woken by some severe stomache cramps and threw up. Needless to say, the rest of the night was not pleasant and good sleep was not to be had – pain and the WC are not good bedfellows.

The trip back was slow and steady, again, especially nursing what seemed to be some reaction to the food as well as managing the pain. Get indoors, collapse down and try and recover…

Whilst there was a continuity of affect here that that just piled up, there is also an unseen stress factor here arising from trying not to show the sheer amount of pain you are in and continuing to remain as sociable as possible. This, coupled with the sheer number and cascade of factors coming together meant that, to be honest, I was unable to cope with the meetings, the travel, the day and the mild activity, despite help and consideration.

I was over-ambitious, overreached my capabilities and messed up. I am, to day after I got back, still having to deal with the pain. There are lessons to take forward:

  • Double-check such an itinerary in future that does not have the compound and cascade effects – build in longer rest;
  • Do not override what I know I should do: just doing it right one night does not mean it gives me a ‘get out of jail’ ticket for subsequent activity;
  • Be on the lookout for, and be more aware of, cascade factors.

Thanks to those who helped and were really considerate (Andy, Rick) and thanks to those that helped with really enjoyable games that needed to be really good when I played them (Dave, Noel). Without that I’d have had to leave by mid-afternoon.

This time, this format would not allow Pain Management needed. Needless to say, it is not something I can consider doing again: lesson learnt.

[Featured Image: Pain (C) Riccardo Puccini,,
Flickr, Creative Commons]

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