Cost-Benefit Analysis

Posted on April 29, 2020


“Is it worth it?”

is the question that precedes activity.

What will it cost? How much pain?


Purchase Number One

An hour’s walk (on pavement)

can cost as much as

the pain of two broken feet (plantar fasciitis),

the sensation of a broken collar bone,

numb hands, knee pain,

weakness and reduced range-of-motion

in my arms.

20200323_100545-1I walk every day, from

forty minutes to two hours–

it depends on what the body allows.

Recovery time: a few minutes

to a couple of hours.

A must-do, for overall wellness:

the cost is irrelevant.

On bad days,

I go slow and take small steps.


However, a walk on grass

is so cheap it’s free!


Purchase Number Two

The price of making tortillas, naan, or

Milk Bread dinner rolls

brings hot, searing pain

to my knuckles, wrists, elbows, and shoulders;

it lasts up to a day, day-and-a-half.

Afterward, my hands will be weak;

if my son isn’t home to open a jar for me,

I might have to eat something else.

(Cans now require an electric can opener.)

But when I taste the fresh, hot, delicious,

homemade bread,

whether bread that is flat,

or bread that has risen,

OHMYGOD, I’m willing to pay the price.

I make a double batch:

some for eating now,

some for the freezer.


Purchase Number Three

Gardening, like walking,

plays a key role

in my fitness plan.

I do it every day.

20200427_153302The cost can be as low as

a satisfying “muscle tired,”

remedied with a night’s sleep;

as high as

difficulty walking,

joint pain galore,

sciatic pain,

a kaleidoscope of nerve pain:

electrical pulses,

a feeling that a limb is suddenly

being utterly crushed,

the “claw hand” that won’t open,

weakness, exhaustion–

requiring up to four days

of taking it easy, going slow,

when holding a book to read

or typing can be a challenge.

I try to work within my limitations,

but I often over-do.

Folks worry that I’ll kill myself out there,

but I won’t mind if I do.


Purchase Number Four

The cost is high for this rare gem:

traveling distances over twenty miles.

Riding in a car puts pressure

on the nerves in my neck

and in my low back;

it sparks a constellation a pain:

hot searing, dull aching, electric pulse pain,

feel real stiff and walk real slow pain,

can’t tell if it’s neck, jaw, or head pain,

doesn’t matter, it’s just a house of pain,

and this is where I live.

I pay the price for taking a drive:

normally two days;

it can be five–

depending on conditions

and reasons for the drive.



How much?

How long?

What will I have to pay?



Suffering-benefit analysis, when living with chronic pain,

is the normal order of business day after day after day.


29 April 2020


The poem above is dedicated to my spine, the “decider” in my life. With 3 discs in my neck pressing on nerves due to insufficient spinal curve and degeneration, and a disc in my low back at 50% due to an injury, I’ve suffered from chronic pain since a car crash in 1991.

While my condition does place physical limits on me, it does not keep me from enjoying my life. Even when I’m in pain on a walk, I am utterly delighted to see Magnolia blooms or hear a Sand Hill Crane overhead. As one who has practiced meditation for several decades, I am very much attuned to “present moment, wonderful moment.”

I feel for anyone whose daily reality is chronic pain, and I know that there are a LOT of people who share this reality, many who never mention it. I want you to know: I see you. I know how every day–sometimes every minute–can be a struggle.

And yet, we carry on; we are strong. We do all that we can, and when we can do no more, we rest.

I put in a hard day in the garden the other day: I cut and moved sod for a 3′ x 20′ section of garden bed. Yesterday, I cleared mulch from a bed, seeded it with grass, watered it, then covered it with straw, then I mowed the back yard. Today, I slept in til 8! (I’m usually awake by 5.) And I’m TIRED. And SORE. And moving SLOW.

I almost didn’t write this blog, but I pushed myself to do this, because I want to keep my commitment to myself to post every week day, but dear readers, it’s a challenge to think clearly today. Getting this blog up may be the most strenuous task I attempt today. Spine says: “Today’s a self-care day.”

And I must obey.

Image may contain: night, sky and outdoorlisa eddy is a writer, researcher, educator, advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy

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