Is it time?

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Is it time to take care of yourself?

And what does that even mean?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how difficult it is to navigate chronic abdominal pain and dysfunction.

I’m guessing that most of you found this website because you have this really significant problem of abdominal distress and you are looking for answers, knowledge, and some measure of reassurance that you’re not alone and that you’re not crazy. And you want to know that there is something that can be done about it.

(p.s. You are not alone or crazy, and there is something to be done about it.)

And yet, taking that next step to do something about it can seem so monumental. Leaving aside the perceived (and sometimes real) barriers of not enough time, money, or assurance that this will make a difference, let’s just consider for a moment how hard it is to function and make decisions in the midst of chronic pain and dysfunction.

Confusion, anxiety, and fear reign when we cannot escape the distress signals of our body and mind. And in that context, how can we possibly be asked to “take care” of ourselves? The idea of it can be maddening.

And yet . . .

silly duck 

What if “taking care” of yourself doesn’t mean doing everything all at once? What if you can take care of yourself not with a frantic searching and doing of everything that might help all at once right now or, alternately, being frozen in place doing nothing . . . but rather with gentle determination and relaxed focus on one step and then the next?

Sound like a pipe dream? I don’t think it is. I do, however, think it’s not easy to do. Believe me, I’ve been the person both frozen in inaction and frantically going to four health appointments every week, scratching at my pain cage, trying to get out. But in this recent flare, I’ve been working with this kind of open, relaxed awareness of taking the next step and then the next.

If you’re not used to it, this step-path toward resolving your abdominal distress can feel very scary. It can feel like you’re sort of floating out there, not sure where your supports are, not sure what comes next.

What helps this sense of insecurity?

As always, I think it’s self-connection. Being able to connect into your own belly and have your own deeply informed sense of what is going on. We are not always accurate about what is or isn’t causing our distress – definitely not. But totally regardless technical accuracy, your experience of your own belly is essential in the healing process.



I truly believe that, in the end, you are your own best support. Yes, we absolutely need the support and knowledge and wisdom and help of others. And if our starting point, our grounding point, is our own experience of our own self, then all of that external support can be so much more effective, so much more easily received and integrated into our health.

So, today’s belly “tip” is less technique-oriented than usual. Today, I really encourage you to use the connecting-into-the-belly techniques I’ve talked about in past blog posts, newsletters and online (hands on belly, breathing, alert to what you are really feeling). And then from that space in which you know your own belly, allow yourself to take that next step into . . .

  • learning self-care?
  • beginning treatment with a practitioner?
  • trying a new practitioner if you’re not resonating with your current one?
  • trying to relax into your pain rather than fighting it?

I don’t know what your next step is, but I’ll bet you do. Own it. And love yourself.



Author Profile

Isabel Spradlin
Isabel Spradlin
Isabel Spradlin is a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and abdominal adhesion specialist in Portland, OR. She specializes in educating people about manual treatment (massage) for abdominal pain and dysfunction, especially when it is adhesion related. Please see the "Programs" page to see her offerings.

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