Sometimes, I really, really dislike my body. For over five weeks now, I have been in near constant pain and have not been able to walk or do yoga. Something happened to my knee one night. I was standing in the bathroom and as I turned to walk out, my leg kind of collapsed and then proceeded to swell up. I had to drag it behind me like Quasimodo the following day, and ever since then, the bones that meet at my inner knee have been on fire! Teaching yoga really hurts it and that has been hard. I can’t externally rotate my knee without a lot of pain. Even holding it straight in plank really hurts! I have attempted to go to a couple of Monday classes at my yoga studio since my membership is wasting away, but most of the time, I haven’t been able to do much of anything. The Monday before Thanksgiving, one of my teachers told me that I can’t do yoga. Maybe I can swim, she said. Otherwise, I need to rest. She said that she doesn’t want to see me there. That night, I went home and read an article in the New York Times, dealing with some of my favorite topics- the advantages of manual therapy over talk therapy, fascia, and trauma being stuck in the tissues of the body.
I found this article particularly fascinating because the author was experiencing similar pain in her knee, and even more so because the therapist didn’t even touch her knee during the session. Instead, she worked on releasing other parts of her body. I thought back to two and a half years ago when a similar thing had happened to my knee. For weeks, it kept swelling to twice its size and I couldn’t do yoga, which was greatly upsetting to me. (Like now, nothing traumatic had occurred. It just started swelling and hurting). I still wanted to at least be in the room of my normal classes so I could get the benefits of what the teachers were saying. I decided I could just go to classes and lie down with my legs up the wall for the duration. I finally e-mailed one of my teachers about it and he thought that it was torn (which really scared me!) and that I needed to see someone about it immediately. I ended up going to physical therapy, where the woman scraped my knee with a metal tool, bruised it, and then scraped the bruise the next time I was required to go! She found it interesting that my hips didn’t lower at the same time when she had me demonstrate a squat. I told her that was due to my scoliosis and that that needed to be considered with my knee injury. She brushed that concern off and said she didn’t have time for that. I found a chiropractor to work with instead. It was obvious to me then that the area that is injured is not where the problem is originating from.
The Monday night before this Thanksgiving, before I went to sleep, I suddenly felt like I was going to cry for the first time in awhile. The need seem to have passed for a moment, but then subconsciously, tears began to pour out of me. All holidays are tough for me, but Thanksgiving is especially hard because it is the anniversary of my brother’s death. Although I don’t spend time consciously thinking about it, I usually feel sad in November. My body shook as I returned to the moment that I learned of his death. Tears poured out as I felt the same emotions that I experienced that day 14 years ago. Again, I felt angry that he had left me. And then the anger transitioned to sadness that he was no longer here. Grief, emotions, and trauma live in the body. Our cells remember.
The next day, my knee felt a bit better! Something that needed to be released was.
I returned to yoga the following week. “Are you cleared to be here?” my teacher asked, surprised to see me. I told her I think I know what is going on. “My leg bones are crunched together. I need someone to pull my leg and separate my bones!” On the spot, she made up a class that was beneficial to me- focusing on lengthening the muscles of the legs. Afterwards, my knee felt better than it had since the day the injury occurred. However, since then, it has been more and more painful! Sometimes, the pain is excruciating! Today is one of those days. The sun finally made an appearance after at least a week and I tried to go for a short walk. It took only a few minutes for the pain to build and since then, I have not been able to get it to calm down! I have wondered many times during the past few weeks why I get injured so often and am never able to heal from them in this non-hiking life and how I heal so much faster when I hurt myself on the trail! A friend told me that when I am hiking every day, I am constantly tearing down my body and therefore my body is constantly in rebuilding and repairing mode. I think he is right! I know for sure that all of that mobility keeps the lymph and other healing elements circulating through the body. I often think that if I were backpacking, my knee would have healed itself long ago! I really think it is time for me to go on another long walk to heal from this sedentary lifestyle I am living! I know my injuries are all a direct result of the curvatures of my spine. Because the two sides of my body are so different, I shouldn’t be doing the same kind of yoga that a person with a normal spine does. The patterns of imbalance lead to strain that my body can’t tolerate anymore and then I am left completely immobile like I have been for the past 5+ weeks! So, so frustrating!!
I decided that I need to go back to my chiropractor, who I haven’t seen since February of 2013 when my insurance ended! He not only works on my spine, but works on releasing tension in my soft tissues, as well. He can tell what level of emotional stress I am experiencing by placing his hands on my occiput. After the stresses of this past year, I know this tension is extremely high. I can feel the tension, tightness, and stress in almost every part of my body. I don’t cry at my chiropractic sessions, but I laugh a tremendous amount, and I believe that laughter is just as good of a release as crying. I can’t wait until Thursday! Let the laugh-fest begin! And hopefully my knee will begin to open back up and allow me the movement I so deeply desire!