Monday, June 17, 2013

Core Stabilization and Strrrrretching!

I had another physio visit yesterday at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. With a lilting Irish accent, David watched my gait, and pronounced it 'goot'. He said, however, that I need to lengthen my hip flexors and energize my transverse abdominals. The pain in my hip flexors over the past years had caused me to increase the curve in my lumbar spine, relaxing my abs.

Core Stabilization
David asked me to lie on my back, knees bent. He put something slippery under my right foot, and his fingers lightly on my belly. He asked me to slide my foot away from me about a foot, then back. I told him I felt my abs working. David explained that my rectus femoris were working, when they should be relaxed. That my transverse abdominals aren't doing their work of stabilizing so I can move from the leg.

Then David offered a lovely image. To imagine my heart to be connected by a string to my diaphragm. As I inhale, the diaphragm bows downward, and the heart rises up, lengthening the string. With the exhale, the drum skin of the diaphragm  and the heart move towards each other, shortening the cord. He left me to breath like that for 5 minutes.

Then he asked me to picture the framework of core stabilization surround my core. The transverse abdominus as a girdle across my belly, and the multifidus winding through the erector spinae, stabilizing the back. At the top, the diaphragm, and at the base the pelvic floor. So ever since, I've been passing to check if I'm engaging, gently, this core support. 

As my core becomes more stable, my hip flexors and psoas are opening. Backbends feel awesome! I had not realized how omnipresent the sense of pain and tightness at the front of my hips had been. How when I lay on my back to stretch on leg, the hip flexor of the other leg was the first place I felt the stretch. 

I can also feel the beginnings of how glorious it is going to feel to stretch my inner thighs. The first place I felt pain was the right hip flexor, probably in 2002. The second was the inner thigh of the same leg, after a workshop in 2007. It never healed, both adductors becoming tighter and tighter, until when I tried stretching, it felt like pulling a thick robe. Solid. Immobile. Now the feel loose, fluid, willing to let go and elongate. But not yet.

The day before my birthday, July 18th, I have my 12 week visit with the surgeon. I'm hoping I get the go ahead to start some gentle stretching. Can't wait!

Today's Quote: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others

~ erroneously attributed to Nelson Mandela, actually written by Marianne Williamson. Let's send some healing thoughts to Mr. Mandela, hospitalized with a lung infection. He is 94 years old. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Prepare for the long haul

I've been told more than once that I limp less now than I did before my surgery. Which makes me want to consider my healing finished. But it's a long process. In fact, as I move forward, I realize that my sore hip was affecting me more than I understood.

It's a weird thing, how chronic pain seeps into one's life. At first a few twinges, a pulled muscle that doesn't go away. Pain after a long, beautiful walk with the dogs. I saw most clearly how far things had progressed when I saw myself through the eyes of my brothers and sister last Christmas.

I still have pain in my hip, but it's changing every day, for the better. I walked the dogs today, and felt a familiar lightness slipping into my psyche like an old friend turning up for coffee. I realize now in coming out of the pain how much it was affecting me. Much as I do my best to accept what each day brings, each 'no' carries a little sadness. Each 'sorry, I can't jump on the trampoline', or 'I wish I could come skiing too'. Even 'sorry, I can't help you with that', doesn't feel so good. 

Surgeon Visit
So I'm excited to be on the mend, to be moving forward, though my visit to the surgeon on Friday was a bit anti-climactic. He and the nurse were happy with my progress, and after watching me walk agree I'm okay to walk without a cane. 

The sad thing is the precautions stay. The family was hoping to say goodbye to the tall toilet seat, that gets stinky quickly. Not yet. So I still can't bend past 90 degrees, cross my right leg past the midline of my body, or twist at my right hip. For another 6 weeks, and maybe another 6 months after that!

The Precautions Continue
Turns out the precautions are not just to avoid dislocation. It's important to allow the body to build some thick scar tissue around the joint capsule, for long-term stability in the joint. Sigh.

So, here are the things you get good at in the looooong recovery from hip replacement.

1. Golfer's Reach
Since you can't bend forward at the hip 
without going past the recommended
90 degrees, one leg trails out behind 
when you bend down to give the dogs 
their bowls, sweep fluff into a dustpan 
or...pick up a golf ball.
2. Sock Pulling
I have borrowed this ingenious contraption, called the sock pull. It makes it easy to put a sock on my right foot, since I can't bend towards that leg. 

3. Uneven Downward Dog
This is how I get up and down from the floor, through a downward dog with my right leg extended. It makes me think of older students, who have looked at me with disbelief when I asked them to sit on the floor.

4. Asking for Help
I can't reach forward from sitting to pick up a cup from the coffee table. So I ask for help a lot. It's a good thing.

I'm doing my best to stay patient, to be in each day, and not look forward to the day the precautions are off and I can stretch my muscles out. It's going to feel sooo good! But I'm not looking forward to it or anything. Not at all. ;)

Today's Quote: There is no way to Happiness. Happiness is the way. ~ Buddha