(Yeah, it's yet another one of those posts. You know, about my pain, the non-refundable lemon that is my body.)
For those of you who are Facebook friends (which is probably all of you who are reading this) you'll probably have gathered by now that, although it's Monday, I am not slaving away at my day job in Sacraghetto but, in fact, in Palo Alto.
Why am I here? Oy... honestly, if it wasn't for the fact that so many of you have asked, I'd not be posting this because really I don't know where to start.
Hopefully by now you're up-to-date with where we left off on my journey to rid myself from life-altering pain, discomfort, and a succession of seemingly unrelated injuries. If not, I recommend you do some historical reading on this blog for posts tagged with "pain", otherwise this post might be out-of-context for you.
Where I left off was with a sense of hopefulness after forking out $5k to a local chiropractor who was deploying a broad variety of therapies on me to try and fix my multitude of pain and functional issues - including some brain-based therapies to target what had become the black hole of my mind: forgetfulness, mental fog, depression, poor balance, and poor reactions. I had experienced some relief and things looked to be going in the right direction.
Yeah, well, my body decided it didn't like that direction after all and did a firm 180, right back to square one. Memorial Day weekend, I spent most of my time laying flat on my back, unable to so much as even sit up straight because of the pain, tightness and pressure in my neck, shoulders and upper back. It literally felt as though my body didn't want to hold my neck up any more.
And, although I know we all have bad days, the reality is that, when I go through these episodes they last weeks or months, not days, with no real relief inbetween. Knowing that, I'm not ashamed to say that my mental/emotional health sort of collapsed on me again that weekend. I was angry/sad/heartbroken/frustrated. I just didn't want to go through the process of recovering again, I just wanted to opt out. I was (am) so mentally, emotionally, and physically tired of it all. Not just the pain but the chiropractor visits but the new diet; the constant vigilance over every movement my body makes; the inability to get my body strong without hurting myself; watching the clock until I could lay down at bedtime; realizing I was being a emotionally unavailable wife, mother, and daughter and not having the energy left to do anything about it. (And that's only the tip of the iceberg.) I was so tired of freaking FAILING at this. Failing at being a mother. Failing at being a wife. Failing at existing. (And I don't want any shit about how it's not "failing" This is my emotion. It doesn't have to be right or rational.) I wished there was a plane I could get on to escape my own life, my own body.
After a few days of feeling thoroughly sorry for myself (obviously), I took a deep breath and did what every good, internet-obsessed, 21st century woman does: I started Googling.
A week or so before, I had taken my x-rays from my chiropractor to my new/old primary care physician. Remember, I quit the last PCP after he told me to take some NSAIDs for my "little pains here and there"? Anyway, I went back to my old doc whose bedside manner I loved but who is in a terrible medical group. She looked at my x-rays and confirmed I have Scoliosis. Finally an official confirmation of what I suspected. But when I asked her what to do about it, she basically said I was born this way and there was not much I could do. All of which is bullshit of course because, if I was born this way then one would have imagined that I would have been in this much pain all my life - which I haven't - and then there is the inconvenient fact that my pelvis (which is now rotated and off-kilter) actually x-rayed as level back in 2008 before my hip surgery. Anyway, the point of this is that I finally Googled "scoliosis treatment".
Which led me here - http://www.schrothmethod.com/ - and to learning about the Schroth method of physical therapy, which is designed specifically to treat scoliosis sufferers.
Not wanting to purchase a voluminous book without really understanding what that was all about, I emailed the publisher to see if he/she knew of anyone in Sacraghetto that was qualified in this type of PT. Of course, since there are only a handful of Schroth qualified physical therapists in the U.S. (incidentally a heck of a lot more in Europe) and there was not one in Sac (grrr on the whole b-market frustrations again). However, the publisher said that he, personally, had scoliosis and had been treated by a lady in Palo Alto who "cured" him with one set of sessions.
Dubious about the whole "cure thing" (I mean, hell, your spine is curved, that sounds like a tall order for anyone) I emailed Beatriz Torres (http://www.scoliosispt.net/) of Palo Alto and she responded within minutes. $2k, 4 days, 20 hours, to teach me how to manage my scoliosis and reduce my pain. It's an indication of how desperate I was that I agreed on-the-spot, took the last 4 days on her calendar, and arranged time off work to be there - no questions asked.
Hence, why I am here in Palo Alto.
I just finished day 2 of treatment and I don't know how to summarize, to be honest. It is just... so much. It's overwhelming how much is out-of-whack in my body. From LITERALLY the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes and everything inbetween. And I mean everything. I am even learning to massage the fascia of my face because, apparently the left side of my face is tight and grimacing while my lower jaw is moving to the left.
I'm re-learning to sit, to stand, to walk, to write, to drive, to sleep, to breath... to just... be. It's exhausting. Not because it's physically hard work, not like a heavy workout or something (which would be welcome), but it's mentally frustrating and exhausting to retrain your body to do basic things. And then to realize that this is not just something you do for a few hours a day, this is now your life.
To give you some indication of how alien and hard some of the things are that I'm being asked to do, I give you this example:
Try to move the left side only of your lumbar region - L1 through L3 - forward. Without moving anything else - your shoulders, your hips, your head... NOTHING. Feel like a string is pulling the left side of your vertabrae toward the front of your body and rotating it a little inward. Now, if by some magic hand you've figured that part out, it's time to isolate your T6 and T7 vertabrae on the right side only and pull those forward and rotate slightly inward. But don't let your right shoulder roll forward, in fact, pull that back at the same time. Oh, and don't forget your pelvis, move it to the left a few degrees. Now lean back at L4, just L4 mind you, to create a curve in your spine. Wait! Wait! Don't let your sternum pop up. Relax that part but without anything else changing.
Yeah, right. Good luck with that.
I'm sure it all works but I just don't seem to be able to open up the brain or emotional space to embrace it all right now.
Plus, there's the fact that these treatments always come with these therapists who promote things like relaxation, meditation, slowing down, and all other kinds of woohoo-mojo. Why, in the name of God, can I not find an a-type personality who does this stuff? Being lectured about slowing down or meditating, only makes my heart accelerate and my stress increase. I. DON'T. WANT. TO. STAY. HOME. AND. EFFING. MEDITATE!!!!! Ok? I am already bored stiff with the ordinariness of my life. I am just craving something more. So, no, I don't want to take 15 minute naps throughout the day. I want to fix this body so I can live life. Not in a plastic bubble of "untroubled and peaceful serenity". I am not the Dalai Lama!!!! Bottom line: I already feel like I am "losing me" in all of this. And I liked me, I really did. What I need is to figure out how to be me with this body. What I don't need is the kind of advice that says "Don't take your daughter to the grocery store any more because of the stress on your back." Yeah, that's right, this is the level of guidance I'm being given: to get up at 6am so I can find the time to go grocery shopping alone. I. DON'T. WANT. TO. GO. GROCERY. SHOPPING. ALONE.
And let's not forget that I'm supposed to forego all other kinds of exercise: my beloved weight-training, pilates, yoga, biking... how the hell am I supposed to be fit?
Since I am learning to walk like a catwalk model (don't worry if the next time you see me, I appear to be auditioning for America's Next Top Model), my homework for tonight is to go to Victoria's Secret and observe the posture of the mannequins.
So, I'd better get on that. Until tomorrow...