One Year Later

Posted by Jeanne Barrett on February 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

A year ago today, I was recovering from surgery to repair  my fractured left patella, injured in a sidewalk fall.  Two metal pins and a figure 8 wire were installed on my broken patella.  I was sent home the same day with a full length splint, crutches, and heavy-duty pain medication.  My surgeon told me that it would be “at least a year” before my knee wasn’t a constant problem, and that I shouldn’t expect to walk without a limp, let alone run, ever again.

I have come a very long way in a year, through much travail, dismay and difficulty.  I can walk without a limp on a good day, and I fully intend to be able to run sometime in the future.  I learned to live life with, initially, a fully extended leg, then with incremental increases in knee flexion.  I managed to teach private lessons and to run a teacher training course with a full leg brace for 12 very long weeks just two weeks after surgery.  Daily life was challenging in ways that were previously unimaginable.  The experience of serious injury changes entire perspective about possibilities.

The lessons of injury have been life-changing, terrifying, informative and deep.  My very definition of self, and of my self in the world, have been shaken, questioned and renewed into a form that is still unrecognizable to me.  But I survived, which at some points was questionable this past year.

My stubborn determination was not sufficient for recovery, however, nor was my impatience helpful.  Assistance was required.  The Alexander Technique gave me a means for framing my recovery with dynamic non-interference, direction and inhibition, and the skills of allowing a bigger picture than the distressing sensations of huge pain and limited mobility.  The skills of other professionals were essential to proceed toward full recovery.

What has helped me most, thus far in the journey, in renewing mobility independence are the following, all equal in importance:  Alexander lessons with John Nicholls for an overall reorganization of self with respiratory support as a key note; Osteopathy to nudge me gently toward a structural balance; Physical Therapy with very attuned and big-picture PT’s, Heidi and Janette to provide intelligently active means of recovery;  Gyrotonic exercise guidance with Lindsey for strength in a deep sense;  acupuncture to reduce inflammation from Yoshiro; and just teaching Alexander lessons daily, which required me to use myself well, despite physical limitations.

Friends and family have been patient and kind, as well as tolerant of my occasional meltdowns. My cat Carmella, dog friends Ella, Georgie,  Oliver, Ruffles have all insisted that I am fine however I am, and can we play now?  These critters have also conveyed affection and acceptance that was vital on days when I was deeply discouraged.  Paddy the horse and equestrian teacher Eileen gave me hope for intention in recovery.  And my dear, dedicated, patient students, who have had the confidence in me to continue learning in tandem with my recovery, have made many levels of recovery possible.

There are many gratitudes implied in the lists above.  My recovery to this point is due in huge part to the skills, guidance, kindness, patience, acceptance and confidence of many people and animals.

There is still a long road ahead.  Although pain is not such a constant presence, it is still a daily possibility.  My mobility is not anywhere near where I hope it will be.  The many athletic pursuits that I enjoyed previous to injury, the ease of daily life activities, are currently either impossible or  only partially available to me.  I still struggle with accepting limitations in movement, still mourn what I can’t do with ease or at all.  But, a year has brought progress, much learning and the news of more to also not know.

Thank you to all who have so generously contributed to my recovery this year!!   The story continues…