Falling Into Healing
On Christmas eve I fell in my kitchen. My slipper sock got caught on the short head of a small nail sticking out of the wood border around the slate in the entry way in my apartment. I became reactively hysterical in that way one does in these situations—making sobbing, whaling fear sounds without actually crying tears. I had fallen on my knees, hurting my left knee badly, the right knee also taking a bang. Somehow, part of me managed to test the situational atmosphere and was pretty sure nothing was broken or fractured, yet I was afraid to try to get up. Literally dragging myself with my arms to the couch, I pulled myself on to it. Slowly I assessed the injury, using a small table for support, I tested one leg then the other and found I couldn’t stand at all on the left leg, and only with great caution on the right. Both knees hurt.
The phone was next to the couch. I reached for it and called my dear friend Margo, who only lived a mile away. While waiting for Margo, I contemplated whether or not I needed to take any immediate action. I’d had knee injuries before, although not as scary or intense, but felt I could wait until after Christmas—Wednesday—and see how things were going.
Margo was the best kind of friend in a situation like this. She came over with ice packs, and later, a walker, borrowed from her husband, who had had several surgeries. She sat next to me, witnessing the eruption of sobs and emotions that spewed forth uncensored from beneath my fear. She neither judged nor tried to “fix” anything—an agreement in our friendship.
I’m alone. I have no one? I don’t have any family, any children, no one I can ask for help, except you. But I hate asking for help. I’m not good at asking for help with things like this. I don’t like being a burden to anyone. How am I going to manage alone?
In addition to developing and managing websites, occasionally designing and formatting books, and making jewelry, I still worked two days a week as a hair stylist in a salon in a 128-year-old gatehouse that had old steep steps up to the front door, difficult to navigate even with good knees. My sobs and words continued.
And my work at the salon, how am I even going to get up the steps? How am I going to stand for hours, and move around the chair? Will I ever be able to get back to work? What if I lose all my clients?
My pile of soggy tissues grew. The truth was, I’d lately thought often about how much longer I wanted to do that work. Yet I was nowhere near making enough money with my other part time ventures to allow me to quit. I didn’t actually become a hair stylist until I was forty-seven. (What an English Lit major was doing in Beauty School is a complicated story.) Now, seventy-two, I couldn’t have imagined I’d still be behind the chair.
And I also had to admit that my knees hadn’t felt their best the last few years, and I’d focused more concerned energy toward them than was helpful or healthful. So, understanding that where the mind goes, energy flows [see Quantum Physics and the Political Arena], I had to take a look/feel at that as well.
All this said, I’m not one for mentally analyzing why something has happened, or staying too long in reactive mode. I am one, however, that let’s her emotions flow freely, feeling all the feelings, without, as much as possible, judgment. I’ve been a practitioner of Wisdom Healing Qigong for over two-and-a-half years [see Challenge, Choice, and Chi], and have learned to go deeply into my body, allowing and accepting all the feelings, even pain, to be there without story or label or even diagnosis. Through various practices of movement, sound, visualization, intention, breathing, and meditation, I am learning to go not only into the physical body, but deeper into the emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies, expanding out into the chi field of quantum unified energy always available for healing and creating.
I had had plans to be with friends for a Christmas dinner, which now I couldn’t attend. Margo was one of those friends. I gave her the gifts and food contribution to take over to Tom and Joseph’s house. I’m not a big holiday person, so, except for the comradery, missing Christmas wasn’t a big concern. What was a big concern, however, was how I was going to navigate from the couch to the bathroom.
I had to keep my injured, painful knee and left foot completely off the floor, pushing down on the walker to allow me to move my right foot, whose knee had also been weakened, forward. Hobbling to the bathroom seemed to take a millennium. Getting down onto my low commode was a challenge in grace and safety—putting all my weight on my right leg, bending my slightly injured right knee, using my hands on the toilet seat to support and lower myself.
But that was nothing compared to the treachery of getting up. Even pushing on the toilet seat, my right knee had to absorb most of the weight of lifting myself until I could grab the rails of the walker, which slide slightly on the tile floor.
