Last week I talked about safety and healing. That is one part of why I think I (and the other widow/ers) complain of increased pain and other physical symptoms. The other part is the way our brains are processing our grief.
Think of it like circuitry. We have a certain number of circuits for processing physical experiences. We have another chunk devoted to emotions. And we have some that are devoted to mental processing. Each of the different types is calibrated to this specific kind of processing. Processing physical experience through the mental circuits is like running electricity through stainless steel wire instead of copper wire; it’ll work, but it isn’t super efficient.
Processing Jason’s death has taken up all of my emotional circuits and spilled out into mental and physical circuits. For most of the first year after he died, I couldn’t get warm. My physical circuits were trying to process emotion through the means they had, which meant my temperature regulation tanked. My mental circuitry was trying too, but it just made me spacey and out of it. Because the other kinds of circuits weren’t set up to handle emotions. Instead, those circuits found paths that they knew and translated the emotions into other sensations, like being cold.
Though the being cold thing was annoying, I could take a hot shower and get warm enough to crawl under my 5 quilts and be warm enough to fall asleep. More of a struggle has been how the emotional pain of grief has translated into actual physical pain. I’ve gotten phantom aches in just about every joint in my body (though especially my wrists, shoulders, and knees). I have a sharp stabbing chest pain that lasts for anywhere from one breath to a few minutes and comes on several times a week. My legs ache at the end of the day, no matter how far I’ve walked or what surface I’ve been walking on. These phantom pains are why it was hard for me to know if I was symptomatic when I contracted Lyme’s disease. (It seems likely that I was slightly symptomatic and that they symptoms went away after 21 days of antibiotics, so hopefully I don’t have Lyme’s anymore.)
I think my circuits are still over-taxed and I no longer have a person to let me bring my guard down completely. So, I hurt. I have a very poor verbal filter. I need a lot of sleep. I need a lot of down time. This is my current normal.