‘Did You Ever Wonder Why No One Ever Tries Softer?’ ~ Lily Tomlin

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Colin Firth/Geoffrey Rush- photo by Weinstein Company

 

I’m always behind the curve when it comes to seeing the latest movie, so yes I did miss The King’s Speech while it was in the theater. Due to the wonderful buzz among everyone I know who saw it, I was quick to watch it on DVD. And it did not disappoint. You may be wondering why this is relevant to my bodywork practice, or then again you may be right there with me. The story line ran such a strong parallel with my own belief system that besides being glued to the amazing cinematography, I felt like I was watching my own professional story unfold.

In case you haven’t seen the film yet, here is a quick glance without giving all the good parts away. This British historical drama is about the Duke of York soon to be King George the VI. To help the Duke overcome his stammer his wife seeks out Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist, known for his unique yet effective methodology. Logue believes there are emotional triggers that underlie the onset of most speech impediments. Initially the Duke will not discuss personal matters and only wants to work on the mechanical problem at hand. Logue agrees, and they work together on muscle relaxation and breathe control, but Logue continues to probe into the psychological roots of his stammer. The King eventually tells about the difficulties of his childhood at the time his stammer appeared: his strict father; repression of his left-handedness; painful knee splints; a nanny who mistreated him and “It took my parents three years to notice.”

I absolutely love the structural part of the human body and continue to find relevance in the study of anatomy, and other coursework to help me make sense of this amazing system. But I know that behind every pain and injury there is an emotional story as well. So when clients’ report pain or numbness somewhere, and they can remember the exact moment it came on, I find myself drawn as much to what was happening in their life that day, as the idea that the pain resulted from ‘I was just putting on my shoes.’ Besides the actual mechanical pain process, I like to look at what they may be holding on to….An inability to forgive someone, bitterness about how the pain has changed their life, anger about something someone said or did. The list can go on but I, like Logue, have come to believe that wellness comes from healing both the mechanical and the emotional. We may find that on some days trying softer may get us further ahead than trying harder.

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A Double-Edged Sword

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Double Edged Sword by musogato

 

One of the more delicate parts of my job is discussing radiological findings with my clients. These tests have become the gold standard to rule out serious medical conditions. They are also used to figure out why someone has pain. This can bring great comfort to people as they now have a clear cause, and yet great distress to others because their tests are normal and they still hurt.

So in truth, how much weight should a scan hold in the overall picture of your pain? Here is the case that really challenged my own outlook. On his first visit, this client came into my office with his written MRI report in hand. Luckily the medical terminology wasn’t written in layman’s terms, so he wasn’t able to judge the severity. He was comfortable with his doctors’ assurance that it was arthritis, and at 60 years of age he personally felt like that was to be expected. At that time, I had fifteen years experience under my belt and was pretty sure I had never read a scan so daunting. It could have taken the prize for ‘the worst stiff neck imaginable’, if awards for this were actually given out. I remember thinking can a neck like this ever move normally again.

What began with so many doubts, turned into an incredible journey. It broke down barriers in my belief system that needed to be challenged. I had a big aha moment when I came to realize that an image is one thing and the body’s own ability to heal is quite another. Had I relied solely on what the scan said, with major arthritic changes at each and every level of his neck, I would have feared moving forward. The beauty was that his body was ready for relief from a year of headaches and an inability to look over either shoulder. It became clear very quickly, that his neck just needed a little guidance.

If I was a betting woman, I would have lost, as I didn’t hold faith in his full recovery. Thankfully he proved me wrong and this one man’s success has completely changed my outlook. I no longer judge a client by their imaging; instead it is just one small piece of the amazing puzzle called the human body. With this said, I recommend that you don’t judge yourself by your scans, and see if a brighter outlook doesn’t appear.

Is Your Story Keeping you from Your Best Health?

purple_flowers-150x150Is your ‘story’ keeping you from your best health?

Recently I received a call from a potential client who didn’t even offer me his name. He opened the conversation with who had referred him to me, and that he preferred to get in ASAP because of his pain. Since it seemed very important to him, I proceeded by inquiring about the nature of his pain. His response was that he has persistent pain in his shoulders, which he feels comes from a guarding pattern he can’t seem to change following a cervical spine fusion surgery.

Since his issue seemed really straight forward and I didn’t have space to fit him in that day, I recommended some other bodywork practices that may have immediate availability. But now the real story came out. “Would they know what to do with a fusion?” he asked. I find I am taken a little aback, as rarely do I get a referral for someone still on restrictions without getting a phone call from their practitioner or doctor. To clarify my questions, he stated that his surgery was over a year ago and he has been given the all clear by his surgeon to resume all his normal activities.

Here is the catch, and ultimately what may be creating an underlying holding pattern in the muscles of his shoulders. On his last visit, the doctor explained that on one view of his x-rays the bone looked as if it hadn’t completely filled in, but even with this information he was released from all his previous restrictions. So despite the wonderful hall pass he received, he leaves the doctors office in conflict. As he has heard that he is not whole, in fact still quite broken and fragile, with the fusion not being completely perfect. He also heard the words he is free to get back to his life as before. But now, he just may write his story that he is getting back to his life, but despite giving a year of his life to surgery, rehab and recovery, he still isn’t well.

He needs to believe that it is okay to not have a perfect x-ray at the one-year mark, and that the doctor feels very good with the outcome of his surgery even with these findings. And most importantly, it is okay to move on with your healing by editing this part of your story to mean that imperfect doesn’t mean broken. I hope he realizes this sooner rather than later, and gets back to being himself, and not his injury. I will know this is true if he calls again, and begins by giving me his name.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, And not everything that counts can be counted.” ~ Einstein

Turning Points

road-to-success11-150x150As a bodyworker, I come into people’s lives when something is amiss in their body. Over the years, I have been blessed with assisting a lot of incredible people on their path toward wellness.

Recently, I was reminded how important this can be when I received an enormous hug and the gracious words, “You were my turning point. After our session, I knew I had the tools to get well.” These rewarding moments are why I am so committed and passionate about my work.

But it also stirred up even more questions for me. How many people recognize when they are at a turning point? How many people stop there and are fooled into believing this is the end point, and ultimately get re-injured? How many people never find their turning point, and continue to stay in a vicious cycle that ultimately doesn’t bring wellness.

Ah, always more too ponder! It’s a great reminder to pay closer attention to your body, so that you can feel this change. I sure appreciate my clients’ for the lessons they share with me every day.