Monday, December 3, 2007

The Power of Touch

The brace has been off for a couple of weeks now, and I can see improvement every day. The one place on my back that gives me the most pain, as it has consistently since the accident, is not right in my spine as I would have expected. Instead, it's a few inches to the right, under my shoulder blade. It has been a stubborn and insistent kind of pain, not incapacitating but certainly annoying.

But a miracle worker has entered my life! Mary Lou Stanley, a Vancouver physiotherapist, has magic hands. At my Friday appointment she worked very gently on me, just giving light little pokes and prods to my back - I couldn't call it a massage, exactly. But after about 15 minutes of her touch, plus some breathing exercises, I sat up and could feel my back moving as I breathed. It was like that spot had been stuck all this time and had suddenly been freed!

Mary Lou is very experienced in the Feldenkrais method - a somewhat subtle and mysterious approach to movement. Whatever it is - it works! She also noticed some problems in my gait, and simply redirected me to walk from the hip - which is located more towards the centre of my body than the outside (who knew!!). Such a difference! I felt that I was moving with more fluidity and length, and could feel it right through my toes.

I have also been having cranio sacral treatments with Brenda Pulvermacher. I had experienced cranio a few times before my accident, and knew not to expect a lot of drama. Brenda's work is very subtle but surprisingly effective. Her aim is to help reduce the trauma to the tissues and bones. She has very warm hands, and simply (it seems to me) places them on various parts of my body and holds me for quite a long time. There is some breathing involved here too. What I realized the other day how much my body was responding to simply being held so gently and attentively.

It made me realize how abruptly I had been treated in the hospital. Of course the nurses face lots of pressure to be quick and deal with all their patients in an understaffed environment. But the best description of the way they handled me is efficient, not healing. Before the brace was put on I wasn't allowed to move at all, and required teams of nurses to turn me so I wouldn't get bedsores. It was like some sort of coordinated military manouever. The daily sponge baths felt like they were designed by some sort of efficiency expert - the fewest possible moves in the least amount of time. I remember my Mom held my hand quite a bit, which was very comforting. But comfort doesn't seem to be something the nurses have time to provide.

Aside from getting lots of positive touch, another element of my healing plan is taking Greens Plus. True, the experience of drinking it lives up to a description I heard the other day: "It's like licking the inside of a lawn mower." But it was suggested that I use it to help detoxify my poor liver that has been bombarded with medications of all kinds in the last three months. I was getting unaccountably irritable, just flying off the handle, and apparently that's one of the signs of a stressed liver. Anyways, B vitamins and milk thistle, here I come.

*Update* I've found the only way I can stomach the Greens Plus is in a smoothie with a banana and yogurt. It's just plain disgusting otherwise - cloyingly sweet. If it tasted like parsley I would be fine.