Self-care in action

Welcome! I want to share this email I recently received. The 63 year old writer shares how she works consciously with her physical challenges to make her life more comfortable physically and emotionally. She graciously gave me permission to quote her story in it’s entirety below. I hope you are inspired by her active involvement in her own well-being….

Subject: I love your book

Dear Kate,

I bought your book Finding Your Balance because I feel my own balance is a little undependable sometimes. I thought your book was about balance when walking or standing…that kind of balance. I got the book but found it wasn’t what I was looking for and disappointed I put it on a shelf and forgot about it.  But tonight, for some reason I picked it up and started reading in the middle of it and realized you had something amazing to say and I might learn something anyway even though it wasn’t what I thought it was. So I went back to the beginning to read it.

Now I have had so many experiences that seem to align and affirm what you are saying and I wanted to share  a few of them with you. Back in 2005, my dogs (each weighing about 60 pounds a piece)  unexpectedly pulled me into the street while I was walking them and I feel and dislocated my shoulder and tore my rotator cuff. The orthopedic doctor told me it wouldn’t get better without an operation and I told him that was ridiculous. “That’s what the body does…it repairs itself, right?” I told him. He argued with me and sent me to Physical Therapy and told me to come back when they could raise my arm above my head and he would operate on me then.

I found a lady I knew who told me the same thing had happened to her and she healed herself without an operation. That’s all I needed was the one “white crow” to prove white crows could exist. I worked diligently at my rehab and pushed myself to the limit. And within about 3 months or so, I had healed myself. I walked into the doctors office and raised my own arm up above my head and said, “See I told you so”. I had healed myself without his operation.

Then in 2009, again it was the dogs who saw a squirrel and took off running after them. Unfortunately I had momentarily put the leashes around my wrist and couldn’t let go. They spun me around and I went down hard on the sidewalk. I landed on my hip hit and the pain was terrible. An MRI revealed that I had cracked my pubis ramis bone. This was worse than my shoulder.

If anyone including me touched or moved my leg, the pain was so bad it made me nauseous and I was that way for several days in the rehab hospital. Then I realized it had to be my mind doing that and I asked a friend to hypnotize me. She said all she ever did was hypnotize people to get them to stop smoking and had no experience doing what I wanted her to do. But she said, “You know, you have the power to do that to yourself. You know that your mind is causing the excruciating pain and you can tell it to stop. Just go inside before you move around (eg. go to the bathroom or move from the bed to the wheelchair, etc) and calm yourself and tell yourself your mind doesn’t have to clamp down on the muscles (I had told her I felt my muscles squeezing tight from fear which caused the pain) and it turned out she was so right. The accident happened on Sunday and by Wednesday I had just one episode of that horrible pain and by Thursday, I had stopped the reaction. I was able to hypnotize myself and get control. It still took several months of rehab and tough exercise, etc, but I had learned from my experience with my shoulder that the harder I pushed myself, the faster I would recover. Again both my doctors as well as my physical therapist said they couldn’t believe how fast I had recovered.

But there was something else you talked about with regards to hips and movement which made me remember something about my recovery. There was a point at which I had been able to let go of my walker and I could finally get my right leg to move forward and take steps. I was walking but ever so stiff and my steps were awkward and just wrong. I found myself going inside and observing every single movement and lack there of and comparing my movements to others whom I watched from behind and realized that to really walk normally, I would have to incorporate lots of subtle rolling and tipping movements in my hips that would allow me to look normal again. I broke it down in my mind and my being and could feel where I was stiff and what needed to be made more fluid. It was a very internal and deliberate study that I made on myself whenever I walked. And I struggled to make myself move more fluidly. There was so much mental stuff going on and then, of course, I surprised everyone as I returned to normal far sooner than the doctors expected that I would be able to do so.

I just didn’t realize that recovery from a broken or dislocated bone situation can be so psychological. But I am one who totally believes in the body’s ability to heal itself. Oh and one more thing about my recovering pubic bone. When I fell, I scraped my elbow badly and had a scabby sore on my elbow. As the days and weeks went by, I kept watching that scabby mess heal and told myself that the bone inside my body was healing at the same rate. Each day I could see improvement on my elbow and I knew that my pubic bone was progressing in the same way. It was like a visual understanding of what was going on inside of me. I also craved sunshine to help with my repair and found a patio that no one used which could still get the sun in the December afternoons. So I found a way to wheel myself up there and would call the nurses and have them deliver my lunch up there and I would stay up there for a few hours so that the sun would nourish me and help work on the repair of my bone.

That was two years ago when I was 63 years old. My bones have always been strong because I have walked at least an hour every day with my dogs. The doctor made me have a bone density test when that happened and he told me that there was nothing wrong with my bones, but I just had hit the sidewalk with such force that it cracked me. I still walk every day but I am far more careful now and I never put the leashes around my wrist to where I can’t let go if they go running after something.

I just thought you might like to know about how my mind helped me to heal. I have a brother who has had 9 knee operations and he last one was his first knee replacement and I will send him your book as he will also have the other one replaced in a few months. And also a cousin who is about to have a hip replacement and possibly a knee replacement after that, so I should send it to him as well. I think your insight into how you need to love and accept your new body parts are really critical and important for anyone going through such an experience.

Thank you,

Tamar Brooks, Los Angeles