Archive for November, 2013

November 12, 2013

Breakthroughs: Going Through The (E)Motions

ImageCoyote … you devil!You tricked me once more!
Must I sit and ponder,
What you did it for?

It’s fall, autumn, that time of year that my outdoor energy gravitates indoors where its warm.  It is also the time of year when I become more introspective.

The past year was pretty incredible for me.  I took a 9 month certification course, started an Urban Farm in my front yard and I injured myself.  I’m sure those who know me aren’t all that surprised for the latter.  I seem to have a knack for doing this.

The injury is deep in my hip. After nearly six months of wishing the pain away, taking prescription pain killers and trying to proceed with life as usual even though my body wasn’t playing along, I finally went to see my doctor and got an MRI.  Upon seeing the results she suggested I go to BodyWorks Physical Therapy.  At first I wasn’t interested.  I did physical therapy somewhere else for my back last fall and after spending thousands of dollars I was really no better the day I left there than the day I walked in, at least not what I went in for.  However, when she described this therapy to me, I was intrigued. 

Eventually, I agreed to go.  If they could help me walk without collapsing, and go up stairs in the normal fashion instead of scooting myself backwards while sitting on the steps, then it was definitely worth a shot.  Besides that, walking with a limp, stiff and hunched over like I was 95 years old was getting old too, especially since I’m still fifty-plus years away from that!

So I went.  And thus started on a journey to healing that I never expected.  BodyWorks Physical Therapy is based on myofascial release physical therapy with other forms of therapy mixed in.  I’ve been learning that the fascia is strongly connected not only to our motions, but to our emotions.  I’ve been going to therapy twice a week for a little over a month and the progress has been pretty amazing.  In fact, today, on my way into my appointment I was pretty proud of myself: I’ve been doing my stretches at home, not everyday, but at least a few days a week, I’ve seen progress both in my hip and back (leftover from last year) and other than a new pain in my upper back, things are really starting to look up.

Today was assessment day.  I was a few minutes (okay, more like 10) late for my appointment because I didn’t have time or rather, make time, to fill out the assessment form that they sent yesterday, so I sat in the parking lot and filled it out before I went in.  In my mind I thought it was better to be late with my homework done than to be on time without it. 

When my appointment started, my therapist told me we were going to focus on the assessment today more than therapy.  (Kind of a bummer but a necessity,)  As he started reviewing the form, he commented that I didn’t have any goals.  I laughed and replied “I didn’t fill that out?” realizing that while completing the form, I skipped the goals, with the intention of going back to them, I didn’t. Still laughing, I said,  “I guess I’m goalless.”  My therapist didn’t laugh.  He proceeded to tell me how important goals are and that if I don’t have any, that they (all of the therapists at BodyWorks) feel sorry for me. If I’m not connecting the daily exercise to the goals or I have no goals, then I’m just going through the motions. (At this point I’d already confessed that I have been doing the exercises, but not daily.) He continued, telling me that if truly have goals I will journal about the goals and journal about the pain.  I was sinking with each word that left his mouth.  My spirits, that were lifted, floating like a helium balloon as I entered the room, quickly fell to the floor. Deflated. Lifeless.

Much as I wanted to be mad at him, I knew I was really only directing my anger and disappointment in myself in his direction. His words hit me like a ton of bricks.  “I journal!” I responded, trying to defend myself, “… but I’ve never written about any of this…”  The more I thought about it the more I realized he was right.  If I were really committed to my goals I wouldn’t have been late, today or any other day.  I would have come on time or even early, with my homework done.  It didn’t matter that I was late because I was doing my stretches and lost track of the time.  If I’m really committed to getting better then I would find a way to get my stretches/exercises in every day, no matter what, and on a schedule that wouldn’t make me late to anywhere I might be going.  The stretches that I need a helper, I would let my family know that this is really important to me and my healing and that I need their help, every day.  Oh, yes, this hurt all right.  Acknowledging that I’d been playing games with myself was painful.  I think that’s what they refer to as a harsh reality, isn’t it?  The truths hurts, so to speak. 

The realization that I have been in the way of my own healing hurts too. Stunned, the tears streamed down my cheeks.  My therapist responded with, “Whatever emotions are going on in there, related to this… you need to feel them and let them out.”  All I could muster up for a response was, “Uh, huh.”

As the assessment went on I asked about some of the exercises.  I told him that one of the stretches still really hurts and asked it that pain will eventually go away.  His response?  “Not until you talk to it and ask it what is going on, why it’s there and release the emotions you have in there.”  “Shit.” I thought but responded with, “Okay.”  At the end he told me I only have 6% improvement.  I tried explaining that it was skewed by the new pain in my upper back.  He entered info into his laptop but didn’t acknowledge what I had said.  He wasn’t being rude, he just wasn’t going to humor me, just like he didn’t with the goals or any number of other things that had come up during the appointment.  That’s when it hit me that this is no joking matter.  If I want to fully recover then I really need to take this seriously, all of it.  Then the appointment was over.  He wished me a nice afternoon.  I managed to muster up enough friendliness to return the gesture.

After I gathered my things I humbly left the room and headed out of the office.  The receptionist gave a friendly goodbye and I respectfully gave her one in return, but as I smiled in her direction I felt more like crying.  I don’t remember much of the walk back to my car.  Instead I was lost in thought, processing the pain, the games I play with myself and trying to figure out why I play them.  I fought back tears every step of the way (obviously not letting my emotions out like he’d suggested).  As I approached my car I couldn’t help but laugh.  Just an hour earlier I thought I was doing pretty well.  I was happy, upbeat, I was even patting myself on the back for the “progress” I had made.  Funny how that turned around in such a short period of time!  Then I remembered something else: each physical therapy room in BodyWorks has a room themed with one of the Native American Animal Medicine Cards, there is usually a picture of that animal on the wall, along with other related items in the room and of course, the medicine card for that animal…  I was in the Coyote room today.  I remember walking into the room looking at Coyote on the wall and thinking, “Oh, boy.  What are you going to do to me today?”

If you’re not familiar with Animal Medicine Cards, Coyote is the Trickster.  This quote is taken from the book Medicine Cards, by Jamie Sams and David Carson (also the card on the wall of the room).

There are thousands of myths and stories about Coyote, the great trickster.  Many Native cultures call Coyote the “Medicine Dog.”  If you pull this medicine card, you can be sure that some kind of medicine is on its way – and it may or may not be to your liking.  Whatever the medicine is, good or bad, you can be sure it will make you laugh, maybe even painfully.  You can be sure that Coyote will teach you a lesson about yourself.

Much as I didn’t want to encounter you today, thank you, Coyote, for helping me see the games I’ve been playing with myself, preventing me from achieving the successes I want.  Thank you for making me question and ask myself why I play these games, making me realize that pain, illness and injury are the only “excuses” I allow myself to slow down or to say, “no” to others.  Thank you for helping me see what my goals are and helping me realize how important they are in life. Thank you for taking the blinders off of me, allowing me to see what I want to be doing and feel what doing something that isn’t true to who I am and what I am called to do is doing to my body. And thank you for helping me remove the excuses and road blocks I’d put up, giving me the courage to write again. 

Thank you, Coyote.

Kate

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