Self-Centred Newsletter* – August 30, 2023
|I’m learning a lot these days, living an isometric life. |
Allow me to share a glossary of terms:
the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.
1. of or having equal dimensions.
2. PHYSIOLOGY relating to or denoting muscular action in which tension is developed without contraction of the muscle.
Prehabilitation: the process of improving the functional capability of a patient prior to a surgical procedure so the patient can withstand any postoperative inactivity and associated decline. In other words, to get you to a better place physically before an operation. (American College of Physicians and Surgeons)
I’m waiting for knee replacements that may take up to a year and a half to happen, two years before rehab hopefully allows me to move freely in the world under my own steam. If it works…
Digesting and integrating that possibility has been, well, it’s been a lot.
My default brain* thinks things such as “I can’t wait two years to have my life back” “my body is broken” “my life is over because I can’t move the way I used to”
Bringing curious inquiry into those thoughts has been vital for my mental health.
Is this thought really true?
There’s a lot of internalized ableism embedded in that kind of thinking that could use some unpacking.
What are the ways of easing into kinder, gentler thoughts about my body, where it is, right here and now?
Where do I find life, right here, right now, in this body?
How can I bring myself to a better place?
Healing happens in community.
I believe this with all my heart, even if my head resists it.
It is so valuable to have someone to share my thoughts with, vulnerably and unedited. I am grateful for a partner who can be that someone for me, as well as beloved friends and practitioners. It takes a village.
Speaking my default thoughts into existence allows them to be transformed.
On the day that I got the news about the long wait for surgery, I sat on the treatment table with my physiotherapist and had a big snotty cry.
(Also want to speak to the value of big, snotty, public crying, whether it’s out of joy, or grief, hope, hopelessness, or because of a beautiful piece of music…. yes, I am a crier. Please pass the tissues.)
The big snotty cry in question started when I voiced the idea of waiting two years for my life to begin.
(It’s interesting to watch people respond to big, snotty, public cries – the physio intern asked me if I needed to be alone, to which I replied, no, but if my big, snotty, cry makes you feel uncomfortable, feel free to move somewhere that feels more comfortable for you. He stuck around.)
My physiotherapist and the sweet intern helped me to begin unpacking that default thinking that surely does nothing to serve me, to look at the ways of living in my body, right here, right now.
And they introduced me to the concept of ‘prehab’
It’s a word I hadn’t heard before, and it’s so much more hopeful than the fatalistic ‘my life is over before it’s begun’ default voice in my head.
Living, stretching, strengthening, expanding, in the body I have now is prehab.
It’s paving the way to what comes next, whatever that may be. It makes what comes next easier to integrate.
Then I thought “hey, maybe I’m in prehab for my brain too” but my physiotherapist explained that when referring to a chronic condition, the correct term to use is rehabilitation.
So, rewiring my brain is in fact rehab because it’s addressing an existing chronic condition. Ouch, and okay. I can live with that.
Thankfully, there’s neuroplasticity.
Easing into the thoughts and ideas around living, stretching, learning, expanding in the body I have now.
Stocking my pantry:
The idea is to create an individual movement pantry with a wide variety of options, allowing you to plan movement meals and create spontaneous movement snacks during the day, choosing from bespoke variety of movements that work for your body after checking in
(that’s the liberation part – traditional strength training relies a lot on metrics and averages, rules that apply in general, but don’t really work for individual bodies, especially when that body is senior, fat, femme, disabled and experiencing chronic pain)
I love this concept.
I mean, really. Food and cooking are definitely two of my love languages, so this metaphor totally works.
(I bought a rainbow recipe box to create a personal little movement library but haven’t actually gotten to doing that yet. Hello perfectionist procrastinator. I love you.)
Hannah has the unique gift of describing strength training concepts in a relatable, non-jock (that’s me) kind of way. She combines nervous system science, strength training, and body liberation in a way that makes movement accessible for me, in this body, here and now.
(and p.s. – REST is a movement pantry staple as well. Thanks Hannah!)
Speaking of accessible:
Being able to recognize my needs, to ask for those needs to be met, to admit I don’t know something and ask for help (aka trauma healing) has allowed me to feel hope in what otherwise might feel like a hopeless situation, to add practices and movements and mobility aids into my life right here and now that allow for expansion in small (really the tiniest) but significant steps towards healing, in my mind, body, and soul, and regardless of where my body is now or where it will end up.
I now have a walker. I’m learning to make friends with it.
It’s kind of mortifying to be honest, because it makes my disability visible.
But also kind of cool, partially because I am a nerd and I love gadgets, but mostly because it meets my body where it’s at.
I can sit and rest after an embarrassingly small number of steps, that is actually three times the number of steps I can do without it, so win.
And I have been able to walk out of my driveway under my own steam for the first time since moving to this house four months ago. Liberation titrated.
I have a mini pedal exerciser that sits on the floor to use while sitting.
One of my favorite means of transport before the arthritis and pain prevented it was bicycling.
I currently do not have the range of flexion/extension in my knees to allow a full rotation of bike pedals, nor do I have the balance to stay upright on a bike.
I was horrified to discover that I can’t sit a full-size exercise bike with both feet on the pedals, I just don’t have the flexibility to do that anymore.
But I CAN put both feet in the stirrups of the little floor pedaler and move less than a quarter of the way round, forward and back.
It’s really hard to get my body in position to do that, but I’ve noticed that this less than a quarter round the pedal movement feels GOOD when I’m done, because it’s working the muscles without loading my knees.
The old and rigid ‘ride or die’ thinking is still strong in me, but most of the time I am able to look at this little machine as a friend and it definitely helps to think of the small movements as prehab rather than failure.
Isometrics have also become a staple in my movement pantry.
Strengthening by way of “tension developed without contraction of the muscle.”
Isometrics. It’s a metaphor for life in this body, here and now, just as it is.
It may look like not much is going on from the outside, but there’s a lot of movement happening. In my body, mind, and soul.
Thanks for allowing me to share what’s real and vulnerable and active in my life right now.
I hope that you are able to find ways of moving from a stuck place – whether that’s physical, emotional, or intellectual – to a place of spaciousness, more hope, and more joy in your life, right here and now.
And if there’s anything I can do to assist you with that, hit me up.
* the language of the “default brain” comes to me via the transformative and healing work of Sarah Peyton, neuroscience educator, constellations facilitator, certified Nonviolent Communication trainer and author who invites audiences into a compassionate understanding of the effects of relational trauma on the brain, and teaches about how to use resonance to change and heal.
Hi, I’m Janine, Anti-Capitalist Crone, Post-Trauma Growth Coach & Consensual Copywriter
I believe it’s possible to heal and transform, in our bodies and in our communities, in small, doable, but significant steps.
Interested in working with me?
Check out my offerings here on my website, or send me message
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