The quietly dynamic non-interference that is required for long term recovery from injury includes layers of frustration, encouraging evidence, and shifting modes of intention and attention. The work of the Alexander Technique is indirect and deceptively simple, but it is not easy. Being awake for every activity and welcoming means as opposed to results requires both seriousness and humor. Living with pain and limitation challenges all preconceived notions of who we are in the world. Time takes on a different quality once the unpredictable sequence of recovery is accepted and embraced.
An opportunity is presented in long term recovery, which is not in any way fun or easy. Old habits of response can be examined and addressed as one learns anew basic movements such as walking and descending stairs. Pain becomes a new and relentless cue to misuse. And the habit of checking for pain becomes another opportunity for quieting sensation as any sort of reliable inquiry. Progress in recovery involves attention that includes pain as a clue, but is also wider, bigger and attentive to the whole.
I can walk today with ease and speed, but I may hobble and limp tomorrow. Predictable outcomes are not the deal anymore, at least for now. My knee will never be the same as it was previous to fracture. I can ask for more mobility with less interference, more ease with less contraction, more interior volume with less noticeable effort. I can allow the breath to do itself as a reflection of my entire coordination. so that there is less of me doing, more of not-me doing itself. This is not easy, but it is all I can do: asking for more and doing less. Laughing at myself while I ask for both more and less!
I have this notion, based on no information other than my own experience, that recovery sequences sometimes require a seeming setback for reorganizational purposes. As use, function, and even structure shift to more fully operational levels, the tissues, nerves, brain and emotional signals all need a pause on further forward movement, so that new information can be conjugated and digested without any further push.
After several days of dramatic setback, I am now functioning better than previous to the setback. Pain and immobility necessitated rest and ease in activity as priorities, and new choices in use. The tissues, nerves, emotional self and perceptions were allowed time to know a new response.
After 11 months of recovery, I no longer dive into dismay and depression when a setback occurs, as I know now that change is constant and unpredictable. Often, there are no answers, only the continuing question of how to use myself best with the conditions of Self that are current. The choice of continuing with good use, of quieting and refusing to narrow or shorten, even with mounting pain and frustration, has thus far served me well. Directing and inhibiting has saved me from the self-pity trap.
This morning, my canine friend, Oliver, ran to greet me with his big tail wildly wagging. He thinks I am fine, even on days when I limp and lurch. I will take a cue from Oliver, and join him in the idea that I am fine as I am now, with hopes of spiraling improvement included.
Recovery from injury is rarely linear in progress, as evidenced by my experience, and frequently noted in this blog. Recovery spirals and oscillates and quivers on the edge of personal use, activity levels, environmental shifts such as barometric pressure, genetic pre-disposition, and many factors often beyond comprehension. In the triangle of structure/function/use, the most effect we can have is upon use, which improves function and can potentially even affect structure.
I have been coming along pretty well in the past weeks. Reduced pain and improved function have cheered me. With the solid experience of nearly a year since injury, I have increased daily activity with incremental steps and with respectful attention. Nothing sudden or accelerated has been attempted. Yet, for no reason I can fathom, pain and reduction in injured knee mobility have returned with lazarine vigor. Add to this the fact that my non-injured knee is now loudly complaining after 11 months of asymmetrical weight-bearing.
How to use myself well with two acutely (but differently) painful knees is a challenge I will need to address. Living, thinking, even sleeping with good use becomes hugely important with these conditions of Self.
Given that change is constant, and that recovery goes along in unpredictable shifts, I will trust that attending to good use will result in a surprisingly new ease once again, and a pain free mobility after this weird interim of difficulty and challenged mobility. I intend to respond to the current conditions of Self with the best means I know: a dynamic non-interference that may reveal new solutions in overall coordination. As yet unknown lessons will be learned!