Something has changed in me. Attribute it to waking up, growing wiser, or maybe finally regulating my brain chemistry with medicine, but it doesn’t really matter why I’ve changed: I’ve recently taken some concrete steps toward establishing a whole new paradigm of self-care. This new paradigm involves me being more honest about where I’m hurting, and actually doing something about it.
My right shoulder was injured in January 2011, when I threw myself (literally) back into climbing and attempted a route that was beyond my ability level. I simply didn’t have the strength to safely make the move I made, and when I asked my right arm and shoulder to hold the weight of my whole body in a quick dynamic move, they were all, No dice man! We can’t help you here! It took months for the pain to abate, and my shoulder has never been right since then. I have continued to teach yoga during that time, and because I teach beginners primarily, I have heavily relied on demonstrating the poses so that students can have a clue about where I want them to go. The chaturangas (yoga push ups) are really hard on the rotator cuff of the shoulder, and I’m pretty sure that asking an injured shoulder to perform over and over again really didn’t help with the healing process after my climbing booboo. Can you imagine the mental acrobatics I’ve had to put myself through to be okay with my drive to be an authentic yoga teacher, to help people feel better in their bodies, to heal from their injuries, when I was basically reinjuring myself repeatedly in the process of teaching?
For some reason, after three years of living with this injury, I finally got around to asking my doctor to refer me to a physical therapist. Sure, I had the referral for two and a half months before I got around to making the phone call, but last week I finally made the phone call. And today I finally saw a physical therapist.
He asked me what my goals were for my therapy. “I want to know what the injury is, and how I can heal it. I want to know how I can avoid reinjuring myself.” I found the guy to be very friendly, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic about his work. He took time answering my questions. Teres minor. Part of the rotator cuff. Inflammation. Overcompensation. No scar tissue. Need to work on strengthening the other muscles of the rotator cuff so that the teres minor doesn’t have to work so hard, and the scapula can move in the way it was meant to.
Whew! What a relief to know that I didn’t have any scar tissue or tears. He gave me some exercises to do every day for a week, and told me to come back to see if anything changes. The power to heal my body is in my hands. I thanked the physical therapist for his time and for his suggestions, and went home wondering why I didn’t take care of this sooner.
Well, probably because you were depressed. Probably because you were stuck in a place where you thought there wasn’t enough time to take care of yourself, and you thought that you didn’t have enough support to be able to take moments out of your regular schedule to get your health in order. Probably because on some level you thought the pain was normal, and you thought it would be there forever. Just like the pain in your mind.
Getting answers was so satisfying. Even more satisfying was the acknowledgement that I had finally showed up for myself.
I’m going to be seeing several more health care providers this week for various things that I’ve let go until now. I really hope that I can keep this momentum going and continue with whatever treatments are working.
I only have one body. Might as well take care of it.