Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Things I'm happy to say goodbye to.

Well, I had this beautiful long post all written, and it vanished into cyberspace. Has that happened to you? Kinda took the wind out of my blogging sails for awhile. I'll rewrite it - I think - but in the meantime here's what I've been simmering on lately. 

Welcome Post-Surgery Changes

1. No more tension in my right hip
When standing, I would often notice the external rotators of my right hip (aka my right butt cheek) clenched. I would relax them, only to notice them tense again moments later. I'm sure this was a holding pattern in reaction to pain. Now, though my hip still hurts a bit from the surgery, this butt-squeezing has melted away. When I check in, I notice myself standing evenly on both feet, with no extra tension. There is still a little tightness, but I'm thinking I need to do some hip-swaying dance to relax my hips, get them swinging with my stride again. Bellydance, anyone?

2. No more pain at front of my right ankle
The morning after dance class, and after karate, as well as during yoga practice, the corner where the front of my ankle joins the top of my foot was sharply painful. The pain would abate, only to return the next week. After surgery - gone.

3. My toes touch
My right leg has been outwardly rotated at 45 degrees for a few years now. I remember the moment of deciding that forcing it to stay parallel in yoga practice created more pain in my hip, and wasn't useful. The muscles in the inner thigh are weak, and I get a certain knotting of the muscles at the front of the right hip when I walk uphill, which is the proper muscles remembering to work. But it is a joy to stand with my feet in Tadasana, mountain pose, all 10 toes facing the same direction. I love setting up for Urdva Danurasana, a backbend, and just touching my toes together before I press up, to make sure both feet are parallel. Like rediscovering an old friend.

4. I'm taller!
I measured myself about a year ago, and I was 5'8". I couldn't believe it. I've been 5'9" since I stopped growing as a teen. I couldn't figure how I'd lost a whole inch. I think two things contributed. First, the compression in the hip joint with the deterioration of cartilage. Second, the pain was causing my hip flexors/psoas to shorten, making me stand with my pelvis tipped forward, my lower back arched. i realize how much, as I rehabilitate and stand straighter. There is a sweet, spacious feeling  across the front of my hips into my belly. So I measured myself just for fun the other day, and there I was 5'9" again! I feel like I was given something back I didn't know I'd lost.

5. I can run!
Well, not like I'm going to do a marathon anytime soon, but at least I could run for the bus if I had to. At some point in the last couple of years I stopped being able to run. It's hard to explain why. It was partly pain, but also I just felt to stiff to run. I spontaneously broke into a run the other day, just because I could. Only from the car to house. It felt wonderful!

6. More mobility = more enjoyable walking
Sashia on the pipeline
I realized on my walk today how much easier it is to walk up hills, and on uneven terrain. Before surgery, it was getting tough to step over logs, and I felt a bit unstable and scared of falling. The tightness in my inner thighs hindered my mobility, as did the limited range of motion in my hips. Last week I graduated from sticking to the pipeline (an old, unused pipe that's like a sidewalk behind our property), to following trails and deertrails up the hills and through the underbrush. I'm not completely healed up yet, but I'm so happy to be able to move again.

Isn't this an amazing journey? I feel blessed to have fallen into that hole of reduced mobility and pain, and be lucky enough to come back out again. It changes you, living with pain. It's different, learning to be a person who has to say 'sorry, I can't', instead of one who says 'sure, let me do that!' 

It's good to know both sides, to learn empathy for others. I have much more understanding these days of seniors, of others with disabilities. I am better at slowing down to help, to be patient, to offer a kind word. I know what it feels like not to be able to trust your body. To wonder whether or not to say how much you hurt. Sharing our pain, and our joy, is the way to empathy and compassion.

Today's Quote: There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from. - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


  1. Nice post Anthea. It is hard to imagine you being even MORE empathetic than you were... but I will take your word for it. Nice pic of Sashia on the pipeline!

  2. Thanks, Memet! I think more empathy is always better. We are all one, after all!