Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Change: 7

(This is an ongoing story. If you want to start at the beginning, click here.)

The next thing that happened during that first session was a little weirder.

Even though Scott had told me he had cried when he was with AE, I was completely unprepared for how it came about.

AE spent a lot of time “releasing fascia” in my midsection and, other than now being able to breathe fully and deeply, her work there didn’t seem to have any effect. Nothing felt better, nothing felt worse. It wasn’t like a massage, where someone is working on a part of you that becomes loose and relaxed and then they move to another part of you. AE concentrated on my torso for nearly an hour, gently pressing here and then there, with seemingly no rhyme or reason.

Then she was done and she moved up to my right shoulder.

Aside from my “non-painful” knee pain, I have had two other structural issues that have given me grief for the past several years: right hip and right shoulder.

I call it my “right hip” but probably more accurate is my “right glutes” – in other words, my butt.  I have “pulled” this muscle many times playing tennis, and it’s usually a mystery how it happens. It’s not like I would lunge or twist or leap like a superhero to make a particular shot. I would just step a certain way and, boom, something would seize up and I would be out of commission for weeks.

I am a big believer in Dr. John Sarno’s theory that this kind of pain is mentally (not physically) induced.  Sarno says (in an oversimplified nutshell) that chronic, debilitating pain like this is often the result of your mind trying to distract you from intense, repressed feelings.  There’s so much to say about Sarno’s theory, I could write a book about it, but that is totally unnecessary, as he’s already written three or four on the subject. The point is, I completely buy what he says.  Especially when it comes to this kind of recurrent injury, where no doctors (not even “real orthopedists”) can seem to explain why this keeps happening or how to make it never happen again.

My shoulder pain was similar.  The first time it happened, I was playing tennis outdoors on a beautiful summer day. I was serving a lot, maybe a bit more than usual, and suddenly I felt kind of “done”.  I never feel this way playing tennis. I’m always the last to leave – like the one with the lampshade on her head at the party. But my arm felt weak so I stopped playing and then was in pain for nearly a year.

It was awful at first – it had me in tears a few times.  And then it was downgraded to “bad,” which is where it stayed indefinitely.  I couldn’t play tennis for a while and when I came back on the court I couldn’t serve or hit overheads for months and months. I probably tore something but I never got an MRI. Eventually it healed and I resumed regular tennis play.

Then, a few years later, it happened again, this time off of one serve. “I’m done,” I remember saying, and I walked off the court.

Again, I couldn’t play proper tennis for months. I got acupuncture and went to physical therapy and after about eight months it had gotten to a place where I could function almost normally again. But even “healed,” I had a lot of restriction in my movements. I couldn’t position my arm in certain ways – it simply wouldn’t go where it used to.

When AE moved to my right shoulder, I was nervous. Even though it had been two years since my last injury there, it still felt vulnerable. She “cupped” my shoulder with both hands, and as she did, I started to cry. It did not hurt physically, it was more like the crying of grief. It lasted for several minutes and then ended as mysteriously as it began. And in that instant I knew my shoulder was healed.


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