Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Awaken the Spine

"The roots of a tree are pulled deeply down towards the center of the earth while the trunk grows vertically towards the sky, elongating and spreading through the branches into the space around it. The deeper the roots penetrate into the ground, traveling below the surface of the earth, the taller and stronger the tree. The central point of the tree, where it touches the earth's surface, corresponds in our body to the waist at the level of the fifth lumbar vertebra, where the human spine moves in both directions." Vanda Scaravelli

I have always prided myself on my health, self-care, body mechanics and spinal awareness, but sometimes injury is inevitable. I'm not sure if it was one specific event or a series of events, but suddenly I had a debilitating back injury. It interfered with everything in my life. My work and my family suffered along with me. The pain and immobility worsened, soon I had a bulging bruise in my low back that could not be ignored.

Once you have a back injury, it stops you in your tracks. The acute pain must be dealt with first. The immobility next, and the problem solving around how to function manifests itself in a whirlwind of anxiety, fear and doubt. I have responsibility outside of myself that extends too far and too wide, I had to ask for help. Calling out to work, asking my husband to come home early, leaning on childcare to stay longer, leaving dirty dishes, laundry and not making dinner = GUILT. In this situation, my guilt was an imaginary remorse, I refocused and remembered that things could be worse and I have the power to make it better. So, I called in my reinforcements and began to let others in and find help.

I spent the first week making phone calls and a plan. I was unable to stretch, twist or lift heavy objects. The most important thing was to rest with ice and be patient. Which is very hard to do with young children on a good day. The second week I was able to breathe through some light stretching, walk and continue my work and teaching schedule. In retrospect, I would not be writing this post if it weren't for my family and friends. Their love and support is immeasurable and really got me through the third and fourth weeks of injury. When I returned to work, my co-workers expressed concern, asked about my recovery, and shared their own personal stories making me feel more connected to the compassionate community that I am surrounded by.

It has been five weeks now, and things are improved. The injury has changed my yoga practice and my life. Care must be taken in all things physical or the injury returns. I know it is still there lurking behind every twist and turn. I now must be armed with core defense and awareness. I am careful with myself and sensitive to what I am doing in the moment I am doing it. These days, I am grateful for my open-heart and awakened spine.

This post is dedicated to all who assisted me through my healing process, especially my husband and parents. My healing is still ongoing and I need to remain mindful when I am at work, but I must credit two therapists and their flexible efforts in assisting me. Their special talent and skills clearly improved my health and well being.
Thank you.

Dustienne Miller is a women's health physical therapist and yoga teacher whose knowledge and gifted intuition diagnosed, treated and gently reconnected my heart to my lower body.

Jennifer Murphy is a licensed massage therapist at Lilac Massage Therapy, whose healing hands continue to help me keep my acute and chronic back pain under control.

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