Having taken a break from my morning hill runs due to recent extreme weather, I was happy this morning to resume pre-dawn hill walk/run exploration. Not only did I run up various hill grades with ease, but also actually ran on level ground for over 5 blocks!!! This may not sound like much distance to non-injured people, but after nearly two years of recovery, during which I often struggled with merely walking, it was cause for celebration in my book!
My knee feels strange while running, in that the signals are unclear. There is likely some nerve damage due both to the emergency repair surgery and to the hardware removal surgery. I can’t describe the odd sensation as pain; more as of a lack of elastic response. The challenge thus becomes not pulling down with my attention to the weird knee sensations, and instead attending to a wider view of my self and the world beyond my self. If I pull down to the knee, my gait becomes clumsy and heavy. If I expand, instead, to the sights, sounds and potentially springy response of my whole self, my gait becomes more even, lighter, and happiness in running resumes. I don’t intend to ignore pain in any way, but to attend to the entire self and thus to cues for appropriate moderation in activity. The bigger view is more accurate than the specific view.
Now, of course, being the vigor-interested person that I am, I want to sprint! Have I learned patience? NO! Have I learned the consequences of impatience? YES!
I will await the experience of sprinting with a happy curiosity.
It is 21 months today since emergency surgery to repair my fractured patella. What an unexpectedly long, hard road it has been! The journey thus far has required more determination and dedication than I thought was possible for me, skilled expert assistance, and every ounce of Alexander thinking that I could muster. Much has been learned, much loss has been digested. This serious injury changed my life in uncountable ways, and recovery has informed me beyond what I can as yet express.
Due to unseasonably inclement weather conditions, I have temporarily suspended my morning hill runs. There is no point in end-gaining beyond my current condition of self, nor beyond the external conditions over which I have absolutely no control. Despite this hiatus in learning to run again, my stamina, strength and range of movement have improved!
As well as walking with pre-injury speed and ease an average of 6 miles each day, I have also been guided in whole body strengthening by my superb Gyrotonic/Gyrokinesis instructor Lindsey. Her work, as in all Gryotonic/Gyrokinesis work, complements Alexander principles of thinking with the entire self in activity, and takes that thinking into vigorous exploration. Lindsey worked with me previous to injury, and thus knows my habits of response well. (She also takes Alexander lessons with me, and thus we can share a language of instruction.) Lindsey has assisted me not only in recovery from injury (addressing asymmetry in use, need to strengthen atrophied leg, and making the often painful and challenging process fun and interesting), but also helped me resolve patterns of use that were in place previous to injury. She has contributed hugely to my recovery to date, and no doubt will continue to do so in the future.
Currently, I am not only stronger, but experiencing strength from a newly comprehensive balance of use.
Physical therapy continues as I still experience limitations due to injury. Walking down steep hills remains scary and difficult as my knee does not yet have the elastic response to support me with confidence. My back still protests the asymmetry of leg function. And perhaps, most importantly, fear informs me more than I would prefer in some activities.
And yet, I have come an incredibly long way from the severe limitations in movement that I endured earlier in recovery. Pain is no longer a constant presence, more of a cue than a companion.
I am ever grateful for the expert guidance that has made my recovery possible, and for the Alexander principles which underpinned my psychic survival. Allowing time, requesting quiet, having a larger view, and refusing to end gain, as well as thinking with the entire self, are just a few of the skills that have helped me remain somewhat sane in this long and challenging recovery.