My Book: A Guide to Self Care

I wrote this book to nourish your experience of surgery and other trauma, and to offer tools to help you go beyond the conventionally accepted level of recovery. It guides you participate actively throughout your recuperation and health maintenance. It also provides a window for loved-ones and care-givers who wish to more deeply understand the experience of those recovering from physical challenges. The original working title was Finding Your Balance.

Recovery, in the deep and lasting sense, means that you are a new person as result of the the healing process. You can be more balanced than the person you were before facing the trauma. This book will help you learn how to maintain this new perspective, your body and mind and meeting the challenges of life together. Read on to get a taste of each chapter.

Healing Hip, Joint and Knee Pain:
A Mind-Body Guide to Recovery from Surgery and Injuries

Kate S. O’Shea MA
Published by North Atlantic Books

“At times, some wounds are like cages.”
Read the book that opens doors…

Chapter 1: A Question of Balance

“Mr. Duffy lived a little distance from his body.”
~ James Joyce, A Painful Case

If you are like many people, your experience with conventional medical practitioners feels out of balance, as if something is missing. You are right, there is something missing. Health care in America has grown up under a system that prizes the scientific method above all else. The body has been separated from the humanity of the individual. Most medical people are thoughtful and do their best to give personal care, but are engulfed by the crush of time and professional conventions. As “patients,” we learn to ignore our inner selves from the medical system’s example. This is a great tragedy. We doubt our ability to improve our own condition, relying on pills and doctors to “fix” us. This book teaches you how to become more knowledgeable about yourself, giving you tools to bring yourself back into balance…

Chapter 2: Moving Back into Your Body

“There’s no place like home.”
~ Dorothy

Modern medical treatment has a tendency to inspire the “get me outta here!” response in patients. When we can’t physically leave, we may remove ourselves mentally from the stressful situation. This self-protective reflex may have its place, but not in the day to
day maintenance of health. We must appreciate the power of this interruption of our mind-body integration, and how it can occur, to understand the scope of balance that we need to thrive…

Chapter 3: Love and Acceptance

“Out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing
there is a field, I’ll meet you there.”

~ Rumi

Learning self-love and acceptance is one of life’s greatest challenges. As we grow up, we invent and absorb a wide variety of “shoulds” about all aspects of our lives. This is especially true for our bodies. Most of us feel our body should look a certain way. We
expect it to function perfectly and always be there to support us. All our parts should last forever, regardless of genetics or wear. So, when our body starts to hurt or develops a problem that requires surgery, and perhaps replacement, it can shake our basic foundations.
Often we reject or isolate the “problem,” the way a difficult child may be pushed aside in a family…

Chapter 4: Supporting Yourself

“Animate the earth within us:
We then feel the Wisdom underneath supporting all.”

~ Neil Douglas-Klotz, Prayers of the Cosmos

When I looked up “support” in my computer’s thesaurus, these words were listed: livelihood, maintenance, sustenance, backing, promotion, blessing, favor, succor, brace, foundation, reasoning, bolster, strengthen, advance, advocate, champion. The antonyms of support
include opposition, weaken and neglect. These are all powerful words when applied to health and rehabilitation. Will we strengthen or weaken ourselves? Will we maintain or neglectourselves? Do we believe we can sustain ourselves, or will we deny our abilities? Again,
the concerns of health become the metaphoric questions about how we live our lives…

Chapter 5: The Bermuda Triangle

“…And only if we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells
us that we must trust in the difficult, then what appears to us as the most alien will
become our most intimate and trusted experience…
Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that
wants our love.”

~ Rainier Maria Rilke

The Bermuda Triangle is a stretch of sea in the North Atlantic legendary for the unexplained disappearances of ships and planes that cross into its borders. Like the Bermuda Triangle, the triple whammy of pain, fear and depression ambushes many an unsuspecting person,
capsizing personal progress and happiness. These emotional tidal waves can be beneficial when understood as timely opportunities to grow and change. In this chapter we will examine the interlocking dynamics of the pain-fear-depression triangle and explore ways to use it constructively…

Chapter 6: Listening to the River

“The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self knowledge has no end
– you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.”

~ J. Krishnamurti

This chapter provides a variety of tools for increasing your emotional awareness and self-knowledge. Finding your balance after surgery or injury includes observing and accepting how the physical trauma affected you emotionally. Knowing what you feel below the
surface clears your mind of unnecessary static and guards against emotions stifling your flexibility and health. We each have our own rhythms and preferences. There is no right or wrong way to proceed. I have included several techniques so that you can discover what
suits your taste…or you can invent your own. The key to emotional awareness is taking the time to listen to your inner process with respect and appreciation – a little humor doesn’t hurt, either!…

Chapter 7: Self in Motion

“And in that moment, when the body became action,
the leg, the flesh became quick and alive,
the flesh became music, incarnate solid music.
All of me, body and soul, became music in that moment.”

~ Oliver Sacks, i>A Leg to Stand On

Life is movement. Within us and around us there is constant movement of molecules – air, fluids, solids – each touching and being touched. Each encounter is new. Just as the flow of traffic can become congested, we may stop the movement within ourselves. This is
especially true when our body has been injured or violated. There is a natural tendency to protect the traumatized area, to hold it still. This may be useful immediately following the trauma, but often the body “forgets” to release when the danger has passed. Chronic
tensions and fear create blocks to movement and circulation. Careful attention helps us to discover our inner points of gridlock, opening avenues to the natural flow of movement…

Chapter 8: Keeping Your Balance

“Each patient carries his own doctor inside him. We are best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.”
~ Albert Schweitzer

Many of us do not get inspired to care for ourselves until after a crisis occurs. The approach to self-awareness and care discussed in this book will be useful in crisis and will become second nature during more peaceful times. Our body is our home and as every
homeowner knows maintenance is an ongoing necessity: A preventative approach will avert problems in the future. I am not joking when I remind my clients that life is maintenance….

Chapter 9: Nourishment

“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a Spirit is manifest in the Laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we, with our modest powers, must feel humble.”
~ Albert Einstein

The essential element of my continued improvement, and the motivation for my professional practice, is my growing experience of the physical as spiritual. Spiritual defined here as “personal awareness of dimensions of existence which extend beyond the physical domain but also encompass the physical.” What is commonly thought of as physical is also non-physical.We must attend to both to maintain balance…

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