Since Margo had prepared my food on Christmas, I didn’t have to face the next hurdle until Wednesday morning breakfast, the usual blueberries and full fat, organic if possible, plain yogurt. I hobbled to the kitchen, managed to remove frozen blueberries from the freezer and pour them into a cereal bowl I was able to reach, then return the frozen fruit to the freezer. My normal routine was to put the berries in a bowl, do qigong practice, come back in about forty-five minutes and add my yogurt to the then defrosted fruit. Only on occasion did I use the microwave. Wednesday was such an occasion.
My microwave is about seven feet across the kitchen from the countertop. Not thinking, I reached for the bowl of blueberries, then froze. I realized I couldn’t lift them or carry them to the microwave and use the walker at the same time. And it would also be the same dilemma getting anything I might be able to prepare from the kitchen to my new residence on the couch. After more than a little frustration, and several rounds of merde, this is what I came up with:
- Hang a plastic Ingles bag from one of the small knobs that collapse the walker (there was no other place…merde again)
- Get reachable cereal bowl out and put on counter
- Take frozen blueberries out of freezer, pour into bowl, return berries to freezer
- Put bowl with berries in the bottom center of the Ingles bag and hang it from one of the knobs on the walker
- Carefully walk to the microwave
- Standing on the right foot, remove bowl with berries and place in microwave
- Be okay with the fact that you can’t walk the safer two feet away
- When done, take bowl out of microwave, place evenly balanced bowl into the bag so it doesn’t tip to one side or the other and return to counter
- Add yogurt from fridge and return yogurt to fridge
- Add spoon and mix
- Place cereal bowl with berries and yogurt and spoon evenly in the bag
- Hook bag on walker and head for the couch
- To bring empty bowl back to kitchen, reverse relevant steps
Oh happy days!!
My sister, who knows from experience about knee injuries, called on Christmas day and gave me my immediate agenda—Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.
A NOTE ABOUT USING A WALKER
When you first start using a walker to take the weight completely off one leg and partially off the other, after a short while you develop severe stiffness and pain in front of and a little under your shoulders that feels like the remnants of having been forced to do a hundred pushups. And this gets much worse before it even begins to get better, making using the walker a simple torture.
I’ve been living and sleeping on the lounge end of my couch since the mishap. It’s comfortable. It’s close to the kitchen and the front door. There’s a TV in front of me, a table and lamp to the left with tissues, coasters, and my land line portable phone. Also on the table is my appointment book, iPhone and iPad attached to chargers plugged into the nearby wall, and my debit card for Margo to use at the store. Next to me on the couch is my MacBook Pro, cushions and throw blankets for comfort and warmth, and a convenient space for the walker.
Since I moved into…or maybe onto…the couch, I’ve been slowly adding to the furnishings. I now have an oval basket on the lamp table with current necessities—Ibuprofen, TheraTears eyedrops, Naked Organic lip balm, Arnica gel, a flash drive, generic Post It notepad, my favorite Papermate lead pencil with soft #2B lead, and a vile with a few halves of .025 mg Xanax in case I can’t sleep. Yes, that’s correct, when needed, I only take half of a quarter mg of Xanax.
There’s also a goody bag which today (Friday) holds a few paper towels, two paper plates, half a bag of Stacey’s parmesan, garlic, and herbs pita chips, half a bar of Trader Joe’s dark truffle chocolate, and three Nugo Slim protein bars—Raspberry Truffle, Brownie Crunch, and Crunchy Peanut Butter. In previous days, there was Theo’s organic dark chocolate with ginger and a Trader Joe’s dark chocolate almond bar. Also a banana, three Mandarin tangerines, and four homemade Italian sesame cookies.
The Side Table
The Goody Bag
I can’t tell you how often I’d expressed the desire to get a new blog post written. You’ll notice that my last one was right after the election in 2016! So I suppose I could look at one of the upsides of this adventure as actually, mostly out of sheer boredom and also the need to distract, writing this post. Although it is not the more eloquent fare with gorgeous images that I had intended.
Another upside is that since yesterday, I feel I have turned the corner in several ways. The swelling and pain seem slowly but securely on the downside. I feel hopeful that I will continue to heal and be able to go back to work at the salon. I appreciate all the parts of my body that are working perfectly. And I was inspired to get back to my qigong sound healing practice, the only practice I might be able to do for a while.
As we say in Wisdom Healing Qigong: HAOLA! (how-la) All is well…getting better.