Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Right and The Left of Me: A Tale of Two Bodies

" I could cut your body in half, and it would be like two different people, the two halves are so different"

Throughout much of my life I have experimented with various ways of treating the soreness, stiffness and pain that has to greater and lesser degrees helped define my waking hours. Years ago, the pain and discomfort were extreme and forms of self-medication were as common, sometimes more common, as visiting a specialist in managing or ameliorating pain. And when not self-medicating or meditating I often tried a personal version of stoicism, believing that ignoring the pain might make it magically vanish. Needless to say, none of these were the most effective or soundest of choices.

In the past couple of years, since my last surgery, I am much more attentive to finding the best, the optimum treatment of whatever pain and discomfort I am feeling. Let's just say I have matured. I pay serious attention to all the various alternatives and try and choose the ones that seem most likely to be the healthiest, the most practical.

On Thursday, just five days before the launch of my book I went for a massage, a 'deep tissue' massage, sometimes called a sports massage, similar to a Shiatsu massage. My right shoulder hurts, my right upper thigh muscles throb, my daily exercise routine is at times debilitating and I knew that I needed some way to lower the physical anxiety if for no other reason than so that I could better cope with the emotional anxiety I was experiencing on the eve of the book hitting the shelves.   

It was by no means the first time I had had this type of massage but it was the first time in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the first time with Breanne Schultz who has very conveniently set up her practice right around the corner from me. In many ways it was my classic first encounter with a medical person. Quick recap of a complicated history and a fast summary of what concerns me at the moment. Her reaction, 'well quite a project then' and a question about deep tissue and how much pain I might be used to.

The hour goes by fast and the pain of the massage and the pressure is both extreme and welcome. I can feel the impact and appreciate the partial temporary release and accept the knowledge that this is going to be a longer term thing than I might have thought. At one point while massaging my upper thigh her hands feel like a knife cutting the muscle. At another point she is massaging my upper back and she asks if I feel that hardness like bone, I say yes and she says yeah but it is muscle; it should not be hard like bone. At the end she gives me a sense of what we are dealing with.

She tells me she could cut my body in half and it would be like two different people. My right side is tight, tense and hard bound in ways that are difficult to describe, the left no where near as much. It makes perfect sense to me, the right side has always taken the brunt of keeping me moving, keeping me going and that hasn't diminished since the surgery, since the straightening of my body since the lengthening of my leg. One of the tricks, one of the things I struggle with daily is reminding myself to shift weight so it is evenly balanced. You tilt to the right for 60 years and it takes a bit of reminding, rewiring, to stand even and spread the weight and the burden.

We discuss treatment options. I choose the more frequent visits, I choose confronting this head on. One thing I keep learning is that attending to these things is almost the equivalent of a full time job, but it is the work I have taken on.

Now if I could find a deep tissue treatment equivalent for the emotional tension I am feeling.

1 comment:

  1. It is good that you are bent on eliminating all those pains you feel, Peter. And trying out different non-invasive treatments might be just what you need. Self-medication is fine, though traditional medical check-ups can also reveal pain sources or at least decisively identify which part of your body is most damaged or injured. Do continue this journey, as this is self-improvement as well.

    Jacqueline Hodges @ Dr. Koziol