Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Journey into Pain

Well. Let's start in the middle. Why begin at the beginning? Too normal for me. Too usual. Let's begin in the middle. With pain.

I've always had what's known as a 'high pain threshold'. This means that when I was 10, standing at the sink waiting for my Mum to take a sliver out of my finger with a needle, I passed out from the pain before I felt it. This means that as a young dancer I danced on bleeding toes, and thrashed around on stage with wild abandon, despite a fever of 103. I spent the first 30-some years of my life pushing through pain, either ignoring it, or sitting out of dance class because I couldn't trust myself to care for my body. 

Dance for me was about flying, jumping, whirling. In later years it was about weightlessness, about losing track of which way was up. All my life, my body has been strong and capable, flexible and facile. As everyone, I had small limitations, and big insecurities. Still, the photo of me hanging upside down from  rope swing at about age 11? That's how I've lived my life until recently. With a big grin and a 'sure, let's try it!' attitude. 

I'll tell you the longer story later, but my right hip has been funny for years. I tore my right hamstring too many times as an aerobic champion in the early nineties, and sometime 2005-ish it started giving me more trouble, despite my regular yoga practice.

In June of 2011, I was diagnosed with severe arthritis, and told I was a candidate for a hip replacement. Of course I cried. Somehow before that, I thought it was something temporary. I'd tried chiro, physio, osteopathy, yoga, Feldenkrais, massage, Gestalt, Rolfing...I thought I was just short of finding the right thing. I wasn't ready to entertain the idea of an operation and foreign objects replacing my bone. But I had to.

Cut to almost two years later, and the pain is my constant companion. I pop Tylenol Arthritis three at a time, but they don't seem to do much. Once able to sit on the floor with my legs wide and drop my chest to the floor, now my legs separate a scant couple of  feet.

It's tough telling my step-daughter I can't go skiing or mountain biking. Until recently, I did, but the fear of falling is getting too real. The wearing in my hip, along with the pain, make it impossible for me to bend my knees or back much. So getting down to the ground and back up again is already difficult - and pretty impossible on skis. 

I feel like an old woman, and I"m only 50. I practice yoga every day, but I"m not even maintaining. I'm losing flexibility, but doing my best to keep a positive attitude, to accept where I'm at. To live with the challenges life has handed me. It's not easy.

I have a hip replacement booked for October 30th, but I'm hoping to get in before then. Stay tuned...

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