November 14, 2007

Stretching

At the very end of January of this year, I injured my knee. Anyone who was reading my blog at that time probably remembers the injury because I think I mentioned it in every single blog post all winter long. You might recall that it was a snowboarding injury. It was, in fact, quite possibly the most embarrassing sports injury in the history of sports. I got injured getting off the chair lift on the very first run of the season.

Anyhow, the doctor I saw, after my family and friends and a whole posse of bloggers hounded me to seek medical assistance, declared that I had stretched the medial collateral ligament and pinched the cartilage. He said that I might recover fully, but maybe not.

All February, the knee injury kept me awake at night, with the kind of throbbing pain that just encouraged me to lie awake and relive the tapes of all the worst moments of my life. This is not an activity I would recommend to anyone who values their sanity. In the daytime, I couldn't hike or snowshoe or ski or snowboard: I was reduced to walking like a very old person on the paths shoveled through the snowdrifts, hobbling along the icy sidewalks as carefully as I could.

At the beginning of March, I traveled with my injured knee to City in the South Where Pine Straw is Used as Mulch. Despite the limp, I walked one day in the spring sunshine all the way from my hotel to the botanical gardens, a journey that turned out to be much longer than I had expected. As I sat in the sunshine, looking at plants and a water fountain and scenes familiar because I'd seen them on a blog, I could feel the sun warming that stiff leg, healing it.

Later in March, I walked with my husband and daughter through two European Cities, climbing spiral staircases with difficulty and limping down quaint cobblestone streets, slipping past heavy wooden doors into cathedrals to light candles for a friend back in the states who was going through a difficult time. By May, the injury had healed enough for me to shovel dirt, push a wheelbarrow, and take on a landscaping project that included my planting a river birch on my front lawn. By late summer, I had decided that the injury had healed: I was kneeling in canoes, hiking with no difficulty, and walking everywhere I wanted to go. The injury I thought was over, a chapter in my life gone forever.

But in early October, on a weekend in the mountains with my women friends, I entered a labyrinth made of bricks and mulch. The labyrinth is a walking meditation; I was striding through all kinds of emotions, stepping through them, letting them go. When I reached the very middle of the labyrinth, feeling safe and calm and peaceful, I tried to sit down, cross-legged on the mulch. And that motion caused me a terrible jolt of pain. My right leg, the one I thought was completely healed, simply couldn't relax into the position. The muscles were too tight.

The injury had healed but I guess the pain had gotten me into the bad habit of not using my leg, of dragging it about like a phantom limb. The healing, I realized, was not finished. So every morning now, I sit on the floor and put the bottoms of my feet together and start stretching out those leg muscles.

I know it is going to take time. I am still relearning how to use the leg, how to shift the patterns of my life, how to work through the pain, how to stretch myself.

Stretching

23 comments:

kabbage said...

Tellington TTouch and/or Feldenkrais can help bring awareness to your leg. Once your leg is reminded of what it knows, it can change how it reacts to things and choose to relax those muscles again.

I'm a TTouch practitioner, so email me if you want more information.

anonymous blog reader said...

wow.

heidi said...

Beautiful.

zhoen said...

Life leaves it's marks on us.

Tall Girl said...

you do this sitting on a table??

my15minutes said...

I hope you can get that leg stretched back into shape. Your photo's lovely.
Got a question though. Being from the South, I'm wondering what Southern city DOESN'T use pine straw for mulch? :-)

Busymomma66 said...

A new naked photo!

I have found yoga to be helpful in stretching forgotten muscles (of more than one kind). I'm glad your knee is healed.

jo(e) said...

Tall Girl: Yes, of course. I climb onto the kitchen table every morning to stretch.

Oh, okay, not really. I usually sit on the living room floor, amongst the books and papers and musical instruments. I just liked the light on the table this morning, so I climbed up and snapped the photo. I thought the wooden table surface would look like the hardwood floor at the yoga studio, but then I didn't bother to crop the photo so you can tell it's a table ....

my15minutes: What? It's not just Southern City At the Beginning of the Alphabet? They all use pine straw?

julieunplugged said...

Yoga. :) Helps with all that stretching of ligaments. Gorgeous photo... more nudity from Jo(e), you mid-forties hottie.

jo(e) said...

I've learned some yoga at my belly dancing classes because the teacher is a yoga instructor, and Kabbage has just emailed me some other techniques I can used too.

You know it's funny, but I didn't even think about this being a nude shot when I put it up.

Silver Creek Mom said...

Beautiful Shot.
And strtch that puupy I know I should stretch more. I have a bad knee. I was worse will I was PG and then it became that I couldn't lift the leg at all. I had to work Hard on it to get it to move right.

Hugs

Queen of West Procrastination said...

I'm starting to think of these sorts of injuries as souvenirs. Especially since I have a hip injury that I developed while navigating the cobblestone at Pere Lachaise in Paris, four and a half years ago.

And I'm pretty sure that Anastasia will crack up about the city name "City in the South Where Pine Straw is Used as Mulch." She was just ranting about that a few days ago.

jo(e) said...

Queen of West: Hey, the Pere Lachaise in Paris was one of the places I was limping around with my injured knee last March. You don't realize how uneven that cobblestone is until you try to negotiate it with a bad leg ....

Yankee T said...

Great photo. Stretch that baby out. I injured my rotator cuff years ago and still need to stretch it all the time.

liz said...

I love that photo.

Anonymous said...

Well: certainly explains where the cats got the idea from.

Linda said...

I guess even physical healing takes a long time too, huh.

Why can't those middle of the night hours be times when we're reminded of every good thing we've ever done? Why is it always the mistakes we're reminded of? I don't know, maybe the need to stretch the knee can help you remember to celebrate the healing you've experienced this year. Just a thought.

my15minutes said...

Yeah, well I'm visiting that City today, if it's the Same Southern City that Hosted the Olympics. I'm going on a field trip with the art club from school, to the museum (it's only two hours away). I'll have to notice the mulch...

Sue said...

Love this photo.

purpleteardropsofhappilymarriedness said...

Beautiful photo joe, how safe is it to let you know it took my breath away? Keep stretching it, its what helps my back sometimes

Abby said...

I know I'm adding my two-cents here a little late, but I wanted to let you know that I understand. I hear you. I am recovering from back surgery to correct a severely ruptured disc. A year of shocking pain at night, aching pain all day and every non-surgical attempts to heal myself. But they didn't work. So I had surgery about a month ago. And while my back is healing pretty well, I recognize now the weakness in that right leg, weakness from a year's lack of use that I didn't even notice.

So we are stretching women, women stretching, we two.

Rana said...

That is a wonderful picture.

Others have mentioned the yoga - which is also good for giving you the body sense to help avoid hurting it in the future.

Our bodies are good at keeping us humble, aren't they?

Ampersand said...

With a summer of physical therapy behind me, for two bad shoulders, I know how important it is for me to continu to stretch and exercise them...they really want to avoid pain and will adapt accordingly.

But I did not come here to say all that. I came here to say how lovely you are in this photo.
It speaks to me about self-love somehow.