Sometimes I forget how little it takes.
Or sometimes, that it takes nothing at all.

It's 3am and the storm has passed.
An hour ago, I was in bed with my eyes squeezed shut and my back bowed.

The muscles from the top of my left shoulder to my hip cramped so hard that I could feel the spasms firing off like firecrackers under my skin. With the muscles pulled tight, breathing in deeply caused the pain to get worse. All of my non-drug pain relief measures require deep breathing to work. My jaw clenched so tight that I couldn't even call out for help. My husband was too far away to reach so I was on my own.

Within minutes I was soaked in sweat, taking shallow breaths, and counting for distraction. I visualized each muscle (to the best of my ability), lengthening, relaxing, smoothing out. For 30 minutes that did precisely nothing. Surprisingly, I kept calm because there was nothing else I could do. Crying would hurt more. Moving would hurt more.

So I stayed still.
And waited.
It'll pass. Pain that sharp never lasts. I just had to wait it out and not panic.
And then I remembered I have to dance later today.
I have to dance. It's been a week, and I can't bear the idea of going another week with no dancing. This has got to stop or I can't dance.

I started to panic. Actually, that's not right is it? How does one "start to" panic?
I panicked, period.
I forced myself to take deeper breaths to calm down.
The pain got worse, the fire crackers took longer to die out. And then they faded. As soon as I felt one muscle start to relax, I went back to visualizing the remaining muscles relaxing. This time it took. I deepened my breaths even more. And waited.

When I was no longer immobilized by the cramping, I rolled on my side, got up carefully and made my way to my medicine cabinet. I got a muscle relaxer and ibuprofen. As the last wave of pain subsided it felt like a fever broke and my shoulder, side and hip felt icy. Then warm again. I can still feel what seems like rocks under my skin where the muscle is still balled up and tight - but at least no longer cramping.

I'm sore and tired, but if I keep ahead of the pain, I'll be able to dance today.

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